An era came to an end in a stunning way Friday night at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium. But fate did not put the ball in the hands of Lawrence's all-time greatest playmaker, Jordan Fredericks.
Instead, it was in the huge mitts of another Lawrence player, defensive lineman Melik Mavruk. He ran toward the south end zone with the biggest prize of his life -- a fumbled football -- with just over a minute to play, the game in the balance and the capacity crowd in a frenzy.
There was Mavruk, his team trailing by one point, running toward destiny, living out every boy's dream of scoring the winning touchdown to capture the title.
Mavruk's 82-yard touchdown rumble, complete with a three-man escort, was one for the ages.
But without Fredericks, there would have been no dramatic ending. Without Fredericks, the Lawrence football team wouldn't have been in position to win the school's fifth Long Island crown and third in a row in Class III.
With Fredericks, Lawrence is the third program to win a Long Island championship three years in a row. The Golden Tornadoes are the only Long Island team to win the title in three classifications.
There is a winning culture at Lawrence that is directly attributed to its athletes. And we saw the end of Fredericks' spectacular high school career in which he covered more than 7,500 all-purpose yards and found the end zone a Nassau-record 98 times.
When Sayville, one of Long Island's truly great football programs, threatened to run back to Suffolk's south shore with another Long Island title, it was Fredericks who kept the Golden Tornadoes within striking distance.
"When he's on the field, we're always in the game," Lawrence coach Joe Martillotti said. "He's that guy. He's the one that can turn a ho-hum inside run into a spectacular touchdown run for 80 yards -- at any time."
So where was Fredericks during Mavruk's run to glory? He was where he was supposed to be, in the Lawrence secondary, trying to lock down Sayville's elite receiver, Chris Rupp.
Fredericks' stamp on this epic title game came during a series of four touchdowns that spanned 68 seconds of the third quarter.
Sayville forged a 28-20 lead on sophomore quarterback Jack Coan's 14-yard touchdown run. On the next play from scrimmage, Fredericks ripped off a 65-yard scoring run to make it 28-27.
On the play, the Golden Tornadoes pulled the right tackle and guard and gave the look of a run around the left end. But it was a quarterback counter-read and Lawrence quarterback Sean Moran wisely gave the ball to Fredericks, who got to the edge, won the footrace around right end and went untouched to the end zone.
Sayville answered two plays later when halfback Matt Selts scored on a 3-yard run for a 35-27 lead. But every time Sayville scored, Lawrence countered with something in Fredericks' gift bag. This time the quarterback counter-read sent Fredericks around left end for a 57-yard touchdown run to get the Golden Tornadoes within a point at 35-34.
And that's the way the score remained until Mavruk's heroics.
"We wanted him in space," Martillotti said. "And in open space, Jordan is a defensive coordinator's nightmare."
For the record, Mavruk will be remembered for scoring the winning touchdown. But Fredericks, who ran for 227 yards and four touchdowns and passed for another TD, etched his name in Lawrence football lore.
When Coan's final pass fell incomplete in the end zone and the clock read 0:00, Fredericks took off his helmet, looked up at the scoreboard in the south end zone, nodded his head and screamed.
It was the end of a high school career in which he started as a wide-eyed, extremely talented freshman and morphed into a mature senior who put the team on his back on the biggest of stages.
Lawrence will miss him.