Israel Football / Rebels Beat Pioneers in Rematch of 2015 Championship Game

Betzalel Friedman
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Action from Judean Rebels vs Tel Aviv Pioneers, January 22, 2016.
Action from Judean Rebels vs Tel Aviv Pioneers, January 22, 2016.Credit: Dotan Doron
Betzalel Friedman

The Judean Rebels stormed back from an early 20-8 deficit against the Tel Aviv Pioneers to win handily 44-20 last Friday, in a rematch of last year’s Kraft Family Israel Bowl championship game.

Last Saturday, meanwhile, the Jerusalem Lions rolled over the Mazkeret Batya Silverbacks 50-7.

The Pioneers started the scoring with a 16-yard touchdown by rookie running back Yuval Fenta, making it 6-0 to the Pioneers. A quarterback sneak by Steve Markoe later put the Pioneers up 12-0.

The visiting Judeans finally got something going as rookie Misha Belov caught a 24-yard pass from Chaim Schiff and Dani Eastman ran in a touchdown from seven yards out for 12-8. Nimrod Pintel got the Pioneers right back at it with a 47-yard kickoff return, and two plays later it was Fenta again with a touchdown, this time for 21 yards to make it 20-8.

Tel Aviv didn’t realize it, but its luck had just run out and the Rebels would account for all of the game’s remaining 36 points.

First, Schiff hit Gideon Reiz to close the gap to 20-16. The Rebels took the lead on the very next offensive play: Schiff found Reiz with a short pass, and Reiz hurdled a defender and took the ball 55 yards to the house, making it 24-20 to the Rebels.

Tel Aviv added three more touchdowns in the second half, on a 59-yard interception return by reigning MVP Eastman; a 24-yard reception by little-used tight end Cole Kiser from Schiff; and a rush by Ari Gold behind fullback Uria Loberbom.

Schiff completed 15/29 passes for 211 yards, three scores and a pick. Reiz caught six passes for 105 yards and two scores, and Belov caught five passes for 60 yards. Eastman led the defense with 11 tackles, two interceptions and two breakups.

It was a rough day for the Pioneers, who lost starting defenders Avia Shermak, Asaf Katz and Charlie Gordon to injury, in the first, second and third quarters respectively. Markoe finished 11/29 for 121 yards and two picks, adding a rushing touchdown. Fenta had a phenomenal first half with 122 yards and two scores before the break, and finished with 21 carries for 147 yards and two scores plus 22 receiving yards.

Lions 50, Silverbacks 7

The Lions crushed host Mazkeret Batya in a mostly dry game completed before the big storm hit Israel.

David Abell ran the ball 39 yards for the Lions’ first touchdown, 6-0, while Lions’ quarterback Binyamin Schultz passed to Abell for a 20-yard score to take an early 14-0 advantage. The Silverbacks’ Rotem Oz recovered a fumble in the Lions’ end-zone for Mazkeret Batya’s sole touchdown.

A 10-play Lions drive just before halftime ended with a TD pass from Schultz to tight end Shmuel Halpern (22-7), which set the tone for the second-half romp.

Jerusalem went on to score four more times in the final 30 minutes, on a 34-yard scoring pass from Schultz to Abell; a rushing touchdown by Abell; a pick-six by Ori Refaelowitz; and a nifty touchdown run by Aaron Stefansky.

Schultz completed 8/17 passes for 132 yards and three scores. Abell had four carries for 86 yards and two scores, and added an interception. Charnowitz had a great game on defense with 10 tackles, three tackles for loss, a pick and a forced fumble.

Ido Eisikovits completed 13/30 passes for 111 yards, a touchdown and four picks. And Tomer Hazan had a monster game on defense with 14 tackles.