Lions mount epic comeback to beat Pioneers in Israel Bowl X

With the dramatic 42-36 triumph, the Jerusalem Lions bookended the first decade of the Kraft Family Israel Football League with championships.

By JERUSALEM POST SPORTS STAFF
April 3, 2017 01:24
3 minute read.
JERUSALEM LIONS receiver Ezzy Jaski catches the game-winning touchdown in a dramatic 42-36 overtime

JERUSALEM LIONS receiver Ezzy Jaski catches the game-winning touchdown in a dramatic 42-36 overtime victory for the Lions over the Tel Aviv Pioneers in Israel Bowl X.. (photo credit: DANIELLA DOLGIN/COURTESY)

 
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The Kraft Family Israel Football League crowned a new champion over the weekend, as the Jerusalem Lion rallied from a 14-point deficit late in the fourth quarter of Israel Bowl X to tie the game and send it to overtime, where David Abell connected with his top target Ezzy Jaski to clinch the title with a 42-36 victory.

Almost a thousand fans came to Petah Tikva to watch the 10th edition of the Israeli tackle football final, and IFL Nation could not have asked for a better game. The crowd also enjoyed a halftime performance by former IFL player and “The Voice Israel” contestant Avi Ganz.

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Both teams came into the game looking to get some large monkeys off of their respective backs. The Lions had lost their previous three Israel Bowl appearances, dating back to their championship in Israel Bowl I. The Pioneers, playing in their fourth straight Israel Bowl, lost the last two to the Judean Rebels since having blown out the Lions in Israel Bowl VII.

Jerusalem got on the board first after facing 4th-and-2 from midfield and deciding to go for it. David Abell threw a short pass to veteran Binyamin Schultz, who evaded a few would-be tacklers and gave the Lions an 8-0 lead after the two-point completion to Misha Belov.

The Pioneers answered right back with a four-yard rushing touchdown (and conversion) by Tel Aviv star Yuval Fenta, tying the game with four minutes to play in the half.

Or Shalom intercepted an Abell pass, setting up another Fenta score with three minutes left in the second quarter (16-8), but Abell found Schultz for another catch-and-run touchdown with 1:47 to go in the half to make it 16-14.

Tel Aviv QB Steve Markoe took in a keeper with 26 seconds left, making it 22-14 at the break, and the Pioneers didn’t let up early in the second half, forcing a Jerusalem punt before Markoe threw a bomb to Nimrod Pintel who made a great, one-handed catch to give the Pioneers a two-score lead – 28-14 – with under four minutes to play in the third quarter.

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Abell found Belov for a short score at the start of the fourth to make it 28-22, but another Fenta touchdown with 3:47 to go brought the Pioneers’ advantage to 36-22.

Tel Aviv could feel the trophy within its grasp and the faces on the Lions’ bench looked bleak. However, on fourth down after three straight incompletions, Abell found Ezzy Jaski for a 41-yard catch-and-run, pulling the Lions to within a score, 36-28, with 2:05 to play.

The Lions’ defense held fast, forcing a Tel Aviv punt with under a minute left.

After another three incompletions and facing 4th-and-season, Abell found Belov for a 34-yard pass down to the one, and spiked the ball to stop the clock.

Fenta broke up Abell’s second-down pass, but Abell found Schultz in the front-left corner of the end-zone with six seconds left, and then found Jaski on the goalline for the tying conversion to knot the game at 36.

As per NCAA overtime rules, every team would get one possession at 25-yard line. The Pioneers went first, and the Lions defense held them.

On the very first play of Jerusalem’s possession, Abell threw deep to Jaski who hauled the ball in over Barak Rahavi for the championship- clinching touchdown.

With the dramatic 42-36 triumph, the Jerusalem Lions bookended the first decade of the Kraft Family Israel Football League with championships.

Abell took home game MVP honors after completing 15-of-34 passes for 237 yards, six scores and a pick, as well as 51 yards on the ground, while Fenta rushed 37 times for 163 yards and three TDs in a bitterly disappointing finish for the Pioneers.

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