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Israel Football: Swarm Top Pioneers for First Time in Franchise History

It took nine IFL seasons for the Black Swarm to finally knock off the Pioneers, and it accomplished the feat on the road in Tel Aviv

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The Judean Rebels running against the Silverbacks
The Judean Rebels running against the SilverbacksCredit: Tom Nudelman

The Be’er Sheva Black Swarm made franchise history with its first-ever victory over the Tel Aviv Pioneers, 16-14, on Saturday night.

Elsewhere, the Judean Rebels stayed unbeaten, holding off the Mazkeret Batya Silverbacks 22-14 on Thursday.

It took nine IFL seasons for the Black Swarm to finally knock off the Pioneers, and it accomplished the feat on the road in Tel Aviv.

Tel Aviv drew first blood when Idan Melchior tackled Swarm punter Dylan Mauch before he could get the ball off, and the T.A. offense capitalized quickly with a touchdown run by Ariel Hoffman. Ronnie Hayes answered with his second kick return touchdown in as many weeks, knotting the score at eight.

The Pioneers countered with a fourth-down touchdown run by Hoffman to make it 14-8 as the second quarter got underway. The rest of the quarter was quiet until Be’er Sheva QB Matanel Katz connected with Tomare Curran, putting the Swarm ahead with 42 ticks left in the first half, 16-14.

Defense dominated the second half. Near the end of the game, Tel Aviv drove the field with a chance to take the lead, but turned the ball over on downs. Be’er Sheva was able to kneel out the clock for the milestone victory.

Katz completed seven of 21 passes for 91 yards and a score, leading his team with 19 rushing yards. Hayes caught five passes for 61 yards, along with his kick-return TD. Sandro Kalandadze led the team with 12 tackles and a sack.

Cameron Simmonds completed five of 13 passes for 35 yards. Hoffman had 14 carries for 93 yards and two scores. Asaf Katz led the defense with six tackles and a fumble recovery.

Rebels still rolling

The Judean Rebels overcame a myriad of injuries and barely held off the Silverbacks to stay perfect.

The Silverbacks struck first as Ohad Samuely ran in a TD on the guests’ first drive, 6-0. Yehuda Mendlowitz, who is the Rebels’ backup quarterback, threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Yoel Hughes to start the second quarter and tie the game at six.

In the second half, Rafi Friedman intercepted Mazkeret QB Ido Eisikovits’ pass and ran it back 29 yards for a Rebels’ touchdown and a 14-6 lead. In the fourth quarter, the Rebels capped off an 11-play, six-minute drive with a TD run by Omree Gottlieb to go up 22-6 with just under six minutes to play.

Eisikovits threw a touchdown pass to Nir Yochtman with 3:36, making it a one-score game at 22-14. The Rebels seemed to have the game in hand after Evyatar Cohen recovered the ensuing onside kick, but Mark Rocklin forced a Gottlieb fumble and rookie Shiko Zano recovered for the guests. Three first-down passes by Eisikovits gave the Silverbacks a goal-to-go, but Mendlowitz picked off Eisikovits’ pass, and a first-down run by Avi Landesman settled the contest.

Mendlowitz completed seven of 16 passes for 173 yards and a score in relief for the injured Chaim Aaron, adding 47 yards on the ground. Hughes caught 3-57-1. Eran Roi had 12 tackles on defense.

Eisikovits completed 17 of 32 passes for 212 yards, a score and three picks. Samuely had nine carries for 24 yards and a score. Tomer Hazan had 13 tackles.

On Friday, The Pioneers travel to Mazkeret Batya as the two remaining winless teams square off in search of victory. The Black Swarm have a week off before hosting the Petah Tikva Troopers, while the Rebels will take a bye-week to nurse their injuries before hosting the Lions in the Chanukah Bowl next Thursday night.

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