Mammen, Urbana on right side of blowout
URBANA — In the last decade, Urbana has been part of plenty of games played with a running clock in the second half. The Tigers were always on the wrong end of the scoreboard, though.
Expectations have been raised under fourth-year coach Nathan Watson, and the program appears to be headed toward brighter days. Friday, it was the Urbana studs — like Cameron Mammen — who stood on the sideline with helmets off while their team put the finishing touches on a 74-26 win against Springfield Lanphier at McKinley Field.
"When Coach tells you at halftime to take off your helmet and that you're not going to play anymore, that's a great feeling. You can relax and know you did your part and just chill on the sideline," Mammen said.
Mammen did more than his part for the Tigers on Friday. The senior quarterback accounted for all eight of the Tigers' first-half touchdowns en route to a 59-19 advantage. Mammen ran for 175 yards on six carries and completed 9 of 12 passes for 258 yards before sitting in the second half. He scored on touchdown runs of 11, 33, 7 and 1 yards.
The three-year starter hit Devon Williams with touchdown passes of 41 and 25 yards and also hooked up with Dustin Lard from 11 yards and Cedrick Fry from 21 yards.
"I love him. He's a great kid on and off the field, and I'm happy for him. He's going to continue to get better and we are as a team," Watson said of Mammen. "He's always been athletic, but this year he's making much more advanced reads than he has in the past. He's taken that to the next level."
The 6-foot senior is taking his leadership to the next level, too.
"We had some issues this week in practice, and he addressed them like you would expect a leader to do," Watson said. "He's a quiet kid, but this week he got more vocal, and that's good. We need that from him."
The win was the third straight for the Tigers after losing their season opener at Normal Community. It's the first time since 2002 that the Tigers have started a season 3-1. That team started 5-1.
"This is just a great feeling. We're making history this year, and you can't ask for much more than that," Mammen said.
The goal now is to keep winning and get to the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
"We want to be the best team in school history," Watson said. "We know the Big 12 is out there. We need to get the first playoff win in school history. Once you're in the dance, you might as well keep dancing."