Pitman High played its first home football game at of the 2022 season on Friday night at Joe Debely Stadium, facing the Wolfpack of Cosumnes Oaks (Elk Grove). Although the Pride were coming off of a dominant 26-7 victory against Central Valley last week, they entered this week’s matchup without senior starting quarterback Drew Walker, who did not play due to a positive COVID-19 test. Walker’s absence impacted the Pride immensely as they fell to the Wolfpack by a score of 42-6.
The Pride defense got off to a stellar start. On the first drive of the game, Pitman safety Dylan Freeman intercepted Cosumnes quarterback Ranvir Malhi. Though the Pride found themselves in great field position, running back Joey Stout fumbled on their own side of the field.
With the Wolfpack now with great field position, Malhi was able to break the goal line for a touchdown and give his team an early 7-0 lead.
Turnovers continued to haunt the home team. Stout, who was serving as quarterback, found himself scrambling in the backfield amid heavy pressure. With defenders attempting to drag him down, Stout tossed an off-balance throw that was intercepted and returned 21 yards for a touchdown.
“[Drew] is a big part of our offense, and you saw it. We really struggled without him tonight,” said Pitman head coach Eric Reza.
Stout added that playing the quarterback position was not something to which he was completely accustomed heading into the game.
“That was my first time really at quarterback in a varsity game, so we just struggled with getting the ball in the air,” he said.
After a three-and-out by the Pride, the Wolfpack refused to take their foot off the gas as they drove 62 yards down the field, capping their possession with a 1-yard touchdown run by running back Brandon Lambert.
Fortunately for the home crowd, the Pride kept hope alive as they answered with a 63-yard drive of their own, ending with Stout scoring a touchdown from 2 yards out, making it 21-6 after a missed extra point.
With two minutes remaining in the half, the Wolfpack threatened to score for a fourth time. At third-and-goal from the Pitman 4-yard line with three seconds to play in the half, Pitman defensive end Alex Rodriguez broke through the offensive line to sack Malhi as time expired.
Reza praised Rodriguez and the rest of his squad for continuing to put in effort and make great plays despite the score.
“The guys we had out here did a heck of a job. They worked their butts off and that’s all we can ask for,” he said.
While the Wolfpack were held at bay heading into the half, they came out of the locker room on the hunt with Malhi rushing for a 4-yard touchdown. After a Pitman turnover on downs on the ensuing drive, Malhi decided to show off his arm this time, launching a 59-yard touchdown to wide receiver Myles McFarland, making it 35-6. The Wolfpack would add another touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 29-yard run by Lambert.
“We just need to come back to practice, get mental reps, get our heads right, brush this off and get ready for next week,” Stout said.
The Pride hope to bounce back with a fully healthy roster next week at Patterson.