L.I. cruises in Empire Challenge



Long Island scored on its fourth offensive snap and never looked back on the way to defeating New York City, 40-8, on a rainy Tuesday night at Hofstra in as dominant a performance as there’s been in the 18-year history of the UnitedHealthcare Empire Challenge football game.

Uniondale’s William Stanback starred with 138 yards rushing on 12 carries and set the Empire Challenge record with four total touchdowns, with the first coming on a hook-and-ladder gadget play in the second quarter, as Long Island won for a third consecutive year and for the fourth time in five years. Quarterbacks A.J. Otranto (William Floyd) and Brian McKean (Connetquot) had first-quarter touchdown runs, and Long Island’s defense forced six turnovers including a record four interceptions.

“We had so many incredible athletes,” said Joe Martillotti, who served as Long Island’s head coach after guiding Lawrence to undefeated 2012 campaign. “One of the toughest things is figuring out where every kid is going to fit, because most of them are great two-way players. The coaching staff did a tremendous job, and the kids played a super game.”

Established in 1996, the Empire Challenge showcases some of the best football talent in the state and more importantly benefits the Boomer Esiason Foundation for cystic fibrosis, the Gunnar H. Esiason Scholarship Fund at Hofstra, and local youth sports programs. “This past year has brought many hardships to our area, but it is events like this that bring us all together,” Boomer Esiason said.

The tone was set early when New York City, which was out-gained 343-162, botched the snap of a punt attempt at its own 19-yard line and allowed Long Island’s offense to begin its opening series inside the red zone. A powerful run by Lawrence’s Tyler Fredericks brought the ball inside the 10, and Otranto scored two plays later from nine yards out to make it 6-0 just 3:53 into the game.

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