On a rainy night at Hofstra University's Shuart Stadium, Sachem North's Davon Lawrence offered a calm in the storm for Long Island, scoring its only touchdown at Tuesday's Outback Steakhouse Empire Challenge.
His 3-yard scoring run on the first play of the second quarter kept Long Island in the game for much of the contest, but New York City quarterback Jordan Rodriguez put the game away on a short dive for a touchdown with 2:01 remaining to give the City a 15-10 win before 8,224 fans.
The game, which is in its 15th year - Long Island leads the series 7-6 - is meant to raise money and awareness to fight cystic fibrosis and support youth football in the New York metropolitan area. Boomer Esiason, a former NFL quarterback who hails from East Islip, has helped fight cystic fibrosis for years because his son Gunnar suffers from the disease.
Joining Lawrence on the Long Island roster from Sachem was defensive lineman Joe Kirchner, who is headed to Cortland, as well as North head coach Dave Falco, who coached the running backs and trainer Mike Wulforst. Pete Blieberg, who will take over as Sachem's new athletic director July 1, was the game coordinator.
Brooklyn Poly Prep's Devante Wheeler intercepted Long Island quarterback John Kinder (Lawrence High, Syracuse University) after a botched snap that caused Kinder to scramble and flail a sidearm pass into thin air late in the fourth quarter to settle the game.
Riverhead's Malcolm Cater was named the Long Island Player of the Game. Normally an outside linebacker, Cater, who is headed to Syracuse, was slotted as an end for Long Island in this game. He finished with 6.5 tackles.
The Stony Brook-bound Lawrence had a similar reaction after playing in the New York State High School Football Classic in early June. He played linebacker instead of his more comfortable running back position, which he hopes to play in college.
"It was fun to be in this game, a great experience," he said. "Playing in the upstate game and playing in this game was a big difference."
"This was a great experience for both our guys," added Falco. "The Long Island team played hard. Although the score didn't turn out the way we wanted it, it was a very positive experience. Hopefully they take it with them as they leave Sachem and move onto different and better things."