Newfield wide receiver, cornerback Elijah Riley (8) leaves the MacArthur...

Newfield wide receiver, cornerback Elijah Riley (8) leaves the MacArthur defense behind on a long run to the right side during the first half of the Long Island Football Championships at Hofstra University on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

One of the final images of Friday's Long Island Class II championship game between Newfield and MacArthur left a lasting impression.

Newfield halfback Elijah Riley punctuated the wildly entertaining contest with a classic touch of sportsmanship by stopping short of a sure touchdown -- his fourth of the game -- and taking a knee at the 6-yard line in the final minute. His gesture was not lost on anyone on either sideline.

MacArthur quarterback Jimmy Kelleher had just combined with Jared Wolfe for their second touchdown pass of the game, bringing the Generals within 41-33 with 1:03 left in the fourth quarter.

With Hofstra's Shuart Stadium in a frenzied state, MacArthur, which had no timeouts remaining, lined up for an onside kick. The Generals already had recovered two onside kicks in the third quarter and turned them into touchdowns as they cut a 27-7 deficit to 27-26.

This one, however, would be different.

Riley, on the left side of the front line of the receiving team, stunned the crowd of more than 4,500 when he fielded the line-drive onside kick on one hop at the Newfield 49-yard line, split two defenders and was gone. With the Wolverine faithful in full roar, Riley headed for the end zone -- until he stopped running.

Yes, he stopped, with no defender from MacArthur within 15 yards to make a tackle, and knelt at the MacArthur 6 with 53 seconds left.

Newfield's second Long Island Class II title in the past five years already had been secured. Riley could have scored, but there was no need. The smartest play in Newfield football history helped the Wolverines complete a 12-0 season -- their first undefeated season in 57 years -- and also said volumes about what the program stands for.

"I'll tell you, who thinks of that?" Newfield's Jelani Greene said. "Elijah Riley does that. Even when he's doing nothing, he's doing something. He's truly amazing. I had tears in my eyes because I knew he did the right thing and it was over, that we'd won."

Newfield ran out the clock and celebrated its big victory. That win will be a part of the 24 years of LIC lore -- but so will Riley's sportsmanlike act, a truly classic end to an exciting championship game.

"Riley is one of the great ones," MacArthur coach Bob Fehrenbach said. "The kneel-down showed how much respect he had for our team and how aware he was of the situation. It was a very smart play. We had two athletic teams leave it all out there."

"It was an easy touchdown for him, but he chose not to take it, and that's why Elijah Riley is who he is," MacArthur's Kelleher said. "He understands all of it. I have total respect for him as a player and a person. Both teams battled to the last play and never quit. He stamped a great game with respect."

Riley already had stamped the game with his all-around athletic prowess. He made hard tackles in coverage, contributed a crushing block to free Denzel Williams on his 62-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown, and added a signature 30-yard scoring run in which a neat cutback move helped him find the end zone. He finished with 149 yards rushing on 18 carries.

MacArthur's furious 26-point second half set the stage for the final kickoff -- and ultimately the unforgettable return.

As his teammates accepted hugs and handshakes at midfield during the postgame celebration, Newfield captain Riley embraced his best friend, quarterback Ryan Klemm, and shared a moment.

"Riley is the most humble kid," Newfield coach Joe Piccininni said. "He does everything right. He's a good soul and truly a leader by example. He's why we're here."


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