Mammen and a stout defense get party started for Tigers
URBANA — The plan was for the Urbana players to save their celebration after Friday's 33-14 win against rival Champaign Central for the locker room.
In the closing minutes, Urbana's public address announcer instructed the students to stay off the field at the game's conclusion.
For a program that hasn't had much to celebrate in recent years, rules be damned.
As the clock ran out, Tigers players and their students rushed to the west end zone, where the Wright Street trophy awaited them. The senior football players hoisted the hardware, and a wild celebration followed that ended with the players taking a victory lap around the track, shaking hands and greeting fans on their way to the locker room.
"It feels amazing, the best feeling of my entire football career," senior quarterback Cameron Mammen said. "I've been waiting all four years, and we finally got it."
Mammen completed 6 of 12 passes for 117 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown pass to Dustin Lard on the game's first possession. Mammen also rushed for 80 yards and scored on runs of 19 and 2 yards.
Mammen broke the Twin City record for passing yards in the win. He now has 3,116 yards, breaking former Central QB Doug Kyrouac's mark (3,106).
It was the first win for the Tigers (1-1) against their rivals since 2004, a fact that wasn't lost on the players.
"It feels great; I've never felt anything like this in my life," two-way lineman Mustafa Odeh said. "It's a new beginning for Urbana football, a new legacy."
The Tigers started that new legacy with tough running from Anterio Jones (nine carries, 148 yards, two TDs) and a suffocating defensive performance, limiting the Maroons (0-2) to 32 yards of offense in the first half. Central, which got a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Nick Glenn (12 of 22, 115 yards) and a 13-yard score by Tion Posey, was outgained 390-143.
Urbana's coaches, players and fans are hoping Friday's celebration is the first of many for a program that's hoping to end a long playoff drought.
"I feel like this is just the beginning for us," coach Nathan Watson said.