Big Blue Lions Hold Off Hammers, as TA Shut Out Haifa

Silverbacks squeeze past Troopers to keep their playoff hopes alive.

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

It was an exciting weekend in the Kraft Family Israel Football League as the Jerusalem ‘Big Blue’ Lions held off the Ramat Hasharon Hammers 38-32, the Tel Aviv Pioneers unexpectedly blew out the visiting Haifa Underdogs and four lead changes in the fourth quarter, including two in the last two minutes, characterized the Mazkeret Batya Silverbacks-Petah Tikva Troopers contest, which ended 19-18 in the Silverbacks’ favor.

On Thursday night, the Lions held off the visiting Hammers as they stayed in the race for a first-round bye.

Big Blue went up 16-0 early on two quarterback sneaks by Binyamin Schultz. Ramat Hasharon ran a trick play with Jonathan Curran throwing a 41-yard completion to his younger brother Tomare and Hammers quarterback Adi Hakami found the elder Curran in the end-zone two plays later to narrow the deficit to 16-8.

In the second quarter, the Lions went up 24-8 on a QB keeper by David Abell with just eight seconds to go in the half.

The Hammers came out of the gate with a 29-yard touchdown pass form Hakami to Tomare Curran (24-16) and tied the game at 24 when Benzi Zimmerman strip-sacked Abell and Ido Kamiel took the ball 50 yards to the house. Two plays later the Lions went back ahead with a 42-yard pass from Abell to Aaron Stefansky, 32-24, and with 39 seconds to go in the quarter Abell took in a keeper after an Ori Refaelowitz interception of Hakami, 38-24. Hakami found a streaking Tal Greenblat with a 43-yard touchdown pass as the quarter ended to keep it a one-score game, 38-32.

A scoreless final period kept the game in Big Blue’s hands.

Abell went 7/15 passing for 145 yards and a touchdown, rushed 10 times for 69 yards and 2 touchdowns and caught 2 passes for 63 yards. Schultz went 3/12 for 65 yards, adding 17 yards and 2 scores on the ground. Mordy Charnowitz had 6 tackles.

Hakami went 11/27 passing for 138 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Tomare Curran caught 6 balls for 84 yards and a score and Greenblat caught 3 for 69 and a score.

Pioneers overwhelm Underdogs

An expected tight-fought contest between two contenders turned into a rout Friday when Haifa was flat on offense, while the Pioneers’ rookie phenom Yuval Fenta ran all over the defense on his way to 214 rushing yards, good enough for the fifth-highest single-game total in IFL history.

The first points went on the board as Fenta ran one in from 4 yards out, 8-0 Travis Mascitelli picked off a Matt Kauffman pass in the second quarter to set up a short field and another Fenta TD run. Fenta ran in his third of the day with 6 seconds to play for a 20-0 halftime lead.

Early in the second half, Fenta ran in a 29-yard touchdown. Kauffman was intercepted by Ronny Moscona, which set up a nice catch-and-run touchdown from Pioneers quarterback Steve Markoe to wide receiver Nimrod Pintel to make it 34-0. Yonatan Shavit came off the bench to run in a score for a 40-0 lead, while Markoe found Amir Gertman for a short scoring pass to go up 46-0.

Markoe completed 7/20 passes for 72 yards and 2 scores. Fenta carried the rock 19 times, four of them for touchdowns. Pintel caught 2 passes for 27 yards and a score. Shapiro lead the defense with 10 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

A single point

Four lead changes in the fourth quarter saw the Silverbacks keep their playoff hopes alive with a tight victory over the visiting Troopers on Saturday night.

The Silverbacks drew first blood, going on a 7-minute drive that ended with a Rotem Oz end-around touchdown run, 7-0. The Troopers came right back with an 8-yard touchdown pass from quarterback David Arshavsky to wide receiver Ala Shalabny, 7-6.

Neither side scored again until the third quarter, when The Troopers’ Chris Davis had a 6-yard TD run with 9:46 to go to put his team ahead 12-7. An 8-play Mazkeret Batya drive ended with a 31-yard touchdown pass from Eisikovits to wide receiver Tim Plotkin, giving them a 13-12 lead with 5:29 to play. The teams exchanged punts before Davis rushed on 3 consecutive plays for 51 yards, including a 12-yard TD run with 1:09 to go for an 18-12 lead. Eisikovits completed 4 passes to Plotkin on the Silverbacks’ ensuing drive which, aided by 3 penalties against the Troopers, set the big QB up for a sneak into the end-zone with 21 seconds to go, 19-18. The Troopers had one last shot, but Arshavsky’s pass bounced off of Alon Hartanu’s fingers and into the hand of Zaks to seal the win.

Eisikovits finished 18/35 passing for 136 yards, a TD and a rushing TD. Plotkin caught 10 passes for 78 yards and a score. Oz caught 3 passes for 27 yards plus a score on the ground. Roni Bar-Ziv led the defense with 8 tackles and half a sack.

Arshavsky finished 5/18 passing for 42 yards, a TD and 2 picks. Davis had 14 carries for 155 yards and 2 scores but also fumbled the ball 3 times. Shalabny lead the receivers with 3 catches for 22 yards and a score. On defense, Serebrianikov had 7 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.