Pittman's big pick lifts Christian Liberty past Mooseheart
James Pittman and his Christian Liberty teammates had seen this story before during their 23-game losing streak.
The Chargers would play their hearts out on both sides of the ball for 48 minutes, but each time would come away with a disheartening defeat.
This time, however, the tale had a different ending.
Pittman's 55-yard interception return for a touchdown with two minutes remaining capped a Chargers rally from 18 points down in a 35-32 home victory over Mooseheart in Northeastern Athletic Conference play.
"It's never over 'til it's over," said Pittman, a senior who plays linebacker on defense and quarterbacks the offense.
"This is huge," added Pittman. "I didn't do this for myself. I did it for all the guys out there."
Christian Liberty trailed 32-14 midway through the third quarter, but sophomore Joel Roberts, who made two clutch defensive plays in the final minute, said that the Chargers felt the whole game they could win.
"We were never out of it," said Roberts.
Christian Liberty started strong, as senior Caleb Schiller rang up 2 early sacks and Jimmy Calkins (9-yard run) and Pittman (1-yard run) staked the Chargers (1-5, 1-4) to an early lead.
But Mooseheart quarterback Ryan Young, who ran for 210 yards and 3 touchdowns and threw for another, helped propel the Ramblers to a 19-14 halftime lead.
Mooseheart scored twice more early in the third quarter to take what appeared to be a insurmountable lead, but Christian Liberty didn't give
"At that point I might have had the slightest doubt," said CLA senior Nick Gonzalez, "but that was terrible thinking. We had almost a whole half to go."
The Chargers comeback began late in the third, when Calkins found the end zone from 3 yards out.
Then Schiller caught a 6 yard-pass from Pittman late in the fourth to bring the Chargers within 4 points.
Mooseheart got the ball back with 3:33 remaining and needed just one
more first down to put the game in the win column, but Pittman spoiled that plan by stepping in front of a Young pass over the middle and racing in for the game-winning TD.
"I read the quarterback's eyes," said Pittman, "and once I caught the ball I knew I had to get into the end zone."
Mooseheart drove to midfield on their final drive but two pretty tackles from Roberts on Young, one on fourth down, sealed the Chargers' win.
Senior Diego Cardenas ran 17 times for 115 yards in the victory Saturday while Calkins added 100 yards on the ground.
Calkins also caught 4 passes for 32 yards.
"This is amazing," said Gonzalez. "Crazy. I'm not surprised that James (Pittman) was the one to do this. We were so close, and his interception just locked it in."