ATWATER — Nathan Duran ripped off his helmet in frustration and had to restrain himself from slamming it to the turf.
The Atwater sophomore quarterback set career highs in passing yards and touchdowns on Friday night, but all the Falcons are going to remember is the opportunities they squandered.
In a game with numerous momentum shifts, Atwater kept itself one play away from catching up all night. The Falcons finally ran out of chances as Pitman held on for a 28-21 victory at Falcon Field.
"Too many turnovers, too many points left on the field," Falcons head coach Bob Valladao said. "I thought we did a good job of being physical and fighting to the very end, but we made too many mistakes.
"Pitman was the better team tonight."
The Pride never trailed, capitalizing on a first-quarter punt that struck an Atwater player and handed the Pride the ball at the Falcon 25-yard line.
Cody Brackett ran in a 1-yard score four plays later to make it 7-0.
Pitman (1-1 Central California Conference, 6-1) doubled its lead when Wyatt Clapper found a wide open Brennan Hauser with a 23-yard play-action pass in the second quarter.
Atwater (1-1 CCC, 5-2) needed just four plays to answer. Matt Parker (4 catches for 103 yards) gave the Falcons a first-and-goal with a 49-yard reception and Duran found Cory Maxwell for a 5-yard TD pass to make it 14-7 at the half.
Atwater seemed to have momentum going into the locker room, and perhaps sensing that, opened the second half with a successful onside kick.
The Falcons marched down to the Pitman 4-yard line, but turned the ball over on downs. It was the second time on the night Atwater came away with no points from inside the 10 and it proved the decisive sequence of the night.
Pitman seized the momentum, marching 96 yards for a score. Brent Nelle ran in from seven yards out to make it 21-7 Pride.
"Two chances inside the 10 and we got nothing," Valladao said. "You can't do that against good teams and expect to win."
Still, Atwater never went away.
The two teams exchanged a flurry of scores to start the fourth quarter.
Duran (16-28 for 206 yards, 3 TDs and 2 INTs) found Joe Flores in the corner of the end zone with a 31-yard strike. Hauser countered with a 56-yard TD reception three plays later. Ronald Evans took the ensuing kickoff 77 yards for a score to cut the lead to 28-20.
The Atwater defense got three straight defensive stands, but the Falcon offense couldn't take advantage.
"It just felt like we were always a step behind," Maxwell said. "We just never got all the way back."