Israel Football: Rebels Nip Underdogs, Pioneers Win Shootout

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The Haifa Underdogs practicing
The Haifa Underdogs practicing Credit: Ziv Rom

Both IFL games last weekend went down to the wire, with the Judean Rebels and the Tel Aviv Pioneers coming out on top.

The Rebels scored on a last-second touchdown and conversion to beat the visiting Haifa Underdogs 14-13 on Friday, while on Saturday night in Tel Aviv, the Pioneers and Troopers engaged in another shootout, with the host Pioneers winning by a final score of 60-52.

The Rebels had a strange morning, scoring only on the first and last drives of the game, but somehow coming away with the win. Rebel QB Yehuda Mendlowitz passed to Yoel Hughes for a 39-yard score on the first drive of the game. Haifa then took a 7-6 lead after QB Ron Dafni found a wide-open Matan Fourier for a 32-yard pass into the red zone, and Hillel Meran scored from one yard out. Harrison Duke-Fearnley hit a 33-yard field goal with under a minute to play in the half to put Haifa up 10-6.

Duke-Fearnley hit a 22-yarder early in the fourth quarter, but the biggest drama came in the final minute. The Rebels got the ball back after a Haifa punt with 38 seconds left. Mendlowitz threw up a prayer to Yoel Hughes, who came down with it on the Haifa 17 with nine seconds to go. An unsportsmanlike penalty took the Rebels half the distance to the goal, and Mendlowitz found Hughes in the corner of the end zone as time expired, running in the winning conversion himself.

Mendlowitz completed 23 of 37 passes for 246 yards, two scores and an INT. Hughes caught 4-95-2. Avraham Fisgus had eight tackles and a sack for the Rebels.

Dafni completed 7 of15 passes for 69 yards and Meran had 22 carries for 45 yards and a score. Mica Allon racked up 18 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.

Pioneers do it again

It was another shootout between the Pioneers and Troopers, from which Tel Aviv emerged victoriously, 60-52.

The Troopers scored on their first drive with a Chris Daves rushing TD, 6-0, and the Pioneers answered with an almost six-minute drive culminating in an Omri Mizrachi sneak, 8-6.

Yuval Fenta carried in a TD at the start of the second quarter, 16-6. Two plays later, Farkas threw a 55-yard TD pass to Jonathan Curran, 16-12, but Ariel Hoffman answered with a score of his own, 24-12. Farkas and Curran connected for two more scores, the latter with 56 seconds to play in the half to go ahead 26-24.

That lead didn’t last long, as Fenta scored his second of the night on the first drive of the half, 30-26. Farkas answered with a scoring pass to tight end Ira Yaari to retake the lead at 32-30. Fenta scored again on the first play of the fourth quarter, but Farkas threw his fourth touchdown pass to Curran, making it a 38-all ballgame with 8:33 to play.

Rookie Shachar Regev returned the ensuing kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown, 46-38. The Pioneers took control of the game when Nerya Busi recovered a fumble on a botched exchange between Farkas and Ari Levin, immediately followed by a Fenta TD run, 54-38. Farkas capped a 10-play, five-minute drive, with a TD pass to Jesse Hartman for a touchdown, making it 54-44 with three minutes to play. Mizrachi stretched the lead to 60-44 when he threw a TD to Regev with 1:11 left. Before Farkas connected with Gideon Reiz for a meaningless score. The win propelled Tel Aviv from seventh to third place in the crowded IFL standings.

Mizrachi completed 7 of 14 passes for 91 yards, a TD and a pick, adding a rushing TD. Fenta rushed 27 times for 209 yards and four TDs, and Hoffman added 13-72-1. Kevin Hushie had eight tackles.

Farkas had quite the evening as he set three IFL single-game records in the loss, going 29 of 53 for 399 yards (all records) and seven TDs (tied for third), along with one interception. Curran caught 10-143-4. Yair Ben-Moshe had eight tackles, a forced fumble and an INT.

On Friday, the Underdogs host the Pioneers, while the Rebels travel to Mazkeret Batya to play the Silverbacks. The Troopers have a week off before hosting the league-leading Jerusalem Lions next Thursday.

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