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Second half surge powers Downey past Pitman in league opener
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Pitman sophomore receiver Lawson Aviles runs in a 31-yard touchdown in the Pride’s league opener against Downey. The Pride lost 35-7 (KATIE DAY/The Journal).

Pitman head coach Eric Reza and his coaching staff were more than happy with what they saw from their roster in the first half of Friday night’s varsity football game against the Downey Knights (Modesto) at Joe Debely Stadium. But a second half aerial raid from the Knights was too much for the Pride to handle as they fell by a 35-7 score to open Central California Athletic League play.

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The Pride’s Andrew Azevedo delivers a pass while under heavy pressure from the Downey defense (ALEX MORALES/The Journal).

The Pride defense came out of the gates swinging as they forced two turnovers on two of Downey’s first three drives of the night. Both takeaways were made by senior defensive back Sean Forte, who first forced a fumble and then intercepted Downey quarterback Carson Lamb. Midway through the second quarter, the offense successfully converted on 4th and 12 when senior quarterback Andrew Azevedo found sophomore wideout Lawson Aviles for a 31 yard touchdown to knot the game at seven.

The struggles for the Pride began right before halftime, when Lamb and receiver Ethan Woodmansee connected on a 50 yard touchdown, foreshadowing what was to come in the final two quarters.

The Pride failed to generate much offense for the remainder of the game, much due to Downey’s flurry of blitzes. 

By game’s end, Azevedo was able to complete just 14 of 42 passes for 190 yards with an interception while trying to navigate through heavy pressure. Similarly, Pitman’s ground game was stifled as they were only able to rush for 62 yards as a team.

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Pride defensive back Sean Forte breaks up a pass during Friday’s matchup (KATIE DAY/The Journal).

“They just blitzed us up. They’re big and quick. Their blitz up the middle just gave us problems tonight,” Reza said.

With the Knights forcing three-and-outs for most of the second half, it wasn’t long before the Pride defense became exhausted. With an overworked defense lining up against him, Lamb proceeded to pass for 176 yards and a pair touchdowns in the second half alone. He also punched in a rushing score late in the fourth quarter. The junior finished with 370 yards and four touchdowns through the air and 65 rushing yards.

“Our defense played a hell of a game tonight. They did a hell of a job. I don’t care what the score says,” Reza said. “Our offense simply put them out there too long, and it’s a lot on them because that’s one good football team over there.”

With the win, the Knights improved to 5-1 on the season with a 1-0 record in the CCAL. Meanwhile, the Pride dropped to 1-5 on the year with an 0-1 in league competition.

The Pride will be back in action next week against rival Turlock in the 20th edition of the Harvest Bowl.