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Another last-second Notre Dame-Crespi game goes Knights' way

Friday's latest classic sees Khalfani Muhammad score on a 13-yard TD run. Notre Dame had missed on a 39-yard field-goal attempt, only to get a second chance due to a penalty. Crespi came in at 7-0.

October 14, 2012|Eric Sondheimer

It's 7 o'clock on Saturday morning at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, and a detention class for being tardy has never felt better for linebacker JJ Muno. He's wearing a ski cap, he's limping badly and acting zombie-like, but it's no surprise since he and his teammates are still feeling a little delirious after pulling out a 40-34 victory over Encino Crespi in four overtimes only hours earlier.

It was the fourth consecutive season the Crespi-Notre Dame game had ended on the final play. Friday night's latest classic saw Khalfani Muhammad score on a 13-yard touchdown run after Notre Dame missed on a 39-yard field-goal attempt, only to get a second chance because of a roughing-the-kicker penalty. Crespi came in with a 7-0 record.

"I don't know what it is about the two schools," Muno said. "We just fight to the very end. It was an amazing feeling unlike anything I've been a part of."

In the training room, lineman A.J. Aguilera had ice on his knee and talked about what it meant for the Knights (5-3, 1-1) to win the Serra League game over their neighborhood rivals.

"I was crying I was so happy," he said.

Quarterback Kelly Hilinski showed off bruises to his ribs and cuts on his side after passing for 285 yards and two touchdowns.

"Don't bother coming to the first and third quarters," Hilinski said. "As long as you come for the fourth quarter, you're fine. I feel bad if anyone didn't come to watch this game."

Coach Kevin Rooney, in his 33rd season, didn't look much better than his players getting out of his car. He was carrying a coffee cup and limping, as if he had to make a tackle or two on Friday night.

"I'm just old," he said.

Notre Dame received help from three unsung heroes. Koa Farmer caught a game-tying 20-yard touchdown pass with 18 seconds left in regulation. Chris Colarossi blocked a Crespi field-goal attempt in the third overtime, and sophomore cornerback Mike Little had an interception and forced a fumble filling in for injured starter Nick Holland.

"It feels great," Rooney said. "It was a battle the whole way. There were several times it seemed all was lost and we managed to make plays. A lot of kids did some remarkable things."

Notre Dame is trying to avoid missing the Pac-5 playoffs for a third consecutive season. Just this past week, two football coaches lost their jobs in the seventh week of the season. The pressure to win keeps rising, but Rooney and his players haven't lost sight of what high school sports are supposed to be about.

"We have great kids, and the kids have stuck together when things didn't go well," Rooney said. "In the end, we're trying to be part of their education and they're learning how to deal with adversity, how to battle back and how to not give up. I think it will be important for them as they move forward in their lives."

27 wins in a row

Lompoc (7-0) has won 27 consecutive games, the latest a 49-0 victory over Santa Maria. Even more impressive, the Braves have won their last four games without standout running back Lavon Coleman (thigh injury).

Lompoc is ranked No. 1 in the Western Division.

55-yard field goal

Senior Michael Tulchin of Palos Verdes kicked a career-long 55-yard field goal on Friday in a 48-13 victory over Manhattan Beach Mira Costa.

"A couple weeks ago, I tried a 55-yarder but pulled it left," he said. "I had to keep my head down."

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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