Pitman High School faced West High School Thursday for the third time in Sac-Joaquin Section playoff history. The Pride entered Joe Debely Stadium with intensity, determined not to be eliminated by the Wolfpack for a third time.
To ensure a win, Pitman (10-1) enlisted the talents of Brent Nelle, Kody Brackett and Andres Mendez; rotating the three running backs in an out of the game, a strategy that resulted in a slew of rushing touchdowns. In the end the variety and aggression displayed by the Pride was too much for West (6-5) to handle as they fell 35-14.
“It’s kind of what we’ve done all year,” head coach Brandon Harris said. “We have three or four really good backs and they were a good defense so we had to spread it all around.”
Nelle led the scoring effort, running in three of the Pride’s five rushing touchdowns.
“We had a simple plan and we executed,” Nelle said. “Our line did great, the holes were huge and I just took advantage of it.”
Brackett, who finished the game with 188 rushing yards, also ran for two touchdowns and Mendez contributed as well with one touchdown. When the contest was over Pitman’s rushing game accounted for 416 yards of its 427 total yards.
Pitman’s offensive fireworks were complimented by a stingy defense led by Kyle Martinez. The Pride held West to 241 yards of total offense and contained the Wolfpack’s Patrick Wilson to a less than stellar 72 rushing yards.
Early in the game West led 7-0, scoring in the first quarter thanks to a defensive mistake by Pitman, but it was the last time they would be on top.
“On the first drive we stopped them, then roughing the punter kept them alive,” Harris said. “With a good team like that in the playoffs, if you give them too many chances they’ll score.”
West didn’t get many more chances. By the time they scored again it was late in the fourth quarter and the game was all but over.
Pitman must now prepare to go on the road and play a tough Pleasant Grove (10-1) football team of the Delta River League.
“I’m excited about the challenge,” Harris said. “We’re just going to enjoy tonight. Then tomorrow, go lift some weights and watch some film and get back in there Monday.”
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