After every home game, the Pitman High football team walk toward the west end of Debley Stadium, stand on the track and wave their helmets and their hands to the home crowd.
On Friday night, they barely had enough strength for the post-game activity. Their helmets were barely above their heads, while the crowd roared back, but the Pride were crushed. In one of the most exciting games in the program's short history, Pitman fell 27-24 to almighty Buhach Colony High in front of at least 3,500 fans.
The loss dropped the Pride to 6-1 overall and 1-1 in the Central California Conference, while the Thunder continued to rumble. Entering Friday, Buhach Colony was ranked 15th in the state by CalHiSports.com.
The Pride were close to dethroning the defending league champ. Pitman was ahead 21-13 after AJ Derr's 30-yard field goal early in the second half. They even went for football's version of a home run when Derr, seeing his team down 27-24 late in the fourth quarter, threw a pass from the 33-yard line to Zach Olsen (three catches, 70 yards) well over the receiver's head. Derr tried to get a first down on fourth-and-3, but got stopped.
Still, the Pride had a lot to cheer about.
"We showed that we can hang with a good team," Olsen said.
The Thunder (7-0, 2-0 CCC) began the game on a 99-yard opening kick return for a touchdown by Tyler Dew. The Pride responded and tied the game at 7-7 after Derr sneaked in for a 2-yard TD. It took 12 plays and 53 yards.
One of the most exciting moments happened with about 4 minutes left in the first quarter, when Buhach Colony attempted to punt. The kicker mishandled the snap, threw the ball to teammate Prince Hallion, who was pulled down by Brennan Hauser at Buhach's 7. That set up Andres Mendez's score on the very next play to give the Pride a 14-7 edge.
Olsen, the game's standout, returned a 65-yard fumble to make it 21-13 with 6:37 in the second quarter.
Buhach Colony's final strike was early in the third, when Dew, the speed demon, raced 47 yards to give the Thunder their final score.
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail email@example.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.