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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Elementary for Holmes in Win Over Alemany

Football: Linebacker detects pattern in quarterback, returns interception 67 yards to spark Harvard-Westlake, 39-37.

October 25, 1998|MIKE BRESNAHAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

STUDIO CITY — It's almost humorous, the position that Alex Holmes was playing when he changed the complexion of the game.

Secrecy, camouflage and covert behavior don't exactly come to mind when discussing the 6-foot-3, 300-pound Holmes.

But in the fourth quarter against Alemany High with the outcome in doubt, there was Holmes, dropping into pass coverage as, of all things, the spy.

Holmes, a linebacker assigned to track the movement of quarterback Casey Clausen, intercepted a pass and returned it 67 yards for a touchdown that gave Harvard-Westlake the lead for good in a 39-37 nonleague victory Saturday.

The interception, which made the score 36-29 with 8:57 to play, pushed Harvard-Westlake (6-1) toward its biggest victory since beating Notre Dame in 1994.

"During films, we saw that [Clausen] looks immediately to the side he's going to throw to," Holmes said. "He looks away, but he always comes back to that side."

The last two weeks have not been good to Alemany (4-3), ranked No. 10 in the region by The Times.

The Indians were trounced by Loyola, 60-20, Oct. 16, and days later learned that next year they will move from Division III to Division I, where their league mates will be St. Paul, Bishop Amat and Loyola, teams with a combined record of 21-0 this season.

"When it rains, it pours," Alemany Coach Jim Bonds said.

The Harvard-Westlake ground game must have seemed like a thunderstorm.

The Wolverines didn't match the 411 rushing yards Loyola racked up against Alemany last week, but George Witter ran for 159 yards and two touchdowns in 33 carries.

Harvard-Westlake's play selection (45 runs, 14 passes) revealed an obvious game plan.

"I'm sure they saw the game film against Loyola," Bonds said.

Capitalizing on a fumble by running back De'Andre Scott, the Wolverines surprisingly took a 15-0 lead near the end of the first quarter on a 16-yard scoring run by Robert Van Norden.

The Alemany offense, too strong to be shut out for long, roared back to a 29-22 lead near the end of the third quarter when Clausen hooked up with Devin Montgomery on an 87-yard touchdown pass play.

But Harvard-Westlake, firmly committed to the run at this point, tied the score on a 61-yard drive, took the lead on Holmes' interception and produced a 32-yard field goal by Dan Berghoff on its next drive for a 39-29 advantage.

The Wolverines ran the ball on 20 of their last 24 plays.

"Just a great, gutty effort by the kids," Coach Dave Bennett said. "It's one of the best victories during my [six years] here."

Clausen completed 20 of 34 passes for 335 yards and three touchdowns, with four interceptions.

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