Many Kraft Family IFL fans expected the two weekend games to be close contests, but neither was close at all. On Thursday night, the Jerusalem Big Blue Lions blew out an injury-depleted Petah Tikva Troopers’ squad, notching their third straight shut-out, 46-0. On Friday, Mazkeret Batya and Beersheva faced off in the IFL’s southern rivalry game, and the Silverbacks registered the franchise’s first-ever blowout win, defeating the Swarm handily, 40-6.
Mazkeret Batya ‘Rose Valley Crossfit’ Silverbacks 40 – Beersheva Black Swarm 6
The Swarm and Silverbacks met on Friday morning, both team looking for the ‘W’ and getting a leg up on the last seeds of the looming IFL playoffs.
The teams exchanged punts to start the game and on 3rd-and-15, ‘Backs’ QB Ido Eisikovits threw a screen pass to RB Liad Versolker who rumbled 65 yards for the first score of the game, 6-0. Beersheva punted, but Mazkeret turned the ball over on downs at the start of the second quarter. Beersheva went 3-and-out and a poor punt gave the hosts great field position, which they took advantage of as Eisikovits threw a TD pass to Rotem Oz, 13-0. The Swarm answered with a TD pass from Matanel Katz to Ronnie Hayes, 13-6. The Silverbacks drove the field, converting a 4th-down with a trick-play pass from Oz to Eisikovits, after which Oz ran in another score, 20-6, with 2:10 left in the half. Beersheva wanted to get something going before the half, but Aviram Johnson forced a Katz fumble, and Shiko Zano recovered for the Silverbacks. Eisikovits threw another TD, this one to Amit Zamir, and the ‘Backs headed into the break holding a comfortable (and unusual) 27-6 lead.
The second half started off the same way the first one ended. Yoni Eliyahu decided for some reason to (1) catch the opening kickoff and (2) run with the ball in his outstretched hand like a smelly garbage bag and (3) try to lateral the ball to Katz. Sure enough, Zano was there to force the fumble, Daniel Cohen was there to recover, and Ohad Samuely was there to run in another Silverback TD, 33-6. Johnson forced another Katz fumble, Amit Ben-Yosef recovered, and Samuely ran in another score, 40-6, with 5 minutes left in the third. The Swarm took a 15-play drive into the 4th quarter but turned the ball over on downs.
The Swarm defense forced a 3-and-out, but Zano intercepted a Katz 4th-down pass. The Silverbacks went 3-and-out again, but Beersheva turned the ball over on downs when rookie QB Alex Bar slid on 4th-down, just short of the marker.
Eisikovits completed 8/14 passes for 128 yards and 3 scores. Samuely rushed 19 times for 122 yards and 2 scores and Versolker caught 1 pass for a 65-yard score as well as 37 yards on 11 carries. Oz added a rushing score and a receiving score. Tomer Hazan lead the defense with 8 tackles, 2 TFL and a sack. Zano had 6, 2 break-ups, a pick, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery, and Johnson added 5 and 2 forced fumbles.
Katz completed 5/18 passes for 39 yards, a score and a pick, adding 12 carries for 92 yards. Hayes was held to 2-20-1. Ehud Klein had 11 tackles, Sandro Kalandadze had 10 and a TFL, and Seena Abass had 9, 4 TFL, a sack and a break-up.
The Silverbacks travel to Tel Aviv on Saturday night to play the Pioneers, and the Swarm have a week off to regroup before a pivotal home-and-away series against the Haifa Underdogs.
Photos: Tom Nudelman and Dvir Mintz
Jerusalem ‘Big Blue’ Lions 46 – Petah Tikva Troopers 0
When the defending champion Lions face a team starting their 4th-string QB, 3nd-string RB and their 4th-best WR as the #1, it’s not going to be pretty.
Gideon Reiz got the start at QB for the Troopers, and his first pass attempt was intercepted by IFL INT leader Binyamin Schultz. David Abell threw a touchdown pass to Ezzy Jaski, 6-0. The Lions got great field position when Troopers’ punter Enrique Roth knelt to pick up a low snap, and was whistled down at the PT 6-yard line. Jerome Wojtalik promptly ran in a score, 12-0. The Troopers turned the ball over on downs, but Abell lost the ball and Aryeh Eastman recovered for Petah Tikva. The Troopers turned the ball over on downs again and Abell found Jaski for another touchdown, 18-0. Jesse Hartman fumbled the ball on a reverse and Tzvi Sklar recovered for the Lions, but the Lions (stupidly) tried the same exact reverse and Zachi Silas fumble the ball away to Roth. The Troopers punted, and Abell/Jaski connected for another score, 26-0, with just over a minute left. The Troopers punted again and the Troopers D held fast before the break.
Wojtalik rushed for a 52-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage of the second half, 34-0. Petah Tikva punted, and Moshe Shear came in at QB and threw a TD pass to Abell, 40-0. The Troopers turned the ball over on downs, but on the Lions’ punt, a Trooper touched the ball first and Sim Fuchs recovered for the Lions. Wojtalik ran in another score, 46-0, the Troopers turned the ball over on downs and after a long pass to Silas, Shear finally knelt out the remaining clock.
Abell completed 7/12 passes for 149 yards and 3 TDs, all TDs to Jaski, who caught 6-137-3. Wojtalik had 7 carries for 60 yards and 3 scores. Leib Sklar was dominant on defense with 9 tackles, 4.5 TFL and 3 sacks. Mordy Charnowitz added 8 tackles and Leor Markose had 5 and a pair of break-ups.
Reiz completed 5/20 passes for 10 yards and an INT, also leading the team with 24 rushing yards. Yoav Romem had 5 tackles and Ahmed Abu-Gaber had 3, 1.5 TFL and a sack.
Both teams have important games this week. The Lions will face off on Thursday with the Rebels in a Jerusalem derby at the top of the standings. The Troopers head north to play Haifa in a middle-of-the-pack match-up.