Israel: Tel Aviv Pioneers win shootout, Rebels win squeaker

Both Kraft Family Israel Football League weekend games went down to the wire. The Judean Rebels scored on a last-second touchdown and conversion to beat the visiting Haifa ‘Nemo’s’ Underdogs 14-13. On Saturday night in Tel Aviv, the Pioneers and Troopers engaged in another O.K. Corral shootout, with the host Pioneers winning by a final score of 60-52.

Tel Aviv Pioneers 60 – Petah Tikva Troopers 52

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It was another Wild West shoot-out between the Pioneers and Troopers, or perhaps a boxing match with both prizefighters trading haymaker for haymaker.

The Troopers scored on their first drive with a Chris Daves rushing TD, 6-0, and the Pioneers answered with an almost-6-minute drive culminating in an Omri Mizrachi sneak, 8-6. Amit Militanu broke up an Avrami Farkas pass on 4th down, and Yuval Fenta carried in a touchdown at the start of the second quarter, 16-6. 2 plays later Farkas threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Curran, 16-12, and Ariel Hoffman answered with a score of his own, 24-12. Farkas and Curran connected for another score (24-20) and the Pioneers punted after Yair Ben-Moshe forced a Hoffman fumble on 3rd-down (Mizrachi recovered). Farkas and Curran connected for a score yet again with 56 seconds to play in the half, 26-24, and the Pios couldn’t get on the board again before the break.

That didn’t last long, as Fenta scored his second of the night on the first drive of the half, 30-26. Farkas answered with a scoring pass to tight end Ira Yaari with 4 and change to play in the third, 32-30. Ben-Moshe came up with the first turnover of the night, picking off a Mizrachi pass, but Militanu returned the favor, picking off a Farkas pass on the very next play. Fenta scored again on the first play of the 4th quarter, 38-32. Farkas threw another touchdown pass to Curran, his 4th, making it a 38-all ballgame with 8:33 to play. Rookie Shachar Regev returned the ensuing kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown, 46-38, and the Pioneers took full control the game when Nerya Busi recovered a fumble on a botched exchange between Farkas and Ari Levin, immediately followed by a Fenta TD run, 54-38, with 8 to play.

The Troopers went on a 10-play, 5- minute drive, at the end of which Farkas passed to Jesse Hartman for a touchdown, 54-44,with 3 minutes to play. The Pioneers made a lot of folks scratch their respective heads, as they elected to put the ball in the air instead of running out the clock with their star backfield. Mizrachi threw a TD to Regev, making it 60-44 with 1:11 left. Sure enough, Petah Tikva was back knocking on the door, as Farkas and Gideon Reiz connected for a score (60-52).Militanu recovered the onside attempt, and Tel Aviv got the ‘W’, jumping from seventh place to third place in the crowded IFL standings.

Individual performances


Mizrachi completed 7/14 passes for 91 yards, a TD and a pick, adding a rushing TD. Fenta rushed 27 times for 209 yards and 4 touchdowns, and Hoffman added 13-72-1. Regev caught 4-53-1 as well as a return TD. He also had another TD called back on a penalty, one of the Pioneers record 25 accepted penalties for a record 215 penalty yards. Kevin Hushie had 8 tackles and Asaf Katz had 6, 1.5 TFL and half a sack.


Farkas had quite the evening as he set three IFL single-game records in the loss, going 29/53 for 399 yards (all records) and 7 touchdowns (tied for 3rd), along with 1 interception. Curran caught 10-143-4, Reiz 6-121-1 and Hartman 7-96-1. Ben-Moshe had 8 tackles, a forced fumble and an INT, and Aryeh Eastman had 12 tackles.

The Pioneers travel north to play the Underdogs this Friday, and the Troopers have a week off before hosting the league-leading Jerusalem Lions next Thursday.

Judean Rebels 14 – Haifa ‘Nemo’s’ Underdogs 13

The Rebels had a strange morning, scoring only on the first and last drives of the game, but somehow coming away with the win.

Rebel QB Yehuda Mendlowitz passed to Yoel Hughes for a 39-yard score on the first drive of the game (6-0) and Haifa went 3-and-out. Haifa’s Lee Shaked blocked an Ikey Bodner punt, but two straight sacks of Haifa QB Ron Dafni lead to a turnover on downs. Before the end of the quarter, Mendlowitz lost the ball and Haifa’s Shon Kibutzany recovered. Haifa turned the ball over on downs again, but Rudy Rattner forced a Bodner fumble and Shaked recovered for Haifa. Dafni found a wide-open Matan Fourier for a 32-yard pass into the red zone, and Hillel Meran scored from a yard out, 7-6 Haifa. The Rebels turned the ball over on downs, and Harrison Duke-Fearnley hit a 33-yard field goal with under a minute to play in the half, 10-6.

The Underdogs punted to start the half, but the Rebels turned the ball over on downs at the end of a 12-play, 6-minute drive. The ‘Dogs punted again, but Elior Kanfi intercepted a Mendlowitz pass as the third quarter came to an end. Duke-Fearnley hit a 22-yarder, 13-6, and the host Judeans turned the ball over on downs. Uria Loberbom forced a Meran fumble and Bodner recovered for the Rebels. Duke-Fearnley broke up a Mendlowitz 4th-down pass with 5 minutes to go, and Rafi Friedman sacked Dafni on 4th down with 3 minutes left. A bad snap over Mendlowitz’s head was recovered by Haifa’s Nicola Juliano with under 2 minutes remaining, but the Rebels got the ball back after a Haifa punt with 38 seconds left. Mendlowitz threw up a prayer to Yoel Hughes who came down with it on the Haifa 17 with 9 seconds to go. An unsportsmanlike penalty took the Rebels half the distance to the goal, and Mendlowitz found Hughes in the corner of the end-zone as time expired, running in the winning conversion himself, 14-13.

Individual performances


Mendlowitz completed 23/37 passes for 246 yards, 2 scores and an INT. Hughes caught 4-95-2 and Daniel Yerushalmi had 9-92. Avraham Fisgus had 8 tackles and a sack, Evyatar Cohen had 7 and a sack and Jason Hess had 7 and a break-up.


Dafni completed 7/15 passes for 69 yards and Meran had 22 carries for 45 yards and a score. Fourier caught 3-51. Mica Allon racked up 18 tackles, 1.5 TFL, a sack and a forced fumble. Rattner had 10, 2.5 TFL a sack and a forced fumble and Shaked had 4, a TFL, a fumble recovery and a blocked punt.

Both teams play this Friday. The Underdogs host the Pioneers and the Rebels travel to Mazkeret Batya to play the Silverbacks.