LA PUENTE >> The Oaks Christian football team had rarely trailed this year, so when it fell behind in the first quarter at Bishop Amat, it needed someone to deliver.
What it got was a superhero effort from Michael Pittman that almost made it a reality.
Pittman finished with 16 receptions for 356 yards and five touchdowns, but it was not enough as Oaks Christian lost 61-40 at Bishop Amat in the CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division quarterfinals.
As Oaks Christian (11-1) tasted defeat for the first time this season, Pittman left his mark with a performance that had even the Bishop Amat crowd in awe.
“I had to do it for my team, and I felt like I owed it to them,” Pittman said.
Matt Corral contributed to the rally with 438 yards on 24-of-44 passing as Pittman put on a one-man show against the Bishop Amat (10-2) secondary. Pittman’s fifth touchdown brought Oaks Christian within 38-33 with 10:55 left in the game after the Lions trailed 21-0 in the first quarter.
Bishop Amat then responded with 23 unanswered points, capped by a 55-yard touchdown run by quarterback Damian Garcia.
Torreahno Sweet was a one-man wrecking crew for Bishop Amat as the senior running back finished with 33 carries for a school single-game record 370 yards and three touchdowns.
Sweet opened the game with rushing touchdowns on Bishop Amat’s first two possessions. While Oaks Christian struggled to move the ball, Bishop Amat was in high gear, and Tyler Vaughns’ 10-yard touchdown catch had the Amat crowd thinking a rout was at hand.
That’s when Oaks Christian turned to Pittman, who caught a 7-yard touchdown to open the second quarter. After Hayden Galvin had an interception for the Lions at the Amat 1-yard line, Corral found Pittman on a slant, and the senior raced 99 yards to the end zone.
“My teammates just set me up with great blocks, and great throws made it possible,” Pittman said.
Pittman added a 25-yard touchdown just before halftime before opening the third quarter with a 57-yard catch and run.
Bishop Amat added a 28-yard field goal to make it 38-27 and then got a defensive stop when Tommy Chavez intercepted Corral in the end zone. After Pittman brought the Lions within five, Bishop Amat scored on a 20-yard touchdown by Xavier Chavez followed by a 13-yard score by Trevon Sidney.
Tyler Vaughns also had a touchdown for Bishop Amat and after Pittman carried him into the end zone on his final touchdown, Vaughns got even with his fellow USC commit as he intercepted a pass intended for Pittman in the fourth quarter.
Gil’Scott Jackson II added a late touchdown for Oaks Christian as he finished with 114 yards on 22 carries.
It was a disappointing end for the Lions but after missing the playoffs last season, the team was proud of making head coach Jim Benkert’s first season a memorable one.
“It’s just incredible that we went from 5-5 to 11-1. No one thought we’d make it this far,” Galvin said.
– Evan Barnes, Los Angeles Daily News