The Pitman High varsity football team emerged victorious from a hard-fought battle Friday night, defeating Golden Valley High 28-27 in a game that saw the Pride’s first win earned during the final minutes.
Pitman head coach Eric Reza said it was exciting — and relieving — to see his team grab their first victory of the season. Friday would have typically been a bye week for the Pride ahead of the start of league play this week, but their Sept. 10 matchup against the Cougars was rescheduled for Sept. 24. After the win, the Pride is now 1-3.
“It was a lot of excitement, but also a relief. It was relieving because now the kids are thinking, ‘Okay, we’re not going to go [zero] and whatever because we got that win,’” Reza said. “We won a game and now we're going to try and ride this momentum into league.”
Junior quarterback Drew Walker got the start on Friday and came out strong with a 30-yard touchdown pass and successful two-point conversion in the first quarter. Despite Pitman scoring those eight unanswered points in the first quarter of the game, they were outscored 13-7 in the second to enter halftime with just a two-point lead, 15-13. By the end of the third quarter, Golden Valley had jumped ahead 27-22.
After an excellent punt return by Joey Stout which gave the Pride perfect field position, Pitman took a 28-27 lead early in the fourth quarter and was able to hold on to the lead for the win. Reza also credited senior kicker Evan Kiely, whose punting and kicks kept the Pride in the game all night.
“I think it’s fair to say he might have had the play of the game,” Reza said of one punt, which pinned the Cougars down on their own one-yard line late in the game.
With the start of Central California Athletic League play on Friday against Turlock High in the Harvest Bowl, Reza views it as a fresh starting point for his team to turn the page on their 1-3 pre-league record and look ahead to the rest of the season.
“We always tell them it's a new season now. And of course, we’ve got the reigning champs first. We're going to have to play our best game and we're going to have to really work hard if we want to defeat Turlock because they are a really good program,” Reza said. “They have a lot of talented kids and they're going to be a tough opponent, but our kids are ready for the challenge.”
Pitman (1-3) will be the away team for this year’s Harvest Bowl, where they’ll take on Turlock High (1-4) at Joe Debely Stadium in Turlock at 7 p.m. Friday.