Robert Kraft poses on the 30-yard-line of the regulation-size football field at the newly inaugurated Kraft Family Sports Campus in Jerusalem. The New England Patriots owner wrapped up his star-studded Touchdown Israel II trip yesterday..
(photo credit: URIEL STURM)
The penultimate full weekend of games in the Kraft Family Israel Football was an exciting one.
On Thursday night, the Judean Rebels clinched the No. 2 seed as they overcame a 26-8 third-quarter deficit, scoring 30 unanswered points to defeat the Tel Aviv Pioneers 38-26. In a back-and-forth affair on Friday morning, the Petah Tikva Troopers held off the Beersheba Black Swarm 34-30, staying in the race for a first-round home playoff game, and pushing Beersheba to the brink of elimination. Also on Friday morning, first-place the Jerusalem Lions took care of business, defeating the Mazkeret Batya Silverbacks 36-21 to remain undefeated.
In the game of the week, the Rebels scored first on a 61-yard catch-and-run touchdown to Yoel Hughes to go up 8-0.
Yuval Fenta capitalized on a pair of picks from Rebels QB Yehuda Mendlowitz and ran in two Pioneers TDs before Tel Aviv signal-caller Omri Mizrachi took the ball into the end zone himself to stake his side to a 20-8 advantage.
Fenta’s third score of the contest made it 26-8 with 5:20 remaining in the third quarter, but Chesky Tomor got the Judeans’ comeback started with a 54-yard pick-six to bring the score to 26-16.
After Tel Aviv turned the ball over on downs, Mendlowitz threw a short TD pass to Yoel Hughes to start the fourth quarter (26-24). Fenta was a yard short on fourth down on the Pioneers next possession and two long completions by Mendlowitz set up a short TD pass to Zevi Katz to make it 30-26 with 6:36 to play. A 37-yard touchdown from Mendlowitz to Katz made it 38-26 Rebels with under five minutes remaining to close out the scoring.
Mendlowitz completed 19-of-32 passes for 313 yards, four scores and three picks for the Rebels, while Mizrachi completed just 6-of-36 passes for 67 yards and three interceptions, with a rushing touchdown, for the Pioneers. Fenta tied a league record with 34 carries for 190 yards and three TDs in a losing cause.
The Rebels clinched the No. 2 seed with the victory, while there are numerous playoff scenarios for the Pioneers, as they can finish anywhere from third to fifth.
The game on Friday morning was an exciting, back-andforth affair, and the Troopers came out on top, pushing the Black Swarm to the brink of elimination.
Avrami Farkas completed 18-of-32 passes for 243 yards, two TDs a pair of picks for Petah Tikva, while Matanel Katz completed 13-of-30 passes for 173 yards, three scores and three interceptions, also adding 49 yards and a score on the ground.
The Troopers can also finish anywhere from third place to fifth place depending on a number of outcomes, while Beersheba needs Petah Tikva to beat Mazkeret Batya and to itself beat Mazkeret Batya by at least 35 points in order to make the playoffs.
Jerusalem, meanwhile, improved to 9-0 by beating the Silverbacks as backup QB Ezzy Jaski threw for 130 yards and two scores, adding 104 yards and pair of TDs on the ground.
The Lions play the Pioneers next week in their regular-season finale. The Silverbacks have two games left – vs Petah Tikva and Beersheba – and a win or a loss to Beersheba by less than 35 points is enough for them to clinch the first playoff berth in franchise history.