Israel Football League / Lions Overwhelm Haifa; Pioneers Hold Off Troopers

In offensive bonanzas, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv make it into the semifinals.

Yael Shem Tov

The home teams ruled the day in the IFL wild card round last weekend as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv advanced to the semifinals in aerial shoot-outs.

The Jerusalem Lions took an early lead and trounced the Haifa Underdogs 64-34. The Tel Aviv Pioneers gave up their early lead over the Petah Tikva Troopers but came back to win 50-28.

For Jerusalem, backup quarterback Grant Rumley tied the IFL playoff record with seven passing touchdowns and set a new playoff record with eight total TDs.

Rumley opened the scoring with a beautiful 31-yard touchdown toss to Ariel Schwartz on the Lions’ second possession of the game. After a punt, Rumley connected with Effi Mishaan for a 20-yard score five plays later. Four straight completions for the Underdogs had them in the red zone to end the first quarter at 14-0 Lions.

Haifa quarterback Matt Kauffman found Nimrod Smith for an Underdog score two minutes into the period, but Rumley answered with a 36-yard bomb to Alan Tover.

Kauffman and Smith immediately connected on a 56-yard catch and run to pull the guests to within one score at 20-14, but Rumley took in a keeper with 4:28 to go in the half. Rumley then connected with Tover for a touchdown with 20 seconds to go in the half.

Haifa tried to get closer before the break, but Yoni Cooper strip-sacked Kauffman and the Lions pounced on the ball deep in Haifa territory. Rumley and Tover then connected for another score as time expired to give the Lions a 40-14 halftime lead.

Just 16 seconds into the second half, Cooper was at it again, sacking Kauffman in the end zone for a safety. On the ensuing drive, Rumley connected with Schwartz again for a touchdown and a 48-12 lead.

By the end of the third quarter, Big Blue was up 64-22 before giving back a couple of meaningless scores in the final period for the final 64-34 margin.

Rumley finished the night 15-for-22 for 262 yards and seven touchdowns, and one rushing TD. He threw one interception.

Tover was his leading receiver with three catches for 88 yards and three touchdowns. Mishaan caught five passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 47 yards and a touchdown. Schwartz had three catches for 43 yards and two touchdowns.

Cooper finished with a postseason record of four sacks to go along with seven tackles and a forced fumble. Rafi Grabin had eight tackles and a sack, while Binyamin Schultz and Josh Flaster added five tackles each.

Kauffman finished 19-for-30 for 244 yards and five touchdowns. Smith had seven catches for a record-tying 147 yards and three touchdowns, while Matan Fourier caught seven for 55 yards and two TDs.

On defense, Mica Allon led the way with 11 tackles and a pick, while Niv Medlinger had 10 tackles.

The Lions advance to play the Ramat Hasharon Hammers in the semifinals Friday at 10:30 A.M.

Not-so-super troopers

The Pioneers got off to an early 20-0 lead but the Troopers clawed their way to a 28-26 lead heading into the fourth quarter, before the Pioneers put together a 24-0 period and clinched their 50-28 victory.

Tel Aviv quarterback Ronny Moscona finished 16-for-31 for 173 yards, with five touchdowns and three interceptions, while adding 31 yards and touchdown on the ground.

Noam Dalal had 58 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, while five different receivers caught touchdown passes. Travis Mascitelli led the bunch with six catches for 61 yards and a TD.

Asaf Katz led the Pioneer defense with seven tackles and half a sack, while Charles Gordon had six tackles and half a sack.

Trooper quarterback Garrett Moore went 18-for-39 for 173 yards and three touchdowns. Bar Rudich caught all three touchdowns and finished with eight catches for 100 yards. E.J. Glatt and Dvir Argouan each had four catches.

Adi Badash’s six rushing yards and touchdown led the Troopers’ ground game, as they were held to a net minus eight yards on the ground. Badash led the defense with a stellar 15 tackles.