GARDENA, Calif -- Khalfani Muhammad from Sherman Oaks Notre Dame might not be the most high-profile prep football prospect in the Southland. The perception about him could, however, be on the verge of changing. Sooner, rather than later, mind you.
The 5-foot-9, 175-pound junior gained 186 all-purpose yards and scored a pair of touchdowns Friday night to guide the visiting Knights to a rather impressive 35-13 upset victory over Gardena Serra, which was No. 25 in the ESPNLosAngeles.com preseason rankings.
“I went out there and did my thing, my coach handed me the ball and I made some plays,'' Muhammad said. “My teammates had my back and I had their backs. That's just the way things work around here. We got the job done and had fun doing it. What a win for us.''
Muhammad has been contacted by a number of different Division I schools but does not have any official scholarship offers as of yet. Once word starts to spread about his latest effort, it's possible things will begin to change.
He gained 162 yards on the ground in 22 carries.
“We ran the ball down their throats tonight, Khalfani did a great job, he was able to do whatever he wanted out there,'' Notre Dame quarterback Kelly Hilinksi said.
Serra (0-1) struggled to move the ball with consistency. The Cavaliers played a majority of the game without their star, Raymond Ford. The UCLA-bound senior strained his right foot in the second quarter and did not return.
Muhammad caught a 30-yard pass from Hilinski to increase the lead to 33-13 with 5:16 left. That sequence essentially ruined any comeback plans the Cavaliers might have had at that point. Notre Dame (1-0) was on its way to a win.
Muhammad had a 64-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter called back because of a holding penalty. He apparently injured his leg on the play and sat on the sidelines for the rest of the series. He returned in the fourth quarter though.
With Muhammad out, the Knights started throwing the ball. Hilinski completed a pair of passes to Josh Anderson, the second of which was a 10-yarder for a score, to extend the Notre Dame advantage to 27-13 with 11:53 left in the fourth quarter.
Gardena got back on track at the end of the second quarter. Coty Garcia kicked a 26-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to cut the Notre Dame lead down to 20-13. Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, the score would get no closer.
Hilinski finished 7-of-9 for 86 yards.
Jalen Greene struggled in the first half. The first five passes attempted by the Cavaliers sophomore fell incomplete. His sixth pass was intercepted by Nick Monica and returned two yards for a touchdown to give Notre Dame a 20-10 lead with 3:31 in the second quarter.
Muhammad had runs of eight and 15 yards to get a second quarter drive started. Hilinski capped things off with a 1-yard run to give the Knights a 12-10 lead with 4:55 left before halftime.
Anterio Bateman avoided a couple of tackles at the line of scrimmage and proceeded to score on a 63-yard run to give the Cavaliers their first lead of the night, 10-6, with 9:43 remaining in the first half of play.
Muhammad carried the ball several times on the Knights' first drive and his 15-yard run gave Notre Dame a first and goal at the five-yard line. Two plays later, Muhammad scored on a one-yard run to give the Knights a 6-0 lead with 7:10 left in the first quarter.
Serra answered with a scoring drive The Cavaliers turned to their running game as Bateman picked up 25 yards on three carries to move the ball into Notre Dame territory. Minutes later, Garcia kicked a 32-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 6-3 with :31 left in the first quarter.