IFL / Haifa Wins Again in Overtime, Beating Tel Aviv

Underdogs have their day with 21-20 triumph over Tel Avi Pioneers, while Judean Rebels have Mazkeret Bayta pining for home.

Yuval Haimov

The Haifa Underdogs posted their second overtime victory of the young season, a 21-20 triumph over the visiting Tel Aviv Pioneers. Ramat Hasharon Hammers overcame a slow start to beat Petah Tikva Troopers 36-8, while the Judean Rebels cruised to a 66-0 victory over Mazkeret Batya Silverbacks.

The Underdogs began their contest in a 6-0 hole as Tel Aviv QB Alex Swieca marched his team 58 yards down the field on the opening drive and punched the ball into the end zone himself from two yards out. The Pioneers stretched their lead on the first play of the second quarter after Swieca found Travis Mascitelli for a 44-yard score, which put Tel Aviv ahead 14-0 after a successful Swieca bootleg on the conversion.

Haifa benefited from a rain-induced bad snap deep in Tel Aviv territory late in the second quarter. QB Matt Kauffman immediately found his enormous tight end Amit Kolton, for a seven-yard TD pass, which cut Tel Aviv’s lead to 14-7 at halftime. Haifa put together a 13-play drive to start the second half, but was stopped at the Tel Aviv eight-yard line. Steve Markoe lost a fumble to Rudy Rattner, and two plays later Kauffman found Kolton for a 19-yard scoring pass during which the tight end broke through three potential touchdown-saving tackles, and tied the game up at 14-each.

With no team able to score during the rest of the game, Haifa got the ball first in overtime. After a 12-yard QB keeper, it was Ndavyah Williams scoring from four yards out. Ilya Averbuch’s third extra-point attempt of the day was good, putting the hosts up 21-14. Markoe immediately found Mascitelli for a 25-yard TD pass, but Markoe’s QB sneak fell short on the conversion attempt as Haifa remained the lone undefeated team after three victories over three contenders.

Kauffman finished 14/30 for 128 yards, two TDs and one INT, adding 30 yards on the ground. Williams finished with 24 carries for 68 yards and a score. Kolton caught six passes for 61 yards and two scores, while Nimrod Smith caught five for 51 yards. Mica Allon had a great game on defense with 12 tackles, including 4.5 tackles-for-loss.

Swieca went 7/15 for 123 yards and a TD, plus a rushing TD, before leaving the game with an injury. In his place, Markoe went 2/7 for 32 yards, a TD and an INT. Mascitelli caught five passes for 117 yards and two scores.

Troopers hammered

Ramat Hasharon proved rude guests, scoring the first 28 points of the game against host Petah Tikva en route to a 36-8 romp.

Adi Hakami connected with favorite target Jonathan Curran for a 14-yard score – and the first score of the night – just as the second quarter got underway. Hakami made the most of a Roye Totah interception with three straight pass completions to three different receivers, the last being a 10-yard scoring pass to Tomare Curran. Hakami later found Curran for a 31-yard TD pass to head into the half up 22-0.

The Hammers got the second half started with a nine-play, 77-yard drive, highlighted by a beautiful 48-yard pass from Hakami to Curran, and culminating in a six-yard TD pass to Chen Doron, as the latter powered his way backward across the goal line. The Troopers finally scored as the third quarter came to a close, when Idan Dikstein intercepted an errant Hakami pass and rumbled 59 yards for a pick six.

The Hammers hardly lost their momentum. Hakami found Curran again, this time for 33 yards, setting up a 13-yard TD pass to Tal Greenblat to close out the scoring.

Relentless Rebels

The Judean Rebels started their game against Mazkeret Batya on the ground with a 29-yard run and six-yard TD run by Avi Landesman, and never looked back as they shut out the Silverbacks 66-0.

The Rebels scored six more times in the first half on a five-yard TD run by Avraham Fisgus, a 21-yard TD reception by Dani Eastman from Chaim Schiff, a 66-yard punt return TD (the longest in IFL history) by Eastman, aided by a crushing block by Jeremiah Jelski; a 39-yard pick six by Eastman; a 36-yard fumble recovery on the very next play from scrimmage by Eastman; and an eight-yard TD pass from Schiff to Misha Belov right before the half.

Ahead 44-0 in the third quarter, Schiff found his backup, Jeff Balaban, for a score, as Balaban made a nifty sliding catch near the back of the end zone. Jelski got into the act on offense, running in a TD from six yards out as the fourth quarter got underway. Finally, Balaban found Chaim Aaron for a nice 27-yard touchdown pass.

Schiff finished 12/19 for 191 yards and 3 scores, and Landesman had 63 yards and a score on six carries. Ami Notis led the Rebel defense with 10 tackles.