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Pride still perfect heading into Harvest Bowl
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Payton Bass gains yards for the Pride during Friday’s game against Downey. Pitman won 37-33 and will head into the Harvest Bowl next week 9-0 (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

The Pitman High varsity football team continued its spectacular 2018 season Friday night with a thrilling 37-33 victory over Downey High, extending their undefeated record one more week.

“They just persevered,” Pitman head coach Tom Tyler said. “Offensively we won the football game. Defensively we did a good job and got the stops we needed to win, but offensively we played against a good defense and we got after it.”

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Pitman’s Jakob Partida scores the first touchdown for the Pride Friday evening against Downey (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

It wasn’t an easy win for the Pride (9-0 overall; 4-0 CCAL), who battled in a back-and-forth scoring match with the Knights (5-4 overall; 2-2 CCAL) for most of the game. The first half ended with Pitman up by a score of 16-13 thanks to a one-yard touchdown from running back Jakob Partida on Pitman’s first drive of the game, a 22-yard field goal by kicker Caden Speckens and a two-yard score from Jullien Lindo.

Two turnovers by the Knights — an interception by Pitman’s Joseph Vasquez and a fumble recovered by Pride linebacker Garrett Bosch — held Downey to two touchdowns in the first half.

Downey jumped ahead after the half 20-16 when quarterback Bryce Gouker connected with wide receiver Bryce Peterson on a four-yard touchdown pass, but it was the Pride who answered back with a two-yard touchdown run from running back Marcus Garza, putting the team back ahead. Downey responded with another touchdown of their own after their kick returner Robert Rivera put the team on the five-yard line thanks to a 75-yard return, then scored again just one minute later after a three and out from Pitman.

Down 33-23 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Bass and quarterback Treyton Fair led the charge, with the pair connecting on a 52-yard touchdown pass which put the Pride within striking distance, 33-30. After forcing the Knights to turnover on downs, the Pride completed a 13-play drive down the field from their own 30-yard line that ended with a two-yard push into the end zone by Garza.

“I didn’t think I got in, but I kept pushing and all of a sudden my team was on me telling me I was in,” Garza said. “I was ecstatic.”

With a minute left, Downey still had a chance to score but fate was on Pitman’s side as their onside kick bounced off a Knight’s shin and into the arms of the Pride.

“We’ve been working on that for weeks,” Tyler joked. “We were fortunate. I feel bad for the kid, but sometimes that just happens. It’s just one of those things.”

The Pride finished the night with 422 total offensive yards, while Downey collected 366. Bass led the team with 170 rushing yards on 19 carries.

Next week, the undefeated Pride will meet Turlock High on the gridiron at Joe Debely Stadium for the Harvest Bowl, which will kick off at 7 p.m. The game will determine the Central California Athletic League’s first-ever champion, as the Bulldogs are undefeated in league as well.