Tel Aviv Pioneers Hand Jerusalem Lions First Loss In Kraft Family Israel Football League

The Kraft Family Israel Football League had a full slate of games this past weekend, and it was a great one. Two games went down to the wire, a brand-new single-game record was just broken, as was the single-season rushing record.

Tel Aviv Pioneers 22 – Jerusalem ‘Big Blue’ Lions 14

Photo: Daniella Dolgin

Steve Markoe took in a keeper to put Tel Aviv on top after the first drive, 6-0. The Lions punted but DE Tzvi Sklar forced a Bar Rudich fumble, giving the ball back to Jerusalem. Big Blue QB David Abell ran in a 32-yard touchdown, giving the visitors an 8-6 lead. The teams exchanged punts, Tel Aviv punted again and the Lions turned the ball over on downs. Tel Aviv punted again, and the Tel Aviv defense held Jerusalem without another score before the break.

The Lions turned the ball over on downs to start the second half, but the Pioneers punted. Kevin Hushie intercepted an Abell pass in the end-zone, but Tel Aviv punted again on the first play of the 4th quarter. The Lions turned the ball over on downs and Markoe found Cameron Simmonds for the go-ahead touchdown, 14-8, with 5:36 to play. Asaf Katz strip-sacked Abell, giving the ball back to Tel Aviv, and the Pioneers seemed to put the nail in the coffin with a 42-yard TD pass from Markoe to Nimrod Pintel, 22-8 with 1:54 to play. The Lions wouldn’t go away so easily, and after a long keeper Abell found Eli Gurwitz in the end-zone so narrow the gap to 22-14. The Pioneers recovered the ensuing onside attempt, handing the Lions their first loss of the season.

Photo: Daniella Dolgin

Individual Performances

Tel Aviv

Markoe completed 11/21 passes for 108 yards, 2 scores, and a rushing score. Yuval Fenta carried the rock 21 times for 132 yards breaking the single-season record for rushing yards, and Simmonds caught 7 passes for 61 yards and a score. Hushie lead the defense with 8 tackles, 3 breakups and a pick, while Katz had 4 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, a breakup and a forced fumble.


Abell completed 14/33 passes for 173 yards, a score and a pick, adding 117 yards and a score on the ground. Gurwitz caught 2-26-1. Aryeh-Leib Sklar registered 15 tackles, Binyamin Schultz had 8 and a break-up, and Tzvi Sklar added 7, a TFL and a forced fumble.

The Pioneers are locked into the #3 seed and wrap up the regular season next week against the Underdogs. The Lions can clinch the #1 seed with a victory next week against the Silverbacks.

Ramat HaSharon Hammers 30 – Beersheva Black Swarm 22

Hammers’ quarterback Jonathan Curran started the game off with a short touchdown run (8-0) and Beersheva went 3-and-out. Beersheva’s Tomare Curran intercepted his big brother’s pass at the goal-line, but Amit Twig intercepted Matanel Katz’s pass at the start of the second quarter. J. Curran threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Elya Hershkovitz (14-0) and the Swarm went 3-and-out again. The Swarm defense put up a goal-line stand, Twig picked off Katz again, and T. Curran intercepted another J. Curran pass right before the half.

Beersheva punted to start the second half and J. Curran ran in another Hammers score, 22-0. Beersheva finally got on the board with a TD pass from Katz to T. Curran, making the score 22-6 with 2:25 to play in the third quarter. Yaron Aloni intercepted another Curran pass to start the 4th quarter, and Katz threw a 60-yard TD pass to Ronen Knobel to make the score 22-14. J. Curran ran in another score to give the Hammers a 2-score lead (30-14) with 8 minutes to play. Beersheva went on a long drive that ended with a Katz TD pass to Tal Biton, making the score 30-22 with 1:33 to play, but Ramat HaSharon recovered the attempted onside kick and knelt out the clock, preserving the victory, and clinching the 4th seed.

Individual Performances


Curran completed 11/21 passes for 168 yards, a score and 3 picks, adding 52 yards and 3 scores on the ground. Adam Kima rushed for 82 yards and Ido Eisikovits caught 5 passes for 61 yards. Twig lead the defense with 6 tackles and 2 picks, and Yair Ben-Moshe added 4 tackles and half a sack.

Black Swarm

Katz completed 8/17 passes for 110 yards, 3 scores and 2 picks, adding 72 yards on the ground. Tomare Curran caught 3 passes for 34 yards and a score. Sandro Kalandadze racked up 11 tackles with 2 TFL and a sack, Edi Peru added 7 and a TFL, and Curran had 6 tackles and 2 picks.

Both teams have a week off before finishing their season. The Hammers will host the Rebels and the Swarm travel to Petah Tikva to play the Troopers.

Judean Rebels 26 – Mazkeret Batya ‘Pointer’ Silverbacks 6

Jeff Balaban threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Chaim Aaron on the first offensive play of the game (8-0) and Tim Plotkin missed a 33-yard field goal attempt for Mazkeret Batya. Aaron ran in a 9-yard score (14-0) and the ‘Backs Ohad Samuely ran in a TD with 2:15 to go in the first (14-6). The Rebels turned the ball over on downs to start the second quarter, but the Silverbacks went 3-and-out. Balaban threw a 13-yard TD to Zevi Katz (20-6) and Mazkeret Batya turned the ball over on downs. The Rebels milked the clock and Avi Landesman ran in another TD right before the half, 26-6, with rookie Eran Roi picking off a Plotkin pass as time expired.

Mazkeret turned the ball over on downs and the Rebels were forced to punt. Plotkin missed a 53-yard (yes, 53-yard) field goal, and the Rebels turned the ball over on downs at the start of the final quarter. The ‘Backs turned the ball over on downs, the Rebels punted, and the Silverbacks had one last shot to score but fell short.

Individual Performances


Balaban completed 12/23 passes for 131 yards and 2 scores and Landesman rushed for 76 yards and a score. Aaron had 2-38-1 receiving and added a rushing score, as well as leading the defense with 10 tackles and a breakup. Cole Kiser had 9 tackles (3 TFL and a sack) and Roi added 7 and a pick.


Samuely rushed 28 times for 101 yards and a score, and Gal Dagan added 30 yards on the ground. Plotkin completed 2/8 passes for 16 yards and a pick. Ofri Launer and Michael Slabodkin lead the defense with 9 and 7 tackles, respectively.

The Rebels play the Haifa Underdogs this week in a match-up for the 5th seed, with the Rebels needing to win by more than 7 points to clinch the tie-breaker. Any other result and Haifa gets the nod. The Silverbacks will play their last game of the season next week against the top-seeded Lions.

Petah Tikva ‘Mike’s Place’ Troopers 55 – Haifa ‘Nemo’s’ Underdogs 14

Petah Tikva got off to a quick start with a 22-yard TD pass from Avrami Farkas to Gideon Reiz, 6-0. Enrique Roth blocked a field goal attempt by Haifa kicker Ilya Averbuch, and the teams exchanged punts before a 50-yard touchdown pass from Farkas to Danny Mikhailov, 12-0. Haifa punted and Farkas found Aaron Karp for a 56-yard catch-and-run TD, 20-0. Haifa punted the ball away to start the second quarter, and Farkas found Mikhailov for a 32-yard score, 26-0. Avi Schamroth intercepted a Matt Kauffman pass, setting up another TD catch by Mikhailov, this one thrown by Dani Eastman, 34-0. Haifa drove the field, finishing off with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Kauffman to TE Amitai Chubinski, 34-7. Farkas passes to Mikhailov for a 44-yard score (40-7) and Haifa turned the ball over on downs before the half.

Kauffman passed to Matan Fourier for a Haifa TD to start the half, 40-14, and in reply Farkas passed to Eastman for a Petah Tikva TD, 47-14. Enrique Roth intercepted a Kauffman pass, but Erez Damoch’s punt was blocked by Haifa’s Rudy Rattner. Haifa punted, but Rephael Blum recovered a Chris Davis fumble, giving Haifa the ball at the start of the 4th quarter. Haifa turned the ball over on downs, before Farkas and Mikhailov connected for yet another long TD pass with 5 minutes to go, 55-14. Haifa turned the ball over on downs before the Troopers knelt out the clock.

Individual Performances


Farkas completed 14/21 passes for a ridiculous 372 yards (2nd-most all-time) and 7 touchdown passes (tied for 3rd). Mikhailov caught 6 passes for a record 221 yards and 5 scores (tied for 2nd). Eastman rushed for 81 yards, as well as passing for a TD and catching a TD. Luke Hutkin racked up 12 tackles, including 6 TFL and 2.5 sacks.Ahmed Abu Gaber added 5 tackles and 3 TFL.


Kauffman completed 18/40 passes for 238 yards, 2 scores and 2 picks. Chubinski caught 8-106-1 and Fourier caught 3-70-1. Hillel Meran added 44 yards on the ground. Mica Allon had 10 tackles and Rattner added 7 tackles, 4 TFL, a sack, a forced fumble and a blocked punt.

The Troopers clinched the #2 seed with the win, and will finish the season against Beersheva next week. Haifa can clinch the #5 seed with a win over the Rebels this week (or a loss by less than 7 points).