PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. (CBS 2) — For the first time since their teammate, Danroy “DJ” Henry, was killed by police, the Pace University football team put on their uniforms and took the field.
Lead by the melancholy music of a bag piper, the Pace University Setters took the field arm-in-arm before an emotional game, reports CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez.
“At the moment, taking the field without him, it hurt,” teammate Eric Ortega said.
Saturday’s was the team’s first game since Henry was gunned down by police two weeks ago. Players donned Henry’s number 12 on their helmets and wristbands, while fans and friends wore his picture close to their hearts.
“It’s sad that he’s gone, but he’s remembered in a good light, and we all love him,” student Elizabeth Ortiz said.
Before kickoff, the crowd paid their respects by observing a moment of silence.
“I think the most important part of today was playing our hearts out and just really, truly saying, ‘we’re going to play for DJ,’ and actually doing it,” teammate Jonfrey Sanchez said.
“Today was an opportunity for our team to go out on the field and play their hearts out for their friend,” Pace head coach Chris Dapolito said.
Henry was on the roster as a starter for the game against New Haven. Pace played one player short for their first defensive play, leaving Henry’s cornerback spot unmanned.
“He was out there with us,” teammate David Lopez said. “I felt it; everybody knew it. He was there.”
Pace struggled early, but fought hard and never quit.
Their first touchdown was an impressive 95-yard return by Jason Washington, who pointed straight to the sky, to his inspiration, in the end zone.
“It’s so hard to explain – it’s the emotions and everything going through my mind,” Washington said. “I was just so happy I could do that for him.”
It was a tough defeat on the field for Pace, as they eventually lost 58-19, but the team played with heart.
Henry’s teammates say they’ll dedicate their last three games of their season to DJ.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)