The last time Sayville quarterback Steven Ferreira had played at Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium, he left the field in disappointment following his team’s 42-27 loss to Lynbrook in the 2010 Long Island Conference III title game.
On Tuesday, in the 17th annual United Healthcare Empire Challenge, Ferreira left Hofstra with smiles after helping lead Long Island to a dominating 31-7 win against the top football players from New York City. Ferreira finished 8-11 passing for 132 yards and two touchdown tosses.
Oh, Ferreira led Sayville to a 12-0 season and an LI title last November.
“There is not a better group of kids that I would rather be playing with in this game than these guys,” said Ferreira, who will be playing lacrosse at Stony Brook University next year. “I barely knew any of them coming into the practices and now they are like my best friends.”
While Ferreira shined through the air, Long Island’s main offensive star came through the ground in William Floyd's UMass-bound running back Stacey Beddell, who rushed for 135 yards and three touchdowns. His 92-yard scamper with 6:32 left in the third quarter gave Long Island a 24-0 lead.
In addition to Long Island’s offensive standouts, the defense also came to play, allowing just 215 total yards and forcing three turnovers. An 18-yard touchdown pass from New York City’s Jessel J. Jones to Alvin Cornelius with 3:04 remaining in the game prevented Long Island from executing the first shutout in Empire Challenge history.
Long Island's leading tacklers included Trayvon Toney (Huntington), Evan Kappatos (Syosset) and Tom Diubaldo (Massapequa) with five each.
“We communicated well and worked as a team,” said Wantagh cornerback Brian von Bargen, who recorded an interception for Long Island on the same Shuart Stadium turf he will be calling home next year when he plays lacrosse for Hofstra. “We really stepped up as a unit.”
The 31-7 win before an Empire Challenge-record crowd of 12,418 gives Long Island a 9-6 lead in the all-time series with New York City, which dates back to 1998.
The annual All-Star football game is organized by former NFL star and East Islip native Boomer Esiason. It benefits the Boomer Esiason Foundation in its fight against cystic fibrosis, contributes to the Gunnar H. Esiason Endowed Scholarship Fund at Hofstra, and supports youth and high school football in the New York metropolitan area.
“The success is usually tied to the weather, so when you get a good night like tonight people want to come out,” said Esiason, whose NFL career included stints with the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals. “The fact that we had a record crowd really speaks to the testament of the popularity of this game.”
The Empire Challenge will be re-aired on MSG Varsity at the following dates and times:
Friday, June 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 24 at 9 a.m.
Friday, July 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, August 28 at 7:30 p.m.