True, Banning of Wilmington scored on the first possession of the game, but a curious two-point conversion call by the Pilots ended up with the turning point of the game, as quarterback Austin Mendoza was hit on his right knee, and never returned to the game.
Doubly dangerous for Banning was not being able to figure out how to stop San Pedro sophomore WR/DB Antonio Frazier, as he was able to change the game with his electrifying punt returns, sparking the Pirates to a feel-good 45-6 victory over Banning for their first Marine League victory.
Frazier returned the game's first punt 45 yards for a touchdown with 1:55 left in the first quarter for a 14-6 San Pedro lead, but wasn't done. Banning punted to him again, and this time Frazier struck for a 49-yard punt return touchdown, only this time a holding penalty negated the play. Frazier also returned another punt to Banning's 7-yard line early in the second quarter for San Pedro (5-3 overall, 1-2 league)
Mendoza and running back Jacob Ortiz gave the large homecoming crowd for Banning (4-4, 1-2) something to get excited about early with a game-opening seven-play, 62-yard drive, which ended with Mendoza's 16-yard touchdown strike over the middle to wideout Joe Gama, who was completely left unattended by San Pedro defenders.
From there after Banning's failed two-point conversion, it was all Pirates.
Sophomore quarterback Jacob Miller's 12-yard touchdown run put San Pedro ahead, 7-6 with 4:10 remaining in the first quarter, a lead the Pirates would never relinquish. Then Frazier went off on the Pilots with his first punt return touchdown nearly three minutes later.
The Pirates would take a 21-6 lead into halftime with junior running back Chris Alvidrez's two-yard touchdown run coming with 4:46 left in the second quarter, and the lead would expand further in the third quarter on senior kicker Fernando Hernandez's 22-yard field goal, followed by a 19-yard touchdown run from senior running back Victor Viscarra, who had an electrifying 49-yard touchdown in the first quarter called back due to offsetting penalties.
San Pedro would tack on two more scores in the fourth quarter on a 26-yard touchdown run from senior running back Stephen Vaughn and a eight-yard touchdown run from junior running back Anthony Bolden as the regulars got some well-needed rest.
Alvidrez ran for 91 yards on 17 carries in three quarters of action, while senior linebacker Mike Hannifin recovered a fumble for San Pedro, who will travel to Washington Prep of Los Angeles next Friday.
The victory for San Pedro was their sixth straight over Banning in the Harbor Area Feud, and now the all-time series through 77 games between the two rivals is now even (37-37-3).