After its first loss of the season, Pickering rebounded to knock off a Class 4A school on the road.

The Red Devils offense exploded in the first half to defeat Grant 54-42 Friday night.

"We confirmed that we are going to fight in every game," Pickering head coach Ryan Russo said. "We are still cleaning up some things. It's going to be an ongoing process to get better. They are committed to it, and the coaches are committed to getting better. Hopefully, we'll improve week-by-week."

Pickering came out of the gate hot, scoring on its first three possessions – two by running back Marlon Freeney – to go up 20-7 in the first quarter.

"We were looking for a good start, and we jumped out to a fast start like we have the last two weeks," Russo said. "We just need to put four quarters together. We've had good first quarters, second quarters and stretches of the third quarter. We just haven't put a full game together yet."

Pickering quarterback Braden LeBato hit running back Greg Jones for a 17-yard touchdown, Freeney added another touchdown run and Evan Bush had a pick-6 to make it 42-20 at halftime.

In the second half, Grant took advantage of Pickering's miscues and turnovers to pull within 12 going into the final quarter.

"A lot of it was just us being out of position," Russo said. "When you get a pass interference or a holding call, for the most part, it's because you are out of position and are trying to make up for it. It's just knowing the game plan, staying focused and knowing what your assignment is. We have to understand what is at stake.

"Grant's defense did a good job in the second half. Two weeks in a row, they have made adjustments at halftime and executed on their side. You have to give them a lot of credit, too."

LeBato ran in a 35-yard touchdown early in the fourth, but Grant responded with a score of its own on the next possession. The Cougars added another safety but could not find paydirt again, as Pickering left with the win.

Freeney finished with 194 yards and three touchdowns – most coming in the first half after tweaking his ankle – and LeBato was 7-for-15 for 106 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 105 yards.

"(Freeney) is doing a great job for us," Russo said about the freshman. "He's very smart for being that young. He understands what the offense is trying to do, and we can plug him into several spots, and he can flourish.

"(LeBato) has been doing the same things he has been doing. He can do it in the air and on the ground. We did some quarterback design runs with him that were very successful. Anytime he drops back to pass and the play breaks down, he's one of the best making something out of it."

Pickering has a short week ahead, going against Lake Arthur Thursday night at home.

"We just have to control what we can do," Russo said. "They are a great opponent, and (Torrell Levias) is a heck of a running back. I'm watching film on him now. It's going to take a team effort from all of us to beat them. It's not going to be one thing here or there."