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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL ROUNDUP : Harvard Falls to Blair; Thran Must Wait for 100th Victory

A special night for Harvard-Westlake High was ruined by the poor play of its special teams in a 24-20 loss to Blair in a nonleague opener Thursday night at Pasadena City College.

The loss postponed the 100th career victory of Harvard Coach Gary Thran, who has a record of 99-67-1 in 18 years. Harvard’s first victory since merging with Westlake this fall and trading its nickname of Saracens for Wolverines also will have to wait.

All Blair’s points were set up or scored by special-teams play. Overshadowed was the performance of running back Jeremiah Aguolu, who scored all three Harvard touchdowns and rushed for 124 yards in 20 carries. He had 100 yards in the first half.

Blair led, 21-14, at halftime but Harvard closed to 21-20 midway through the third quarter on a one-yard run by Aguolu. However, a bobbled snap on the point-after attempt prevented the Wolverines from tying the score.

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“Our kicking game just fell apart,” Aguolu said. “It’s real disappointing. I don’t know to explain it.”

Poor kick coverage also plagued Harvard. Blair’s Z-Ukino Hodges rushed for only 27 yards but scored two touchdowns on an 89-yard kickoff return in the first quarter and a 44-yard punt return in the second quarter.

A 73-yard kickoff return by Matthew Moody set up Blair’s second score, a 25-yard run by Greg Fluker.

Harvard took a 7-0 lead on the second play of the game, a 57-yard run by Aguolu. After Hodges countered with his kickoff return 14 seconds later, Harvard took a 14-7 lead with five minutes left in the first half on a five-yard run by Aguolu.

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The run capped an 84-yard, 12-play drive that chewed up 6 1/2 minutes.

Harvard’s offense sputtered most of the second half, and Blair finished the scoring with a 21-yard field goal by Alejandro Gherardi with six minutes to play.

Harvard had the ball at midfield with three minutes to play but fumbled.

“I wasn’t looking for the 100th victory,” Thran said. “I was just looking for the win. We stopped ourselves offensively by making mistakes.”

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