Jerusalem ‘Big Blue’ Lions, Petah Tikva Troopers notch big wins, advance to Israel Bowl XI

The defending champion Jerusalem ‘Big Blue’ Lions and the Petah Tikva Troopers will face off in Israel Bowl XI  after the Lions crushed the Tel Aviv Pioneers and Petah Tikva defeated the Judean Rebels in the Kraft Family Israel Football League semifinals.

Jerusalem ‘Big Blue’ Lions 54 – Tel Aviv Pioneers 12

Lions RB Jerome Wojtalik Photo: Daniella Dolgin

The Tel Aviv Pioneers were no match for the defending champion Lions. The Pioneers vaunted rushing attack never got off the ground, without which the offense was rendered virtually impotent.

The Pioneers started the game off with a punt and the Lions immediately took the lead on a pass from David Abell to Nechemia Kaplinsky, 8-0. Tzvi Sklar sacked Omri Mizrachi on 4th down, but on the very next play Barak Rahavi forced and recovered an Ezzy Jaski fumble. Mizrachi promptly threw a beautiful rainbow to Shachar Regev, who took it to the house for a 59-yard score, 8-6. Jerome Wojtalik ran 29 yards for a score, 14-6, and Tel Aviv’s star RB Yuval Fenta could not convert on 4th-and-long. The Lions turned the ball over on downs, Tel Aviv punted, and Abell ran in a score of his own, 22-6. Effi Mishaan picked off a Mizrachi pass, and in a role reversal Jaski threw a TD pass to Abell right before the half, 28-6.

The Lions punted to start the half, but Sklar sacked Mizrachi in the end-zone for a safety, 30-6, and Abell passed to Jaski for a score, 38-6. TA turned it over on downs and Jaski passed to Zachi Silas for another score in the 4th quarter, 46-6. Shlomo Schultz picked off a Mizrachi pass, and Abell ran in another score, 54-6. Fenta barely got in for a TA score as time expired on the Pioneers’ season, 54-12.

Individual performances

Lions

Abell completed 13/20 passes for 145 yards and 2 scores, with 30 yards and 2 scores on the ground and 1-40-1 receiving. Jaski had 55 yards and 2 scores passing and 4-58-1 receiving. Wojtalik had 9-79-1 on the ground and 28 yards receiving. Sklar had 4 tackles with 3.5 TFL and a sack. Mordy Charnowitz added 6 tackles.

Pioneers

Mizrachi completed 4/11 passes for 82 yards, a TD and 2 INTs. Fenta was limited to 20 yards on the ground, while Ariel Hoffman had 53 on the ground as well as a 33-yard pass to Fenta. Guy Halberthal and Or Shalom each had 8 tackles and Amit Militanu added 6.

The Lions move on to defend their title in Israel Bowl XI, Thursday evening in Jerusalem!

Petah Tikva Troopers 46 – Judean Rebels 30

Photo: Dotan Doron

The Petah Tikva Troopers overcame an early deficit to claim their first-ever Israel Bowl appearance.

Game Film by Midabrim Communications

The Rebels turned the ball over on downs to start the game and the Troopers went three-and-out. Yehuda Mendlowitz threw a 54-yard touchdown pass to Aviad Kalifa to put the Rebels up 8-0. Chesky Tomor intercepted Avrami Farkas’s first pass and Mendlowitz threw a touchdown pass to Yoel Hughes on 4th-and-9 from the 12-yard line, 16-0. Over the last few years, the Rebels have been consistently employing the Pulaski Academy strategy of onside kicks and going for it on 4th down, but at this critical juncture the strategy failed miserably.

A 7-yard kick out of bounds gave the Troopers starting position at the Rebels’ 27-yard line and Farkas found Jonathan Curran for a 25-yard TD pass, 16-8. Matis Goldmeier broke up a Mendlowitz 4th-down pass, and Dani Eastman ran in a score, 16-14 in the second quarter. Daniel Yerushalmi lost a fumble for the Rebels, but Jason Hess and Ikey Bodner busted a Troopers’ 4th-down trick play. Enrique Roth picked off a Mendlowitz pass, but Eran Roi returned the favor with a beautiful sideline toe-tap interception off of Farkas. Curran broke up the Rebels last attempt to score before the half, 16-14.

Photo: Dotan Doron

Another awful Judean onside attempt set the Troopers up at the Rebels’ 20, and Eastman ran in the go-ahead score, 20-16, just 45 seconds into the half. The Rebels went for it on 4th-and-long from their own 21-yard line, but Ahmed Abu-Gaber batted away Mendlowitz’s pass, setting up a Farkas-to-Curran TD, 26-16. Eastman picked off a Mendlowitz pass, and two plays later Farkas threw a TD to Jesse Hartman, 32-16. Anthony Morales sniffed out a Rebels’ screen pass and picked it off, adding a big return, but Jason Hess picked off a Farkas pass in the end-zone.

Omree Gottlieb ran in a touchdown for the Rebels, 32-22. Eastman ran in another score to start off the 4th quarter, 40-22. The Rebels turned the ball over on downs after a 9-play drive, and Farkas put the nail in the coffin with a touchdown pass to Curran with under 3 minutes left, 46-22. Mendlowitz ran in a score with 1:29 to go (46-30), the onside kick didn’t work (again), and although the Rebels forced a Troopers punt, they couldn’t score again.

Photo: Dotan Doron

Individual performances

Troopers

Farkas completed 13/30 passes for 202 yards, 4 scores and 3 picks. Curran caught 5-95-3 and Eastman ran for 7-43-3, as well as 9 tackles and a pick. Yoav Romem had 5 and 2 break-ups and David Eastman and Akiva Halfon each added 5 and a sack.

Rebels

Mendlowitz completed 17/44 passes for 232 yards, 2 scores and 3 picks, as well as 58 yards and a score on the ground. Gottlieb had a career day, rushing for 15-83-1, Kalifa caught 3-69-1 and Hughes caught 3-59-1. Gidon Hazony had 6 tackles and Roi had 4, 2 TFL, 2 break-ups and a pick.

The Troopers are on to the Israel Bowl for the first time in league history, though many of their players have been there before, winning titles with the Rebels in Israel Bowls VIII and IX.

Israel Football League
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