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Bears put the squeeze on Pitman
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Pitman junior fullback Mario Lewis takes off for a big gain down the middle against the Merced High defense.

The Pitman High football team knew the Merced Bears were going to be a tough team to beat but the Pride didn’t expect the mauling they received at home on Friday. The Bears (2-1 CCC) covered 459 yards through the air and on the ground on their way to a 44-13 rout over the Pride; it was Pitman’s worst loss to date.

“I’m disappointed in myself,” Pitman’s head coach Brandon Harris said. “We didn’t have the guys ready to play tonight.”

At halftime the game was still within Pitman’s reach. The Pride (1-2 CCC) temporarily led Merced in the first half thanks to a Brent Nelle 18 yard touchdown, but with 1:46 left in the second quarter Merced’s Bradley Adamson reeled in a 31 yard pass from Eli Gutierrez in the end zone to put his team up 10-7. Still, Pitman’s coaches and players felt confident in their chances.

The Pride’s defense began the third quarter with intensity and did what it was unable to do in the first half, stop Gutierrez. Drew Lewis intercepted a potential touchdown pass on Merced’s first possession, sending a gust of hope down Pitman’s sideline. The offense was unable to capitalize, however, and was forced to punt, giving Merced the ball back at its 25 yard line. The Bears didn’t flinch; instead they drove the ball 75 yards in seven plays to score their second touchdown via a 37 yard strike to Travante Richard.

Despite the swing in momentum Pitman was still in the game with the score 16-7 but Bear Errol Dennis made it a point to change that on the Pride’s ensuing possession. Dennis took a break from pounding the rock on offense to make a key interception on a tipped ball from Wyatt Clapper, setting up a dazzling fourth quarter effort that sealed Merced’s second league win.

The Bears scored on all four of their fourth quarter possessions, taking advantage of holes in Pitman’s defense for huge plays. Sam Scheidt found pay dirt from one yard out with 11:03 to go, Gutierrez ran in a 43 yard touchdown with 10:24 to go, Dennis scored from 29 yards out with 7:36 to go, and an unnamed Bear crossed the goal line with 2:53 to go.

“We got our butts kicked in every phase of the game tonight,” Harris said. “Merced is a good team and they were just better than us tonight. We’re going to go back to the drawing board and figure everything out.”

Pitman’s last breath of hope came in the fourth quarter when Nelle took a 70 yard pass to the house for his second touchdown, but the offense stalled shortly after. Pitman must now regroup and get ready for a road trip to Golden Valley High next Friday.

“The sun’s still going to come out tomorrow and we’re going to be working hard,” Harris said. “We’re not going to quit, that’s for sure.”