More than 700 fans packed into Kraft Family Stadium for the eighth annual Israel Bowl, the finals of the Kraft Family Israel Football League, where the Judean “Orli Print” Rebels came away with a close 20-10 victory over the Tel Aviv “Hotel Gilgal” Pioneers.
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The Pioneers started the game strongly with a drive that stayed mainly on the ground with Ari Wilen, who finished it off with a beautiful, 21-yard touchdown run. The defending Kraft Family IFL champs extended their lead to 8-0 after QB Adi Hakami completed the conversion to Dor Feigenbloom.
The Rebels immediately responded with a drive led by RB Ari Levin, who punched in a TD after a nice grab by WR Gideon Reiz. The Rebels couldn’t convert and so the score remained 8-6 in favor of the Pioneers. The Rebels ‘D’ forced a punt, but punter Tal Brown kicked a beautiful coffin-corner kick and pinned the Rebels down on their own five-yard line.
It was a great night for both punting units, as the Rebels put all four of their punts inside the Pios’ 15-yard line, and the Pioneers put 4/5 inside the Rebels’ 15. The Rebels set off on a long drive, but Pioneers’ DB Daniel Ben-Zvi picked off Rebels’ QB Avrami Farkas to give his team the ball back.
The second quarter started with the Rebel defense stopping the Pioneers on fourth down, and the Pioneer ‘D’ promptly returned the favor. Another beauty by Brown pinned the Rebels down on their own 3, and although the Rebels were able to pull off a 12-play, 50-yard drive, the Pioneers defense stopped them on fourth-and-goal with 50 seconds to go in the half, lead by OLB Charlie Gordon.
Dani Eastman picked off Hakami, and a nice return set the Rebels up for one final play before halftime. They were able to complete the momentum swing as Farkaz found Reiz, who powered his way into the end zone for a 12-8 Rebel lead at the break.
The Rebels got good field position to start the second half after a nice return by Reiz, but Farkas was picked off (again) by Ben-Zvi, who himself had a phenomenal game. The teams exchanged punts twice, with the last being a punt by Brown that buried the Rebels on their own one-yard line. This time it cost the Rebels points, as Farkas was called for intentional grounding inside the end zone: 12-10 Rebels.
The Pioneers tried using the momentum shift in their favor, but Aryeh Eastman strip-sacked Hakami, and LB Mordy Tryfus recovered to give the Rebels good field position. The Tel Aviv defense forced a punt, which the Rebels downed on the three-yard line. Liran Karel made a pretty catch in traffic to dig the Pios out of their hole, but at the beginning of the fourth quarter Elie Mendlowitz picked off Hakami. The Pioneers defense immediately bounced back, as Elan Neiger picked off Farkas.
The teams exchanged punts again, after solid defense by both sides, and the Pioneers wound up punting from their own end zone. A nice return by Eastman set the Rebels up at midfield, and after a catch-and-run from Farkas to Eastman, the pair connected for a touchdown with 1:24 to go in the game, putting the Rebels ahead 20-10 after a successful conversion run by Eastman.
The Pioneers tried a trick play, but Eastman skied to intercept the ball and give the Rebels possession with 1:15 to go. After Tel Aviv burned their timeouts to stop the clock, the Rebels punted the ball back, pinning them at their own 4 with 3 seconds remaining. A short pass from Hakami to Simmonds wasn’t enough and the Rebel celebrations began.
Dani Eastman was selected as the Israel Bowl MVP. He registered five catches for 90 yards and a score, 22 rushing yards, seven tackles, two INTs, and put all four of his punts inside the Tel Aviv 15-yard line.
Farkas finished 11/30 for 159 yards, two TDs and three INTs, adding 16 rushing yards. Reiz caught five balls for 62 yards and a score, and Levin rushed for 26 yards and a touchdown. Ayal Frankfurter, Uria Loberbom and Jeremiah Jelski each registered seven tackles, with Loberbom adding 2.5 tackles-for-loss, and Frankfurter adding one.
For the Pioneers, Hakami finished 7/19 for 66 yards and three INTs, with another 26 yards on the ground. Wilen had 86 yards and a score on the ground, while Simmonds had four catches for 23 yards. Gordon led the defense with nine tackles and a sack, Ben-Zvi had five tackles, two picks, and two break-ups, while Asaf Katz and Avia Shermak each had six tackles.