For its postgame libation Friday night, Harvard High's football team should have broken out the Orange Crush. It would have been appropriate after the Saracens crushed Orange High, 21-10, in a Desert-Mountain Conference quarterfinal at El Modena High.
Harvard (11-1), the Desert-Mountain Conference runner-up a year ago, overcame a 10-0 first-period deficit to advance to Friday's semifinal against St. Joseph's, a 34-0 winner over La Sierra.
After allowing scores the first two times the Panthers had the ball, the Harvard defense tightened up. It was all a matter of adjustments, according to Saracens Coach Gary Thran.
"They came out with almost a completely different offense than we had been practicing against," Thran said. "It just took a little while for us to adjust to it."
Rather than a wing-T, Orange (7-5) came out in a power-I set and moved 80 yards in eight plays with Paul Maund scoring on a 13-yard run. Maund rushed for 93 yards, but 82 came in the first half, including 45 on the opening drive.
The Saracens were forced to punt on their first series, and the Panthers quickly marched from their 12 to the Harvard 22, where Victor Esparza drilled a 39-yard field goal to put Orange ahead, 10-0, with 30 seconds left in the first period.
Then it was the Saracens' turn.
Quarterback Mike Patterson, who ran for two touchdowns and threw for another, engineered a 10-play, 56-yard drive, scoring on a 1-yard run with 7:34 left in the half. Tailback Andy Bell, who led all rushers with 159 yards on 24 carries, had kept the drive alive with a four-yard gain on fourth-and-one at the Panthers' seven. Bell has rushed for 318 yards in two playoff games.
Late in the second period, Harvard marched again and scored when Patterson threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Sikking on a slant-in with 1:10 left. The key play of the drive was Patterson's 35-yard pass to tight end Steve McRae. Dominic Sandifer's PAT put Harvard ahead, 14-10, at halftime.
The Saracens' domination continued in the third period as they took the kickoff and drove 69 yards for another touchdown. Patterson again did the honors, faking a pitch to Bell and racing 32 yards for the score. Sandifer, who missed field goals of 63 and 35 yards in the fourth period, added the extra point for a 21-10 Saracen lead.
Patterson rushed for 60 yards on 13 carries and completed 4 of 5 passes for 76 yards, 25 on a key play in Harvard's final scoring drive. On second and 25 at the Harvard 27, Patterson eluded a blitz and connected with Alex Huh on a screen pass for a first down to the Panther 48.
"Patterson's just an excellent ballplayer," Thran said. "He makes this team go. You saw how he can fake the option so they don't even know where the ball is. And he did it on both sides of the ball."
On defense, Patterson made several big tackles on Orange's speedy Kerry Reed, who rushed for 66 yards and had 63 yards on four receptions. He also intercepted a Mike Stock pass to shut down the Panthers' final drive in the closing minutes.
After giving up 121 yards on Orange's first two possessions, Harvard held the Panthers to 22 yards the rest of the first half, and only 62 in the third period.