Despite all the speed and firepower on both the Long Island and New York City squads, defense ruled in the 15th Outback Steakhouse Empire Challenge Tuesday night at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.

Fittingly, it was a defensive play late in the fourth quarter that allowed the City team to rally for a stunning victory. After JeVahn Cruz’s interception at the Long Island 8 ended a City drive, Devante Wheeler returned the favor but inflicted much more damage. Wheeler’s interception of John Kinder’s desperation pass from the end zone set up the winning score as the City team triumphed, 15-10.

Kinder could have taken a safety, which would have given the City an 11-10 lead, but he didn’t want to take a sack or just throw it away for an incompletion that would have brought up a third-and-9. Long Island no longer had the option to punt because of the Boomer game’s two-punt rule. L.I. had already punted twice in the second half.

Before those interceptions, special teams provided most of the fireworks. Nick Fiorito kicked a 44-yard field goal for the City. Jesse Signa answered for Long Island with a 30-yard field goal for a 10-9 lead that was set up by Mike Gallo’s 56-yard kickoff return.

Long Island managed only 12 first downs, to 9 for the City. The total offense numbers were underwhelming, as the Island barely outgained the City, 169-151. Those totals would be modest for a first half for many high school teams. The City had a 9-minute advantage in time of possession.

BOXSCORE

New York City     6  0  3  6 -- 15
Long Island        0   7 3  0 -- 10

NYC: Jordan Rodriguez 7 run (kick blocked)
LI: Davon Lawrence 3 run (Jesse Signa kick)
NYC: Nick Fiorito 44 field goal
LI: Signa 30 field goal
NYC: Rodriguez 1 run (pass failed)

RUSHING

NYC: Jordan Rodriguez 10 carries for 37 yards; Frank Laino 4 for 12; Doug Butler 4 for 10; Lyle McCombs 9 for 7.
LI: Anthony Brunetti 8 for 39; Davon Lawrence 5 for 23; Kenny Barnett 8 for 22; Kevin Allen 5 for 19; John Kinder 12 for 17.

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PASSING

NYC: Jordan Rodriguez 3-for-6, 44 yards; Jon Derbyshire 2-for-5, 36 yards.
LI: John Kinder 4-for-15, 45 yards; Gavin Kretz 1-for-2, 11 yards.

RECEIVING

NYC: Elijah Bratcher 2 for 29; Gallo Henson 2 for 10; Marcus Spann 1 for 38; Bryant McAdoo 1 for 2.
LI: Davon Lawrence 1 for 17; Ashanti Foster-Felder 1 for 17; Tom DeNapoli 1 for 11; Mike Gallo 1 for 11; Chris Jean-Pierre 1 for 0.

DEFENSIVE STATISTICS

NYC: Jason Bromley 7 solo tackles, 2 sacks; Chris Brathwaite 3 solo tackles, 2 assists; Tykeith Fantroy 3 solo tackles 1 assist; Nmesoma Okafor 3 solo tackles, 1 assist, 1 sack.

LI: Malcolm Cater 5 solo tackles, 3 assists; Rob Tierney-Walsh 3 solo tackles, 2 assists, ½ sack; Jawara Dudley 3 solo tackles, 1 assist; Damarr Aultman 3 solo tackles, 1 assist; Joe Kirchner 3 solo tackles, Andrew Hodge 2 solo tackles, 2 assists.