Jerusalem captures 2nd straight Israel Bowl

With the victory, the Lions also become the third IFL franchise to reach three Israel Bowl titles, joining the Judean Rebels and the now-defunct Tel Aviv Sabres.

JERUSALEM LIONS players celebrate after defeating the Petah Tikva Troopers over the weekend to claim back-to-back championships in the Kraft Family Israel Football League. (photo credit: DOTAN DORON)
JERUSALEM LIONS players celebrate after defeating the Petah Tikva Troopers over the weekend to claim back-to-back championships in the Kraft Family Israel Football League.
(photo credit: DOTAN DORON)
As the record-breaking crowd on hand at the new Kraft Family Sports Campus sang and danced throughout Israel Bowl XI, the Jerusalem Lions captured their second consecutive Israel Bowl title, and third overall in franchise history, over the weekend with a 28-20 victory over the Petah Tikva Troopers.
Led by reigning two-time regular season Most Valuable Player David Abell, the Lions were able to stave off a comeback attempt by the Troopers to secure an undefeated season, while earning the right to be called one of the greatest dynasties in Israel Football League history in the process.
After leading the regular season in both scoring offense and defense, the Lions entered the 2018 postseason with high hopes and expectations, and they certainly lived up to the billing with a 54-12 victory over the Tel Aviv Pioneers in the semifinals, before Petah Tikva in a tightly waged final.
Abell, who looked a little shaky in the opening quarter, overthrew a number of receivers and tossed a rare interception before turning to his legs to settle him down. Abell would finish the game with 122 passing yards, along with a game-high 138 rushing yards on 14 carries. He also added three clutch catches for 54 yards, and was involved in three of the four touchdowns the Lions would score on the evening en route to earning Israel Bowl XI MVP honors.
Appearing in their first ever Israel Bowl, the Petah Tivka Troopers hoped to keep momentum going from their previous two playoff victories into their battle against the Jerusalem juggernaut, but ultimately fell short of the triumphant victory.
On their first offensive snap in the Israel Bowl, Chris Daves fumbled the football deep inside their own territory, setting up a Lions touchdown on the ensuing play. Early in the second quarter, Daves, Petah Tikva’s do-it-all weapon and Special Teams Player-of-the-Year candidate, was ejected after picking up his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty of the half.
With Daves out of the game, the Troopers lost a dimension of their game plan, and were forced to abandon the run much earlier than they would have liked, finishing the game with a mere eight yards rushing.
While the Troopers did find success through the air, with QB Avrami Farkas throwing for a game-high 262 yards and three touchdowns, it was his two interceptions along with Daves’s critical early fumble and the non-existent rushing attack that held the Troopers back.
While the Lions knew they wouldn’t be able to stop all of the Troopers offensive weapons, it was clear that their focus was on former IFL MVP Dani Eastman, who for the second consecutive year, missed a considerable amount of time due to a broken ankle. Finally healthy, Eastman had terrorized both the Silverbacks and the Rebels in the quarterfinals and semis, respectively. However, versus the Lions, Eastman was grounded, recording just 41 total yards and no scores. By neutralizing the former MVP, the Lions were able to focus on generating pressure on Farkas, forcing him out of the pocket and into difficult throwing situations.
Still, the Lions were never able to pull away with the game, as the Troopers had a chance to tie in the late stages of the fourth quarter. However, after failing to convert on fourth-and- 10 with 1:44 remaining near midfield, the Lions took over on downs before running out the clock, ending the 2017/18 IFL campaign with a perfect season (12-0).
With the victory, the Lions also become the third IFL franchise to reach three Israel Bowl titles, joining the Judean Rebels and the now-defunct Tel Aviv Sabres.


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