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Los Banos' last dash falls short against Pitman

Los Banos running back Darron Brown (35) runs around the corner in LB's 34-28 loss to Pitman on Friday night.
Los Banos running back Darron Brown (35) runs around the corner in LB's 34-28 loss to Pitman on Friday night. LOS BANOS ENTERPRISE PHOTO BY GENE LIEB

LOS BANOS -- Erik Martin was ready to celebrate.

The Los Banos quarterback saw teammate Manuel Haro come down with a pass in the back of the end zone on the final play of the game.

Martin wasn't the only one.

Many of his teammates were jumping up and down on their way toward the field.

After a couple of seconds, however, the official nearest the play waved his arms to signal the pass was incomplete.

Instead, it was Pitman's sideline rushing the field to celebrate a thrilling 34-28 win Friday night at Loftin Stadium.

"I really think he scored," said Martin, who threw for 254 yards and three touchdowns.

"He told the ref he caught the ball. It looked like he came down inbounds. He's only got to get one foot down."

Like Martin, coach Dennis Stubbs was ready to celebrate.

"I was waiting for him to make the call because I'm ready for an explosion on our sideline," Stubbs said.

"Everyone that saw the play said there was no question he caught the ball. It was whether he came down inbounds.

"Then later, I hear from people he was definitely in and it was a question of whether he caught the ball.

"What are you going to do? There's no instant replay."

It was an exciting ending to a Halloween thriller that saw the two offenses dominate the first half.

Pitman (3-1 Central California Conference, 6-2 overall) ran left, right and through a confused Los Banos defense.

Junior Marcus Sanders racked up 227 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.

Los Banos (2-2, 4-4) fought its way back from an early 21-7 deficit with its aerial attack.

With running back Darron Brown slowed with a leg injury, Los Banos went almost exclusively through the air.

Rubal "The Showman" Sangha came up big -- 12 catches for 146 yards and three first-half touchdowns.

"We knew we could fight back because we've done it so many times this season," Sangha said.

Both defenses settled down in the second half, and Pitman linebacker Ricky Eckert came up with a big 12-yard interception return for a touchdown that put Pitman ahead 34-21 late in the third quarter.

Despite the loss, LB still has a realistic chance to reach the playoffs.

Los Banos has the tie-breaker if Pitman, Turlock and Los Banos all finish in a three-way tie for second behind Merced in the CCC.

Turlock and Pitman play Merced over the next two weeks.

"We have no choice but to root for Merced," Sangha.

"But we didn't want it to come to this. We didn't want to have to pray for another team to win.

"We wanted control of our own destiny."