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Pitman improves to 2-1 after team effort over Modesto
Pitman football
Jesse Luna scores a touchdown for the Pride Thursday evening against Modesto. The Pride won 26-13 (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

The Pitman High varsity football team earned their second straight win on Thursday night, defeating Modesto High 26-13 in what proved to be a strong effort from the Pride on both sides of the ball. 

Pitman head coach Lance Weckerle commended his team, which has rebounded nicely following a Week 1 loss to Enochs High. Since then, the Pride has outscored opponents 74-33 thanks to a strong defensive front and lethal running game. 

“This is a great team,” Weckerle said. “They’re really resilient and they persevere. They started that last year and have built upon that to continue into this season.”

It was receiver Landyn Magina who scored first for Pitman by way of a five-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jared Moren during the Pride’s second possession of the game. Moren has plenty of weapons to choose from on offense, which was apparent during the victory.

“I think we have four or five guys who are dangerous with the ball in their hands,” Weckerle said. “We just want to get the ball into the playmakers' hands. It’s simple, but it’s what we do.”

The Pride’s top two running backs Jesse Luna and Sergio Romo led the way offensively for their team on Thursday, complemented by Moren who completed five of seven passes and threw for 51 yards with one touchdown. Romo finished the night with 81 rushing yards on 13 carries, while Luna ran through the Panthers with 170 rushing yards on 16 carries — one of which was a 57-yard touchdown in the second quarter. 

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Sergio Romo finds an opening to gain yards during Pitman's Thursday night game against Modesto. The Pride won 26-13 (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

Luna also put the Pride on the one-yard line in the third quarter thanks to a 27-yard dash down the gridiron, which set up an easy touchdown by running back Lelauti Elisaia.

“Coming back from our Gregori game last week...that game was really good and we got some hype in our team and really came out loud,” Luna said. “In the first half we didn’t do as much as we wanted to coming in here, but our defense really helped us out.”

Modesto failed to convert a single first down in the game’s first half thanks to a strong showing from not only the Pride’s defensive line, but also secondary standouts like Larry Romero, who had two interceptions on back-to-back Panther possessions in the first quarter. Pitman had 186 total offensive yards in the first half compared to Modesto’s 28, and both teams finished the game with 322 and 204 total yards on the night, respectively. 

There were several missed opportunities by the Pride, however, like the fumbled snap following Romero’s first pick which put the ball back in Modesto’s hands. Running back Joey Stout sped past the Panthers in the fourth quarter enroute to a 74-yard touchdown run, only for it to be called back due to an illegal block in the back by Pitman. Despite some early trouble with false starts and fumbled snaps, the Pride was able to throw enough points on the board for a victory.

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Larry Romero, Jr. celebrates after intercepting the ball from Modesto two times giving Pitman back-to-back possessions (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

Many of those points came courtesy of junior kicker Evan Kiely, whose two field goals in the second quarter (41 yards and 23 yards) gave the Pride a secure enough lead throughout the game that two late touchdowns scored by Modesto in the game’s final four minutes weren’t enough to make a difference.

“It helps our offense out because we know if we can get to the 30-yard line, we can put some points on the board,” Weckerle said. 

Next Friday, Pitman will play Downey High at 7 p.m. at Downey High School. For Luna, this season is about enjoying every moment, no matter who the Pride’s opponent is.

“We’re really thankful, all of us, just to be in this situation right now...we were thankful to get two or three games, and we’re getting five games and playing in our league,” Luna said. “We’ve got back-to-back wins, we can’t be happier with that.”