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CCC Football: They do, run, run, they do run, run

TURLOCK -- Like the rest of his teammates, Los Banos receiver Donovan Williams came into Friday night hoping to do something special.

For the first time in close to a decade, Los Banos had a shot at making the playoffs.

Instead, it was Pitman punching its post-season ticket for a fourth straight year.

Pitman pounded the ball with its stable of running backs en route to 408 yards on the ground in a 42-21 win at Joe Debeley Stadium.

The win wrapped up the Central California Conference's second playoff spot for Pitman (5-1 CCC, 7-2 overall).

"It hurts a lot," Williams said. "We worked hard all season and we made some big improvements from previous years.

"To have a shot and actually not make the playoffs..."

Pitman ran straight ahead, around and right through the Los Banos defense.

Henry Gonzales rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Jeremy Davis racked up

159 rushing yards and Stefan Palacio added 74 yards and three touchdowns from his fullback position.

Pitman hurt Los Banos on the edge of its defensive line all night long.

"They killed us," said LB coach Dennis Stubbs, whose team dropped to 3-2 in the CCC and 5-4 overall. "That was basically the game.

"They overloaded the strong side and then they'd overload the weakside. We thought we'd have people there and they still got outside.

"We knew exactly what they were doing. We just couldn't stop it."

Jasbir Singh's 53-yard fumble return for a touchdown gave Los Banos some brief hope it could stay in the game late in the first quarter.

However, Pitman scored 21 second-quarter points to open up a 35-7 lead at the half.

The win was Pitman's fifth straight victory after opening CCC play with a loss to Merced.

"Right after that loss, our coaches told us the playoffs were basically starting now," Palacio said.

"We knew we had to keep winning to stay alive and we did it."

Los Banos running back Casey Cotta finished with 94 yards rushing and a touchdown.

Los Banos did have some success moving the ball in the second half.

Quarterback Julio Cortez completed 16 of 34 passes for 154 yards.

Cortez hooked up with Williams for a 5-yard touchdown that cut the lead to 42-21 with 11:56 remaining in the game.

A turnover on Pitman's next possession had the Los Banos sideline excited for a moment.

However, after a three-and-out, Pitman ran out the final 8:52.

"I don't have any complaints," Stubbs said. "Our guys did everything we asked them to do.

"It's still frustrating. We had a chance tonight to do something really special."

Los Banos will end its season next week at home against Merced, which clinched the CCC title and top seed in the playoffs with a 34-0 win over Atwater.

"Making the playoffs would have been awesome," Williams said. "It would have been a great experience for us and our whole town.

"I'm sad we didn't get to do it. But we tried as hard as we could."

Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or via e-mail at sjansen@mercedsun-star.com">sjansen@mercedsun-star.com.

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