The Kraft Family Israel Football League’s penultimate week had it’s share of excitement, setting up an expected thrilling finish to the regular season this coming weekend. On Thursday night, the Petah Tikva ‘RoomsNinja’ Troopers notched their maiden win of the season, 28-3 over the visiting Beersheva ‘Travel Leaders’ Black Swarm. On Friday morning, the Haifa ‘Nemo’s’ Underdogs beat the Mazkeret Batya ‘Pointer’ Silverbacks 34-7, and on Saturday night the Tel Aviv ‘Hotel Gilgal’ Pioneers narrowly beat the Ramat HaSharon ‘Mike’s Place’ Hammers 18-16.
Petah Tikva ‘RoomsNinja’ Troopers 28 – Beersheva ‘Travel Leaders’ Black Swarm 3
The host Troopers got their first win of the ’15-’16 season, albeit in their last game of said season. Chris Davis had a monster game to lead his squad to victory.
Petah Tikva got the ball first, but quarterback David Arshavsky fumbled the ball on fourth down in Beersheva territory. Beersheva punted the ball away, and Arshavsky found Erez Maman for a 29-yard catch-and-run touchdown to start the second quarter, 8-0. The Swarm got a 40-yard kickoff return from rookie Matanel Katz, but turned the ball over on downs. The Troopers drove the field and Maman ran in another score from 7 yards out, 16-0. The teams exchanged punts and then Beersheva’s Tomer Cohen hit a 34-yard field goal with 42 seconds to go in the half, 16-3. Arshavsky found Maman on the last play of the half, but he was tackled by Katz to end the half.
The Black Swarm started the second half off with a punt, and Davis got the home team going with a 58-yard touchdown run, 22-3. The Swarm punted again, but Maman lost the ball on 4th down, recovering it short of the first-down marker. Dvir Argouan intercepted a pass by Beersheva quarterback Itay Reuven to start the fourth quarter. Davis ran in a 39-yarder to put the hosts up 28-3 and Reuven was then intercepted by Troopers linebacker Elyasaf Benattia.
The Troopers punted, and Reuven fumbled the ball on 4th down, which was recovered by Davis. A high snap on a Troopers punt attempt gave the Swarm the ball at the Petah Tikva 3-yard line, but the Swarm only went backwards, as the game ended on an Alex Brosh sack of Reuven.
Davis finished the game with 217 yards and 2 scores on 13 carries. Arshavsky went 8/18 for 103 yards and a score. Maman caught 2 passes for 49 yards and a score, adding 34 yards and a score on the ground. Avraham Remer lead the defense with 9 tackles, Argouan had 6 tackles, a pick and a breakup, and Benattia had 4 tackles, including 3 for loss and 2 sacks, plus a pick and a breakup.
Reuven completed 14/32 passes for 121 yards and 2 picks. Katz caught 7 passes for 79 yards. Edi Peru and Sandro Kalandadze each had 8 tackles, 1.5 TFL and a sack for the Swarm defense and Nadav Eliyahu added 7 tackles.
The Black Swarm clinched a playoff berth on Friday with the Silverbacks’ loss to Haifa. They will get the 5th seed if the Silverbacks beat the Hammers, and the 6th seed if the Hammers beat the Silverbacks.
Haifa ‘Nemo’s’ Underdogs 34 – Mazkeret Batya ‘Pointer’ Silverbacks 7
Haifa stayed in the race for the top seed with a victory over the visiting Silverbacks.
The Silverbacks drove the field and attempted a 49-yard field goal, which Haifa’s Nimrod Smith returned for 37 yards. Haifa quarterback Matt Kauffman connected with wide receiver Matan Fourier for a 9-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead. The teams exchanged punts, and after another Silverbacks punt, Kauffman found Fourier for a 34-yard score, 13-0. Mazkeret Batya embarked on a 14-play, 60-yard, 7-minute drive which ended in a Tim Plotkin dive for the end-zone, 13-7. The ‘Backs Lior Agami picked off Kauffman’s pass, but the guests punted the ball away right before halftime.
Haifa came out of the break with a 16-yard TD pass to tight end Amit Kolton, 20-7. Plotkin’s pass was intercepted by Yoni Janis, but Ilya Averbuch missed a 37-yard field goal attempt. The Silverbacks punted, and Kauffman found tight end Amitai Chubinski for a 12-yard score, 27-7. The teams exchanged punts before Haifa cornerback Amit Benvenisti picked off a Plotkin pass and Kauffman immediately hit Kolton over the middle for a 36-yard score, 34-7. The Silverbacks punted the ball away, which allowed the Underdogs to eventually kneel out the clock.
Kauffman completed 17/27 passes for 234 yards, 5 touchdowns and a pick. Kolton caught 3-79-2, Fourier caught 2-43-2, and Chubinski caught 3-49-1. Ndavyah Williams had 37 yards on 7 carries. Mica Allon lead the defense with 12 tackles, and Averbuch had 8 and 2 TFL. Rephael Blum added 7 tackles.
Plotkin finished 4/18 for 32 yards and 3 picks, plus a rushing touchdown. Ohad Samuely rushed 25 times for 92 yards and Maxim Levin caught 3 passes for 29 yards. Roni Bar-Ziv lead the defense with 9 tackles and Agami added 6, a pick and a breakup.
The Underdogs have clinched a home game, and the main question is in which round. If they beat the Lions on Friday, they clinch a first-round bye and a home semi-final game. If in addition the Rebels beat the Pioneers, Haifa will get the top seed.
The Silverbacks will make the playoffs as the 6th seed if they somehow beat the Hammers. If they lose, they are out.
Tel Aviv ‘Hotel Gilgal’ Pioneers 18 – Ramat HaSharon ‘Mike’s Place’ Hammers 16
The Pioneers came out victorious in a close contest between the two local rivals.
Tel Aviv started off by going for it on 4th-and-1, but running back Yuval Fenta was stuffed by the Hammers defense. Ramat HaSharon then went for it on 4th-and-2 and were in turn stuffed by the Pios defense. Pioneers quarterback Steve Markoe found wide receiver Nimrod Pintel on a slant route, which the speedy Pintel turned into a 42-yard touchdown, 6-0.
The Hammers punted, but at the end of a long Pioneers drive (and at the start of the second quarter) Markoe’s fourth-down pass was intercepted by Elya Hershkovitz at the 1-yard line. On the next Hammers drive, Pioneers defensive back Daniel Ben-Zvi made a leaping interception at the goal-line to keep the Hammers out of the end-zone, and two long runs by Fenta lead to a long pass from Markoe to Travis Mascitelli and a short touchdown pass to Pintel, 12-0. Avi Rosenblum returned the ensuing kickoff 55 yards, setting up a touchdown pass from quarterback Adi Hakami to wide receiver Nachi Brodt to bring the Hammers to within 4, at 12-8 with just over two minutes to play in the half.
Hershkovitz came up big with his second pick, giving the Hammers the ball in Pioneers territory with 19 seconds to go.Hakami threw up a prayer, which Rosenblum skied to catch with no time on the clock, giving the hosts a 16-12 halftime lead.
Ben-Zvi broke up a 4th-down Hakami pass after a 10-play Hammer drive, and the Pioneers retook the lead on a Markoe quarterback sneak, 18-16. The teams exchanged turnovers-on-downs to take the game into the fourth quarter. The Hammers stalled at midfield on their last possession, and having used up all of their time-outs, were forced to watch the Pioneers kneel a couple times to end the close-fought, exciting game.
Markoe completed 16/30 passes for 228 yards, 2 scores and 2 interceptions, plus a rushing touchdown. Fenta rushed for 65 yards before exiting the game in the second quarter with an injury. Tight end Omri Sapir caught 6 passes for 80 yards, Pintel had 3 catches for 56 yards and 2 scores, and Mascitelli had 5 catches for 71 yards. Jason Leos lead the defensive charge with 14 tackles and a forced fumble, Amit Militanu had 6 tackles, and Ben-Zvi added 5, a pick and a couple of breakups.
Hakami completed 11/21 passes for 133 yards, 2 scores and a pick for the Hammers, who were missing star receiver Jonathan Curran. Nachi Brodt caught 2-54-1, Rosenblum caught 2-35-1, and Tomare Curran caught 6 passes for 37 yards. Tyler Somberg lead the Hammer ground attack with 25 yards. Yair ben-Moshe lead the defense with 6 tackles, Hershkovitz had 5, 2 picks and a breakup, and Ehud Klein and Amit Twig each had 5 tackles and a breakup.
The Pioneers can clinch the top seed with a victory on Saturday night against the Rebels and will be the 3rd seed if they lose. Ramat HaSharon can clinch the 5th seed with a victory over the Silverbacks on Thursday night, while a loss would have them watching the postseason from the stands.