Israel: Judean Rebels down Haifa Underdogs to clinch 5th playoff spot

In the lone game in the Israel Football League this week, the Judean Rebels handily defeated the Haifa ‘Nemo’s’ Underdogs, clinching the 5th seed in the upcoming Kraft Family IFL Playoffs. 

Judean Rebels 52 – Haifa ‘Nemo’s’ Underdogs 16

Jeremiah Jelski punched in a 3-yard touchdown to start the game off for the visiting Judeans (6-0) and after a Haifa turnover-on-downs, the Rebels went ahead 12-0 on a 37-yard touchdown pass from Jeff Balaban to TE Zev Katz. The Rebels recovered an onside kick and Chaim Aaron threw a 44-yard TD pass to Katz, 18-0. Haifa turned the ball over on downs, and Balaban threw a TD pass to David Salem on the first play of the second quarter, 24-0. Haifa QB Matt Kauffman threw a touchdown pass to TE Amitai Chubinski, putting the Underdogs on the board at 24-7. Aaron threw a 14-yard TD pass to Yehuda Mendlowitz (32-7) and Haifa turned the ball over on downs. Haifa’s Tomer Freidler intercepted a Balaban pass, and Ilya Averbuch hit a 37-yard field goal, 32-10. Avi Landesman ran in another Rebel score before the half, 40-10.

The teams exchanged punts to start the second half, after which Chesky Tomor intercepted a Kauffman pass. The Rebels turned the ball over on downs, but Aaron intercepted another Kauffman pass before the end of the third quarter. Aaron’s pass was intercepted by Haifa’s Roi Meir, and the hosts capitalized on the turnover with a 5-yard Kauffman TD run, 40-16. Balaban threw a 20-yard TD pass to Aaron (46-16), and Mendlowitz recovered the ensuing (not onside) kickoff on the Haifa 1-yard line, setting up another Landesman TD run, 52-16. Haifa punted, and the defense prevented the Rebels from scoring again.

Individual performances


Aaron completed 10/16 passes for 176 yards, 3 scores and a pick, and Balaban threw for 2 scores and a pick. Landesman rushed 19 times for 91 yards and 2 scores, and Katz caught 4 passes for 131 yards and 2 scores. Avraham Fisgus lead the defense with 9 tackles and a TFL, Aaron had 8, a pick and a blocked XP, and Cole Kiser had 7 tackles, 4 TFL and a sack.


Kauffman completed 8/26 passes for 100 yards, a score and 2 picks, adding a score on the ground. Chubinski caught 3-52-1 and Hillel Meran had 26 yards on the ground. Mica Allon lead the defense with 14 tackles and a breakup, and Rudy Rattner had 8 and 1.5 TFL.

The Rebels clinched the 5th seed with the win, setting up a quarterfinal date with the Hammers in Ramat HaSharon. Before then, however, the two teams face off this week in the regular season finale. The Underdogs are dependent on a point-differential tie-breaker to make the playoffs.