The Tel Aviv Pioneers held off a Judean Rebels fourth-quarter rally to beat the defending champs 42-34 in Israeli football’s best game of the week.
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Other contests produced blowouts: The Petah Tikva Troopers blanked the winless Mazkeret Batya Silverbacks 60-0, and the Jerusalem Lions, aka Big Blue, thrashed the Be’er Sheva Black Swarm 48-6.
A nifty lateral on the opening kickoff from Dani Eastman to Aaron Karp set the Troopers (3-1) up inside Silverbacks territory, where the ball would be for most of the day. Two 16-yard Eastman runs put the hosts in the end zone less than a minute in, putting the score at 8-0.
That drive would be the first of eight touchdowns for Petah Tikva. Avrami Farkas found tight end Aryeh Eastman for a two-yard score to start the second quarter. A bad snap on a punt attempt gave the Troopers the ball on the Mazkeret Batya two-yard line, and Ari Levin punched it in. Rookie Avi Schamroth picked off a Tim Plotkin pass and returned it 58 yards for a 30-0 score going into the locker room.
In the third quarter, Farkas hit Gideon Reiz and Aaron Karp for touchdowns. He then found Karp again and Danny Mikhailov for a 21-yard score and the final touchdown of the day.
Farkas completed 13 of 24 passes for 189 yards and five touchdowns. Mikhailov caught four passes for 96 yards and one touchdown, while Karp caught two passes for 34 yards and two touchdowns. Eastman led the ground attack with 69 yards and a score. Enrique Roth had eight tackles.
Plotkin completed six of 17 passes for 57 yards and an interception in the loss.
Pioneers hold off Rebels
In a great, turnover-free game, the Tel Aviv Pioneers held off the surprising Judean Rebels 42-34.
The first play of the game gave a glimpse of what was in store. The Rebels, determined to stop the run, crowded the line and the Pioneers ran a quarterback sneak for nine yards. Star running back Yuval Fenta got the next four carries, including a 27-yard scamper, setting Steve Markoe up for an early score to make it 6-0 Pioneers.
After Rebels’ quarterback Jeff Balaban led a balanced attack ending with a touchdown toss to Chaim Aaron to knot the game at six, Fenta found the end zone from 32 yards out and Markoe took in his second score on the first drive of the second quarter to make it 20-6 Pioneers. The two teams then exchanged touchdowns as Avi Landesman ran one in for the Rebels and Fenta rushed for his second before the break with the Pioneers up 28-14.
Tel Aviv went up 36-14 on another Fenta score. The Rebels responded immediately with a 59-yard Aaron touchdown run to make it 36-22, but Markoe found an otherwise-quiet Nimrod Pintel for a 27-yard score to push the lead to an insurmountable 42-22, withstanding two late Rebel scores.
Markoe completed four of 11 passes for 48 yards and a touchdown, and rushed for 22 yards and two scores. Fenta ran 21 times for 139 yards and three touchdowns (but also fumbled three times) behind a dominant offensive line. Or Shalom led the defense with 12 tackles.
Balaban completed seven of 11 passes for 90 yards and two scores. Aaron went one for two for 23 yards passing. But he also caught five passes for 33 yards and one touchdown, while carrying the ball three times for 70 yards and one touchdown.
Jerusalem leaves Be’er Sheva blue
Be’er Sheva was only able to stay with Jerusalem for part of the first quarter before Big Blue pounded out five consecutive touchdowns for a 42-6 victory.
The Black Swarm turned the ball over on downs to start the game, and Lions quaterback David Abell passed to Ezzy Jaski for a 22-yard touchdown to make it 6-0. The Black Swarm answered immediately with a 21-yard scoring pass from Matanel Katz to Tomare Curran, tying the score at six.
It was all Lions from then on, as Abell and Jerome Wojtalik ran in touchdowns and Abell found Eli Gurwitz for a 27-yard score right before the half. After the break, Abell scored again on a keeper and then connected with Dany Yehoshua and Zachi Silas for two more scores.
Abell completed 13 of 20 passes for 223 yards, four scores and a pick, adding 42 yards and two scores on the ground. Wojtalik rushed 10 times for 92 yards and one touchdown, and Jaski caught three passes for 62 yards and one touchdown. Mordy Charnowitz led the defense with six tackles.