MaxPreps.com Staff Report
High school all-star football games are supposed to be defensive-minded, offensively-challenged affairs. Many times they are.
Somebody forgot to tell that to the all-stars from New York City and Long Island Friday night at Hofstra University's Shuart Stadium.
South Shore's David Legree threw a deflected 9-yard scoring pass to Navy recruit Kenny Munson of Tottenvillie with 1:50 left in regulation, giving New York a 35-27 win over Long Island in the 10th annual Empire Challenge before a crowd of 7,892.
The touchdown strike capped a 14-point surge by New York City in the final minutes. Holy Cross running back Kevin Williams had tied the score at 27-27 with a 16-yard touchdown run with 7:57 left.
Munson's touchdown gave New York a 33-27 lead and Fort Hamilton running back Antonio Walcott (175 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns) gave his team breathing room by rushing for the two-point conversion and a 35-27 lead.
Walcott, a 5-foot-5, 155-pound University of Maine recruit, was named MVP for New York.
"It was a fantastic game," Empire Challenge founder and director Boomer Esiason told Newsday.
The Challenge was created in 1996 by Esiason, the former NFL quarterback and East Islip, L.I., product who wanted to provide a top-quality all-star game while raising funds for cystic fibrosis research. Esiason's son, Gunnar, has had the incurable disease since 1993.
The first two games in the series pitted Long Island's Nassau County against Suffolk.
Walcott's best play arguably came in the closing minutes of the game, when he feinted on a pass-block and took a delayed handoff 45 yards up the left sideline to set up the game-winning touchdown pass.
"You give (Walcott) the ball enough times, he's going to make great plays," New York coach Vinny Laino told the Daily News.
Laino should know. The longtime Fort Hamilton coach has won the past two PSAL championships with Walcott in his backfield.
Long Island still leads the series against NYC by 6-4.
"I don't feel bad for Long Island because I've been on the short end of this game a few times," said Laino, who previously coached New York in 2003 and 2006, losing each time by a point.
Will Porter of Freeport, who will play at Nassau Community College, was named the Long Island player of the game after rushing 11 times for 77 yards, and scoring a touchdown with 11:08 left in the game to give his team a 27-21 lead.
But the lead didn't last. New York's final drive was set up by a Long Island turnover with 4:44 remaining. Columbus' Bernard Condejallow recovered the fumble at the New York 26.
"(New York) played great," said Long Island defensive end Ronnie Cameron of Holy Trinity, who recorded six tackles, three sacks and a recovered fumble. "New York City was a power team and we played them toe-to-toe. It came down to the end, just as it should have.''
Long Island had to play without four of the top wide receivers in its talent pool, including Virginia lacrosse recruits Rhamel and Shamel Bratton of Huntington.
Bellport's Edwin Gowins scored a pair of first-half touchdowns for the Island, while Roosevelt's Mike Mayo rushed for 78 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
Huntington quarterback Zach Howell, a Duke lacrosse recruit, hit St. Anthony's Brian Pomper on a 41-yard strike to the NYC 1-yard line; Porter scored two plays later to put Long Island in front 27-21 with 11:08 left in regulation.