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Pioneers Stymie Rebels in Upset to Reach Israel Bowl VII

Jerusalem Lions advance after overtime victory against Ramat Hasharon to set up a rematch of Israel Bowl II

Betzalel Friedman
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Binyamin Schultz of the Big Blue Lions making a helmet catch against the Hammers Friday.
Binyamin Schultz of the Big Blue Lions making a helmet catch against the Hammers Friday. Credit: Yael Shem Tov
Betzalel Friedman

The Tel Aviv Pioneers last Friday stifled the Judean Rebels’ offense and came away with a 38-32 victory, while the Jerusalem Lions beat Ramat Hasharon in overtime 42-36 on Tiran Koren’s 3-yard run, which sets up a rematch of Israel Bowl II in Israel Bowl VII.

The Pioneers will be making their third finals appearance in six years. Game time is 13:35 P.M. today at Kraft Stadium. In Israel Bowl II, the Pioneers won on a walk-off pick-6 by Ohad Naveh.

The Pioneers came into the game sharp and the Rebels just couldn’t maintain their season-long form against a punishing Pioneer defensive line.

For the second time in three years, the Pioneers came to Jerusalem’s Kraft Stadium and knocked off a previously unbeaten opponent in the semifinals, as they snuffed out a late Rebel comeback bid to clinch their berth in Israel Bowl VII.

The Pioneers started with the ball, but QB Ronny Moscona threw an early interception to the Rebels’ Jason Hess.

The Rebels had to punt the ball away and the Pioneers drove the field with a 4-minute 11-play drive which ended with a Josh Henry 4-yard TD run.

The Rebels bounced right back with a Dani Eastman kick-return touchdown and the tying conversion run by Joe Martisius.

In the second quarter, Josh Henry escaped many would-be tacklers en route to a 17-yard run, and a pass to Daniel Ben-Zvi set up a TD pass from Moscona to tight end Omri Sapir.

The Rebels turned the ball over on downs after failing to convert on a fourth-and-two, and a 28-yard Moscona pass to Cam Simmonds down to the 1 set up Henry for another TD plunge.

The Rebels drove the field and a 24-yard catch-and-run from Farkas to Eastman set up a TD pass from Farkas to Martisius with just under five minutes to play in the half, cutting the Pioneers’ lead to 24-16 going into halftime.

The Rebels got the ball to start the half but Ziv Weinberg picked off Farkas’s pass, setting up Henry’s third TD run of the night to make it 32-16 Pioneers.

The Rebels’ first drive of the fourth quarter culminated in a Joe Martisius touchdown run on the fourth down to bring them within one score at 32-24.

The Pioneers drove the field and a short pass from Moscona to Ben-Zvi turned into touchdown pay-dirt with some elusive running by Ben-Zvi and great downfield blocking by Sapir to give the Pios a two-score lead with 9 minutes to play.

The Rebels’ offense was able to put together one more scoring drive which Eastman finished off with a TD run, and converted it himself to bring the Rebels to within 6 points at 38-32 with 4 minutes to go.

The Rebel D forced a Pioneer punt with 2:40 to go to give their offense one last chance to tie or win the game.

Eastman ran for a 6-yard keeper and then threw an incompletion before being sacked by Senyor and Weinberg on 3rd down.

On a fourth-and-season for the Rebels, Senyor teamed up with Daveed Abell to sack Eastman and send the surprising Pioneers into the finals and the previously undefeated Rebels home for the off-season.

Moscona 11/25 for 123 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs, while Henry rushed for 77 yards and 3 TDs on 22 carries. Sapir caught 4 passes for 41 yards and a TD and Ben-Zvi caught 3 passes for 52 yards and a TD. For the Rebels, Farkas went 11/18 for 131 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT before being replaced by Martisius who went 7/16 for 81 yards and an INT. Martisius added a TD catch and a rushing TD.

Big Blue big in OT

The Lions went ahead early and stayed ahead for most of the game, but the Hammers came back and took the lead in the middle of the 4th quarter. The Lions tied the game, and each team had a chance to win the game, but neither could convert, and the

Lions won in overtime 42-36 to advance to the finals.

Jerusalem led by as much as 24-6 before Jonathan Curran scored on a 35-yard run with under two minutes to play in the second period to cut the Lions’ halftime lead to 24-14.

The Hammers got the ball to start the second half and Curran and co. drove the field, and Curran found Nachi Brodt in the end-zone to bring the Hammers to within 4 points.

Later in the third quarter, Schiff found Effi Mishaan for a 24-yard score, with just under 3 minutes to go in the third. Curran took the ensuing kickoff to the house to tilt the momentum back to Ramat Hasharon’s side, trailing 30-28 going into the final quarter.

Jonathan Curran gets the job done

A couple of possessions later, a 30-yard run by Abraham Del-Real and a 15-yard pass to Adam Davis set up a Curran pass to Jesus Z’cruz with 6 minutes to go to take the lead for the first time in the game.

After a Lions punt, Curran was being taken down and tried to throw it away. Flaster tipped it in the air and Schultz caught the ball and ran it in to the end zone to tie the game at 36.

The Lions had a chance to take the lead on the conversion, but a miscommunication between Schif and Mishaan had the pass all incomplete.

A huge 37-yard pass from Curran to Davis put the Hammers right back in scoring position, and they ran the ball (and the clock) right down to fourth-and-six from the 11 with 24 seconds to go.

The kicking unit came out to attempt a lead-taking field goal, but the kick was too low. The Lions drove the field but Schiff threw two incompletions to end regulation and send the game into overtime.

Both sides held on defense to open the overtime but Ramat Hasharon’s Rosenblum was called for a personal foul on Lions’ TE Shmuel Halpern, which gave the Lions first-and-goal from the 4-yard line.

On second down, Schiff pitched the ball to Tiran Koren who got the lead block from Hillel Goldstein to squeeze his way into the end zone and set off the Lions’ celebrations.

Schiff finished 14/34 passing for 150 yards and 3 TDs. Mishann had 60 yards and a TD on the ground, and 45 yards and a TD receiving.

Curran did almost everything for the Hammers, as he finished 4/13 passing for 66 yards, 2 TDs and an INT, and he also rushed 15 times for 126 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus his kick return TD and a tackle and a break-up.

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