Tigers lay it all on the (defensive) line, which is up to the challenge
URBANA — Centennial had nowhere to run on the 100-yard field.
Urbana's Cedrick Fry, Mikshadd Townsend and Chris Lenear took care of that Friday night. The Tigers' defensive linemen plugged up the holes, repeatedly broke through the Chargers' offensive line and continually kept pressure on sophomore quarterback Jimmy Fitzgerald.
"The defensive line," Urbana coach Nathan Watson said, "was the highlight for me. They played hard. They were getting to him."
The highlight for the homecoming fans who braved a rainy night at McKinley Field was the Tigers' 39-12 triumph, a win that secured the school's first outright Twin City championship in eight years in football.
"We needed this to make a difference," said junior running back Kenny Patton, who scored a touchdown and rushed for 132 yards on 19 carries. "We're trying to turn the program around. There's more to accomplish. We want to be great."
Watson said his team, which broke a 0-0 tie less than four minutes before halftime, was far from great Friday.
"I don't feel we played well," Watson said. "We're a lot better than that. This was a hard week to stay focused with homecoming and the Twin City. We gritted it out.
"Honestly, I think this game was won in the summer."
Patton is one of four Tigers who've had 100-yard rushing games this season.
"Kenny is a really physical player, and I'm proud of the way he played," Watson said.
Urbana senior quarterback Cameron Mammen was again the offensive architect. He had a hand in four of the five Urbana TDs, including two in 75 seconds of the first half, which ended with Urbana holding a 15-0 lead.
Mammen scored on a 27-yard run at the 3:20 mark and again on the first play after a Fletcher Evans punt, on a 59-yard scamper that started with an excellent fake to Patton.
Mammen rushed for a game-high 168 yards. He passed for 107, including a 28-yard scoring strike to Tanner Russell with 4:02 remaining.
Fitzgerald scored a TD for the Chargers and passed 40 yards to Dustin Walls for a score. He finished 14 of 28 with 203 passing yards
On the ground, Centennial managed 11 net yards for 30 attempts as the Tigers' line finished with 13 tackles for loss as well as an interception by Fry.
"That kid (Fitzgerald) is scary," Watson said. "He is going to be a good quarterback in this conference."
Fitzgerald had a 53-yard second-quarter TD pass to Walls nullified by an offensive pass-interference call. Walls hauled in four passes for 97 yards. Chargers teammate Steve Lee caught six passes for 81 yards.
Urbana averaged more than 8.2 yards per carry, an output Patton has come to expect.
"Our line always protects me and Mammen and gives us good holes," Patton said. "I love our line."