The Malverne crowd roared as Penn State football commit Josiah Brown ran for a 2-yard touchdown early in the first quarter of the Mules’ 21-14 homecoming loss to Cold Spring Harbor on Friday night.
And the excitement from the crowd grew immensely once a helicopter shining a spotlight on the field flew overhead.
Penn State football coach James Franklin flew from Pennsylvania to Long Island to see Brown dominate in his senior season with his hometown team.
But as Franklin made his way to the Malverne sideline at the start of the second quarter, he witnessed a gut-wrenching play unfold that left the top-ranked recruit in the state limping off the field.
Brown fumbled the ball and recovered it quickly as the Cold Spring Harbor defense piled on top of him. He was taken to the sideline with a suspected knee injury with no possibility of returning to play in the remainder of the game. He returned after halftime with crutches.
As of late Friday night, there was no update available on his injury.
Because of NCAA recruiting regulations, Franklin and Brown did not interact with one another and Franklin did not comment publicly.
Malverne football coach Kito Lockwood told Brown of the surprise visit an hour before the game.
“It’s more about the teammates than me,” Brown said before the game. “Here at Malverne, we don’t really get opportunities like this, so it put a smile on their face and they’re pumped to play.”
“He’s a high-character kid,” Malverne athletic director Michael Pelin said. “I’m not surprised they wanted to do this for him.”
Brown is no stranger to helicopter visits from college coaches. In January, Georgia football coach Kirby Smart landed on the Holy Trinity gridiron for a surprise visit.
“This one is a different type of feeling,” Brown said. “Knowing that I grew up here and these are the people I love, this means a lot to me.”
Brown, who announced his commitment to Penn State in June, said the program has always been a top choice.
“The history, the academics and the excitement of the fans behind the team,’’ he said. “ . . . I just can’t wait to play in front of 100,000.”