PITTSBURG -- Since a season-opening loss, the Pittsburg High football team has been on a roll by following a simple formula: Let Harris Ross run.
That formula was in place Friday night as the senior running back was electric once again. And it nearly worked, if only visiting Granite Bay wasn't forced to alter its winning offensive formula.
With its top running back Tony Ellison sidelined by an injury in the first quarter, the Grizzlies put the game in the hands of quarterback Josh Neal and his top target Marc Ellis. The tandem connected 12 times, including a 26-yard touchdown with 5:15 to go that was the difference in a 39-35 win.
Pittsburg (3-2) had two possessions after the go-ahead scoring pass, but both ended in turnovers. The last came on an interception at the Granite Bay 25-yard line with four seconds left in the game. The Pirates had driven to the Grizzlies 45 without any timeouts before the interception sealed the win.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game," Pittsburg coach Victor Galli said. "We just bent a little too much"
Granite Bay (3-1) nearly became the latest victim of Ross' torrid September.
The senior running back entered the game with 888 yards rushing in his previous three games, including a North Coast Section-record of 464 yards at Monte Vista-Danville. On Friday he carried 22 times for 297 yards and scoring runs of 66, 58 and 73 yards.
Neal passes for a season-high 281 yards on 18 completions and no interceptions. Ellis caught 12 for 177 yards.
This was the fifth meeting between the two schools in as many years. Granite Bay won the first three matches from 2009-2011 before the Pirates won last season's meeting 28-27 in overtime. The Grizzlies would rebound from that loss to close the season with 12 straight wins and a CIF Div. I State Bowl victory.
Pittsburg has a bye next week and hosts Heritage in its Bay Valley Athletic League opener on Oct. 11.