Team Hungary routs Team Israel to advance to European Championship Group A

Team Hungary sewed up the top spot in the  IFAF 2020 European Championship Group B qualification round by dominating Israel from the opening whistle going on to an easy 44-19 victory.

With the win, their third straight in Group B, Hungary will advance to Group A, the top echelon of European national teams. The Hungarians have one game left, against winless Turkey while Israel, along with the other teams in the group – Spain, Israel, and Belgium (who have since pulled out) – all have multiple losses.

Hungary made this one look easy, roaring out to a 34-7 lead before easing up in the second half.

This was a game a long time coming. Due to the pandemic, it had been two years since these two teams had seen action so there is no question they were hungry to take the field.

However, it was the home team that started best with Hungarian defensive lineman Mihály Bánfi’s recovering a fumble which led to a field goal from the foot of kicker András Storcz. Not long after, quarterback Márk Bencsics connected with wide receiver Márton Mészáros twice to move Hungary inside the red zone, and then running back Dávid Danku finished the drive, pounding the ball in for the first touchdown of the game to give the host team a 10-0 lead entering the second quarter.

Márk Bencics (#3) threw 3 touchdown passes in the second quarter Photo: László Tenk

Team Israel started the second period with a touchdown. Wide receiver Sahar Adi’s catch advanced the visitors into Hungarian territory and then tight end Gideon Reiz hauled in a touchdown pass to narrow the lead to 10-7. Hungary took a stranglehold on the game after that as head coach Vilmos Grátz’s squad made it look easy. Wide receivers Ádám Elek and Máté Gecser each caught touchdown passes from Bencics and Storcz added another field goal to increase the lead to 27-17. The Hungarian defense did its part, as defensive back Zoltán Golita intercepted Israeli quarterback Aviram Farkas. Elek’s second touchdown reception of the game gave Hungary a 34-7 lead going into the break.

Hungary switched quarterbacks in the second half, with Vasyl Yordan replacing starter Márk Bencsics. Although he had some bright spots, Yordan struggled. Still, the Hungarian defense continued to dominate with as linebacker János Zilai recorded an interception and defensive lineman Mihály Bánfi sacked the Israeli quarterback. Storcz’s third successful field goal of the game extended the lead to 37-7 to end the third quarter.

Team Hungary’s defensive presence throughout the game gave hard times for the Israeli Team offense Photo: László Tenk

Despite the lopsided score, Team Israel kept working and wide receiver Ronnie Hayes scored to narrow the lead to 37-13. However, Zilai picked up his second interception of the game, a pick-six, to put the game away for Hungary. Although Hayes scored his second touchdown of the game for Israel, it was too little too late.

Thus, the Hungarians, with a decisive 44-19 victory, remain unbeaten in Group B with one game left, away against Turkey on November 5. The game has no bearing on the standings though as Hungary has qualified to European Championship Group A.

László Makranczi is a radio reporter, announcer and American Football journalist in Hungary. He lives in Debrecen and works for the Hungarian American Football Federation. Studied at the University of Debrecen, got a master’s degree in American