The Kraft Family Israel Football League’s penultimate week had its share of excitement, setting up an expected thrilling finish to the regular season this coming weekend.
On Thursday night, the Petah Tikva Troopers notched their maiden win of the season, 28-3 over the visiting Be’er Sheva Black Swarm. On Friday morning, the Haifa Underdogs beat the Mazkeret Batya Silverbacks 34-7, and on Saturday night the Tel Aviv Pioneers narrowly beat the Ramat HaSharon Hammers 18-16.
The host Troopers got their first win of the ’15-’16 season, albeit in their last game of the season. Chris Davis had a monster game to lead his squad to victory.
Petah Tikva scored first, as quarterback David Arshavsky found Erez Maman for a 29-yard catch-and-run touchdown to start the second quarter, 8-0. After getting the ball turned over on downs, the Troopers drove the field and Maman ran in another score from seven yards out, 16-0. Be’er Sheva’s Tomer Cohen hit a 34-yard field goal with 42 seconds to go in the half, 16-3.
Davis got the home team going in the second half with a 58-yard touchdown run, 22-3. Dvir Argouan intercepted a pass by Be’er Sheva quarterback Itay Reuven to start the fourth quarter. Davis ran in a 39-yarder for the final score.
Davis finished the game with 217 yards and two scores on 13 carries. Arshavsky went 8/18 for 103 yards and a score. Maman caught two passes for 49 yards and a score, adding 34 yards and a score on the ground. Avraham Remer led the defense with nine tackles.
Reuven completed 14/32 passes for 121 yards and two interceptions. Katz caught seven passes for 79 yards. Edi Peru and Sandro Kalandadze each had eight tackles and a sack for the Swarm defense.
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 rocks Mazkeret Batya
Haifa stayed in the race for the top seed with a victory over the visiting Silverbacks.
Haifa quarterback Matt Kauffman connected with wide receiver Matan Fourier for a 9-yard touchdown and an initial 7-0 lead. Later, 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 and a 13-7 halftime lead.
Haifa came out of the break with a 16-yard TD pass to tight end Amit Kolton, 20-7. Also in the third quarter, 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.
Kauffman completed 17/27 passes for 234 yards, five touchdowns and an interception. Kolton caught 3-79-2, Fourier caught 2-43-2, and Chubinski caught 3-49-1. Ndavyah Williams had 37 yards on seven carries. Mica Allon led the defense with 12 tackles.
Plotkin finished 4/18 for 32 yards and three interceptions, plus a rushing touchdown. Ohad Samuely rushed 25 times for 92 yards and Maxim Levin caught three passes for 29 yards. Roni Bar-Ziv led the defense with nine tackles.
The Underdogs have clinched a home game, and the main question is in which round. If they beat the Lions today, 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.
Pioneers survive a close one
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. In the second quarter, two long runs by Yuval 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 four, 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, and managed to hold it for the rest of the game.
Markoe completed 16/30 passes for 228 yards, two scores and two 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 six passes for 80 yards. Jason Leos led the defensive charge with 14 tackles and a forced fumble.
Hakami completed 11/21 passes for 133 yards, two scores and a pick for the Hammers, who were missing star receiver Jonathan Curran. Nachi Brodt caught 2-54-1. Yair ben-Moshe led the defense with six tackles.
The Pioneers can clinch the top seed with a victory tomorrow night against the Rebels and will be the 3rd seed if they lose.
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