Wide receiver Koa Farmer took over at quarterback for an injured Grant Kraemer… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)
There's nothing Koa Farmer cannot do on the football field -- and that includes playing quarterback.
The senior all-purpose back from Sherman Oaks Notre Dame took over for injured starter Grant Kraemer in the third quarter and engineered three scoring drives that helped the Knights beat La Puente Bishop Amat, 31-21, in a Serra League opener Friday night at Notre Dame.
Farmer was honored before the game for his selection to the Blue-Grey High School All-American Bowl, to be played Jan. 11 in Tampa, Fla. The defensive backs coach for the South team is former Alabama and NFL star Mark McMillian, who was on the sidelines Friday. McMillian says he is never surprised to see Farmer making highlight-reel plays. In fact, he expects it.
"A lot of kids are great athletes but Koa is a student of the game and I've been coaching him at camps and combines for several years so I've seen him do some remarkable things," said McMillian, who played against Farmer's father in high school when McMillian was at Granada Hills Kennedy and Jamal Farmer was at Granada Hills. "Koa sees things before they happen and that's why he makes it look so easy."
Notre Dame's homecoming halftime show included a fireworks display worthy of any Fourth of July celebration, but it was Farmer who provided the real spark for the Knights, returning the second-half kickoff 65 yards to set up the go-ahead score, then taking over at quarterback after Kraemer suffered an apparent shoulder injury running for a two-point conversion that put Notre Dame (5-2) ahead 14-7 early in the third quarter.
Short touchdown runs by Anthony Carmargo and Adrian Ortega pulled Bishop Amat to within 24-21 with 2:28 left, but Farmer iced the Knights' victory with a weaving 24-yard keeper with 1:34 left, following a wall of blockers around the corner and reaching the end zone untouched.
"I was pretty confident going in [at quarterback] because I played it all my life before high school," said Farmer, who has committed to California. "That last run was just reading the option but it was all about my offensive line -- those guys did a great job. This was a total team win -- everybody stepped up."
Farmer ran 20 yards for a first down to keep Notre Dame's second drive alive, then caught a 12-yard pass in the flat, juked two defenders and scored to give the Knights a 6-0 lead late in the first quarter. Lucas Alfonso's extra point try hooked wide -- his first miss in 28 attempts this season. He also missed a 47-yard field goal but made amends on a 34-yard kick in the third quarter.
Late in the second quarter, Farmer's 24-yard catch and run on third down extended another drive, which ended with Alfonso missing a 47-yard field goal. Farmer finished with 72 yards in eight carries and three receptions for 47 yards. He also quarterbacked a defensive secondary that intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble.
"That team was averaging a ton of points so to hold them to what they got was a great job by our defense," Knights Coach Kevin Rooney said. "We got three takeaways and we won the turnover battle, which we didn't do last week (a 46-43 loss to West Hills Chaminade). I thought our tackling was excellent."
Brandon Arconado's 89-yard punt return for a touchdown put Bishop Amat in front, 7-6, midway through the second quarter and the Lancers (5-2) nearly extended their lead at the end of the first half but Matt Zahn's 46-yard field goal attempt fell short as time expired.
Notre Dame next hosts Mission Hills Alemany, which was stunned by Los Angeles Loyola in its league opener.