Israel Football League: Pioneers Shut Out Underdogs; Tight Wins For Silverbacks and Lions

It was an exciting weekend in the Kraft Family Israel Football League! On Thursday night, the Jerusalem ‘Big Blue’ Lions held off the Ramat HaSharon ‘Mike’s Place’ Hammers 38-32. On Friday morning, the Tel Aviv ‘Hotel Gilgal’ Pioneers blew out the visiting Haifa ‘Nemo’s’ Underdogs in what was originally expected to be a close contest. On Saturday night, we saw four lead changes in the fourth quarter, including two in the last two minutes, as the Mazkeret Batya ‘Pointer’ Silverbacks held on to beat the Petah Tikva ‘RoomsNinja’ Troopers 19-18!

Photo credits: Allan Paderson, Rick Blumsack, Yael Shem-Tov, Regina Levin.

Jerusalem ‘Big Blue’ Lions 38 – Ramat HaSharon ‘Mike’s Place’ Hammers 32

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The Lions held off the visiting Hammers as they stayed in the race for a first-round bye.

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Big Blue started the game off with a 61-yard, 4 minute drive to go ahead on a Binyamin Schultz quarterback run, 8-0. The Lions forced a punt thanks to good play by defensive tackle Yoav Prusak, and went ahead 16-0 on another Schultz keeper. Ramat HaSharon ran a trick play with Jonathan Curran throwing a 41-yard completion to his younger brother Tomare, and Hammers quarterback Adi Hakami found the elder Curran in the end-zone two plays later to narrow the deficit to 16-8. Schultz was sacked by Yair Ben Moshe at the end of the first quarter, which led to a turnover-on-downs. The Hammers turned the ball over on downs after a 6-minute drive and the Lions went ahead on a QB keeper by David Abell, 24-8, with 8 seconds to go in the half. The Hammers tried to score with 3 laterals on the last play of the half but center Adam Davis was finally tackles by Yoni Cooper to end the crazy play.

The Hammers came out of the gate with a 29-yard touchdown pass form Hakami to Tomare Curran (24-16) and tied the game at 24 when Benzi Zimmerman strip-sacked Abell and Ido Kamiel took the ball 50 yards to the house. Two plays later the Lions went back ahead with a 42-yard pass from Abell to Aaron Stefansky, 32-24, and with 39 seconds to go in the quarter Abell took in a keeper after an Ori Refaelowitz interception of Hakami, 38-24. Hakami found a streaking Tal Greenblat with a 43-yard touchdown pass as the quarter ended to keep it a one-score game, 38-32. The Lions were forced to punt but the Hammers turned the ball over on downs. The Lions punted again, but Jerome Wojtalik force a Greenblat fumble and Sam Edelmuth recovered for Jerusalem with under 4 minutes to play. Hakami, playing some safety as well, broke up a third-down pass to force a Lions punt, and Ramat HaSharon got the ball back with two minutes to go and needing a touchdown. Two false start penalties had the Hammers going backwards instead of forwards, and Abell picked off Hakami’s pass to Greenblat with 59 seconds to go to ice the game.

Individual performances

Abell went 7/15 passing for 145 yards and a touchdown, rushed 10 times for 69 yards and 2 touchdowns, and caught 2 passes for 63 yards. Schultz went 3/12 for 65 yards, adding 17 yards and 2 scores on the ground. Moshe Epstein caught 4 passes for 77 yards, and Stefansky had 35 on the ground and 44 and a score receiving. Mordy Charnowitz had 6 tackles (half a TFL) and Prusak finished with 4.

Hakami went 11/27 passing for 138 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 INTs. Tomare Curran caught 6 balls for 84 yards and a score and Greenblat caught 3 for 69 and a score. Adam Kima led the Hammers in rushing with 15 yards. Yair Ben Moshe had 7 tackles, including 1.5 TFL and a sack. Ehud Klein also had 7 tackles and Kamiel had 4, 2 TFL, a breakup and a fumble recovery TD.

The Lions get a break before traveling to Haifa in the final week of the season, and the Hammers will regroup ahead of a tough game next week at home against the Pioneers.

Tel Aviv ‘Hotel Gilgal’ Pioneers 46 – Haifa ‘Nemo’s’ Underdogs 0


The IFL world expected to see a tight-fought contest between the two contenders, but Haifa was flat on offense and rookie phenom Yuval Fenta ran all over the defense on his way to 214 rushing yards, good enough for the 5th-highest single-game total in IFL history.

The Pioneers started off the game with a turnover-on-downs, but Daniel Ben-Zvi tipped and intercepted Haifa quarterback Matt Kauffman’s pass. Tel Aviv went 4-and-out, but Haifa turned the ball over on downs. The first points went on the board as Fenta ran one in from 4 yards out, 8-0, and the teams exchanged punts to start the second quarter. Travis Mascitelli picked off a Kauffman pass to set up a short field and another Fenta TD run, 14-0. Haifa missed a 28-yard field goal and Fenta ran in his third of the day with 6 seconds to play in the half, 20-0, and Ndavyah Williams’s long kickoff return fell short of the end-zone.

A Will Shapiro sack of Kauffman helped force a Haifa punt to start the second half, and Fenta ran in a 29-yard touchdown, 28-0. Kauffman was intercepted by Ronny Moscona, which set up a nice catch-and-run touchdown from Pioneers quarterback Steve Markoe to wide receiver Nimrod Pintel, 34-0. Haifa was again forced to punt and Yonatan Shavit came off the bench to run in a score for a 40-0 lead. Kauffman’s 4th-down pass was broken up by Mascitelli and Markoe found Amir Gertman for a short scoring pass, 46-0. Ran Breuer came in at quarterback for Haifa but they were forced to punt again and the Pioneers’ young quarterback Omri Mizrahi had his pass intercepted by Amit Benvenisti. Haifa could not take advantage of the turnover, and Tel Aviv knelt the game to an end.

Individual performances

Markoe completed 7/20 passes for 72 yards and 2 scores. Fenta carried the rock 19 times for 214 yards and 4 touchdowns. Pintel caught 2 passes for 27 yards and a score, while tight end Omri Sapir caught 2 passes for 34 yards. Shapiro lead the defense with 10 tackles, 3 TFL, and 1.5 sacks, Jason Leos had 11 tackles and a breakup, and Ben-Zvi had 7 tackles, 3 breakups and a pick.

Kauffman finished 9/22 for 89 yards and 3 picks. Ndavyah Williams had 11 carries for 21 yards. Amit Kolton caught 2 passes for 32 yards and Nimrod Smith had 4 catches for 18. Mica Allon lead the defense with 15 tackles, Guy Halberthal had 7, and Harrison Duke-Fearnley had 6 and a breakup.

Haifa will host the Silverbacks next Friday and the the Pioneers will play in Ramat HaSharon against the Hammers next Saturday night.

Mazkeret Batya ‘Pointer’ Silverbacks 19 – Petah Tikva ‘RoomsNinja’ Troopers 18

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Four lead changes in the fourth quarter saw the Silverbacks keep their playoff hopes alive with a tight victory over the visiting Troopers.

The Troopers’ Chris Davis took the opening kickoff to the house, but an unnecessary block-in-the-back took it away, and the Troopers turned the ball over on downs. The Silverbacks went on a 7-minute drive that ended with a Rotem Oz end-around touchdown run, 7-0. The Troopers came right back with an 8-yard touchdown pass from quarterback David Arshavsky to wide receiver Ala Shalabny, 7-6. To start the second quarter, Victor Serebrianikov strip-sacked Silverbacks quarterback Ido Eisikovits and the ball was recovered by the Troopers’ Ahmed Abu-Gaber, but Davis fumbled on 4th down and recovered the ball short of the 1st-down marker. Mazkeret Batya turned the ball over on downs but forced a Petah Tikva punt with a 3rd-down sack by Evyatar HaCohen. The Silverbacks punted the ball away, but despite a successful fake punt by Dvir Argouan, the Troopers were not able to put more points on the board before the break.

The Silverbacks turned the ball over on downs to start the second half, and the teams exchanged punts before Arshavsky’s pass was intercepted by the Silverbacks’ Vassily Zaks. The Silverbacks could not capitalize and ended up punting, and Davis had a 6-yard TD run with 9:46 to go to put his team ahead 12-7. An 8-play Mazkeret Batya drive ended with a 31-yard touchdown pass from Eisikovits to wide receiver Tim Plotkin, giving them a 13-12 lead with 5:29 to play. The teams exchanged punts before Davis rushed on 3 consecutive plays for 51 total yards, including a 12-yard touchdown run with 1:09 to play for an 18-12 lead. Eisikovits completed 4 passes to Plotkin on the Silverbacks’ ensuing drive which, aided by 3 penalties against the Troopers, set the big QB up for a sneak into the end-zone with 21 seconds to go, 19-18. The Troopers had one last shot, but Arshavsky’s pass bounced off of Alon Hartanu’s fingers and into the hand of Zaks to seal the win.

Individual performances

Eisikovits finished 18/35 passing for 136 yards, a TD and a rushing TD. Plotkin caught 10 passes for 78 yards and a score. Oz caught 3 passes for 27 yards plus a score on the ground. Roni Bar-Ziv lead the defense with 8 tackles and half a sack, and Michael Slabodkin had 5 tackles and 2 breakups. Zaks had 3 tackles, two picks and a sack.

Arshavsky finished 5/18 passing for 42 yards, a TD and 2 picks. Davis had 14 carries for 155 yards and 2 scores but also fumbled the ball 3 times. Shalabny lead the receivers with 3 catches for 22 yards and a score. On defense, Serebrianikov had 7 tackles, 3 TFL, a sack and a forced fumble. Enrique Roth had 7 tackles and 2 breakups and Abu Gaber had 5 tackles, 2 TFL, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

The Troopers have their final game of the season at home against Beersheva next Thursday, and on the following day the Silverbacks will travel to play the Underdogs.