Tel Aviv Pioneers Hand Jerusalem Lions First Loss in Israel Football League

Betzalel Friedman
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Tel Aviv Pioneers blew out the Be’er Sheva Black Swarm 66-0 on April 1, 2016.
Tel Aviv Pioneers blew out the Be’er Sheva Black Swarm 66-0 on April 1, 2016.Credit: Doron Avraham
Betzalel Friedman

The Kraft Family Israel Football League had a full slate this past weekend, with two games going down to the wire, a brand-new single-game record broken, and the single-season rushing record set.

In the first game, the Ramat HaSharon Hammers knocked off the Be’er Sheva Black Swarm 30-22.

The Hammers ran up the score 22-0 on a short touchdown run by quarterback Jonathan Curran, a 33-yard touchdown pass from Curran to Elya Herhkovitz and another sneak into the endzone by Curran.

Be’er Sheva did not get on the board until near the near the end of the third quarter, when Matanel Katz tossed a scoring pass to Tomare Curran. Be’er Sheva pulled within eight with 1:33 to play after a Katz TD pass to Tal Biton, but Ramat HaSharon recovered the attempted onside kick and knelt out the clock, preserving the victory and clinching the fourth seed.

Jonathan Curran completed 11/21 passes for 168 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions, adding 52 yards and three scores on the ground.

Katz completed 8/17 passes for 110 yards, three TDs and two picks, adding 72 yards on the ground.

Next, the Judean Rebels took apart the Mazkeret Batya Silverbacks 26-6.

Jeff Balaban threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Chaim Aaron on the first offensive play of the game, and Aaron ran in a 9-yard score to put the Rebels up 14-0. The ‘Backs’ Ohad Samuely ran in a TD, but Balaban threw a 13-yard TD to Zevi Katz and Avi Landesman ran in another TD right before the half to make it 26-6.

Balaban completed 12/23 passes for 131 yards and two scores and Landesman rushed for 76 yards and a TD. Cole Kiser had nine tackles on defense for the Rebels.

Samuely rushed 28 times for 101 yards and a TD, while Plotkin completed 2/8 passes for 16 yards and a pick. Ofri Launer led the defense with nine tackles.

In Tel Aviv, the Pioneers dealt the Jerusalem Lions their first loss of the regular season with a 22-14 win.

Steve Markoe took in a keeper to put Tel Aviv on top after the first drive, 6-0. Big Blue QB David Abell ran in a 32-yard touchdown to give the visitors an 8-6 lead. In the second quarter, Markoe found Cameron Simmonds for the go-ahead touchdown, 14-8. A 42-yard TD pass from Markoe to Nimrod Pintel made it 22-8 Tel Aviv, with 1:54 to play in the game. But the Lions wouldn’t go away so easily, and after a long keeper Abell found Eli Gurwitz in the end-zone to narrow the gap to 22-14. The Pioneers recovered the ensuing onside attempt, handing the Lions their first loss of the season.

Markoe completed 11/21 passes for 108 yards, two scores, and a rushing TD. Yuval Fenta carried the rock 21 times for 132 yards, breaking the single-season record for rushing yards, and Simmonds caught seven passes for 61 yards and a score

Abell completed 14/33 passes for 173 yards, a score and a pick, adding 117 yards and a score on the ground. Gurwitz caught 2-26-1. Aryeh-Leib Sklar registered 15 tackles for Jerusalem.

In the final contest, the Petah Tikva Troopers destroyed the Haifa Underdogs 55-14.

The story of the game was Petah Tikva QB Avrami Farkas, who completed 14/21 passes for 372 yards, the second-most yardage in a game in league history, and seven touchdown passes, tied for third all-time.

His touchdown targets included Danny Mikhailov, who caught six passes for a record 221 yards and five scores (tied for second all-time), as well as Gideon Reiz and Aaron Karp. Petah Tikva scored 34 points before Haifa even got on the board late in the second quarter.