CLAYTON (N.J.) - The Pitman High School football team suffered back-to-back one-score losses to its biggest rival Clayton.
This year, the Panthers left no doubt with a 29-13 win over Clayton. Stephen Devanney scored three touchdowns and the defense surrendered zero points in the second half.
Pitman's Stephen Devanney holds a trophy after the Panthers defeated Clayton, 29-13, in the 98th annual Thanksgiving Day matchup played at Haupt Field in Clayton, New Jersey on Thursday, November 23, 2023. Chris Baker/D2 Sports Network
Devanney reeled in a pair of touchdowns catches and scampered into the end zone on the ground to increase Pitman's lead late in the fourth quarter.
The Clippers struck first when Demetris Williams rumbled in the end zone from 40 yards out. Pitman immediately responded with a passing touchdown from Kyle Kubat to Devanney. Clayton regained the lead with a 14-play drive that resulted with a five-yard plunge by Isaac Taylor to pay dirt. Kubat linked up with Devanney for another touchdown to give Pitman a 14-13 lead and momentum heading into the intermission.
Pitman found the end zone again in the fourth quarter when Chase Rollins powered in from a yard out after Trey Tinges recovered a fumble on Clayton's one-yard line.
Following a punt by the Panthers, Tinges snared an interception on the first play from scrimmage to set up a Pitman drive just outside of the red zone.
Devanney capped the drive on 12-yard jet sweep to the end zone that helped secure a win in the 98th meeting between the two programs on Thanksgiving.
This year's senior class were freshmen when the Panthers last defeated their Gloucester County rival. Brayden Yordy made the game-winning tackle on the one-yard line to give Pitman a 13-12 win in 2020.
"We finally got a huge weight off of our chest," Pitman coach Chris Thomas said. "This senior class has been special and has really left their mark on our program."
Kubat wasn't on the team as a freshman. He's only experienced losses in each meeting with Clayton on Thanksgiving. This time around, he went out a winner.
"It feels good to finally beat them," Kubat said. "I didn't play football my freshman year so I was used to losing close games back-to-back years."
The Panthers opened the season with a 1-4 record in their first five contests. Pitman rattled off five straight wins to conclude the season with a 6-4 record.
"We were trending downward toward the middle of the year," Devanney said. "Something just clicked and we were able to rattle off five straight wins to end the year. I think it shows how tough and determined this team was throughout the year."