IFL football asheknazi 248 88.
(photo credit: Joshua Mintz)
Things got considerably tighter atop the Kraft Family IFL standings over the weekend as the last of the unbeaten teams fell and an expansion dark-horse contender nudged its way into the already crowded firstplace race as the season hit its midway point.
In Thursday's Christmas eve special from the capital, the Judean Rebels improved to 3-2 on their inaugural campaign with a comfortable 43-12 victory over the Beersheva Black Swarm.
That proved to be just the table-setter for Saturday night's thrilling clash in Holon, where, in a 32-36 final, the Big Blue Jerusalem Lions cooled down the redhot Mike's Place Tel Aviv Sabres to create a threeway tie for top spot along with the also 4-1 Real Housing Haifa Underdogs.
The Lions, playing without veteran heart-and-soul Yonah Mishaan and tackling-machine Scott Eisenberg, got game-breaking performances from Itai Ashkenazi, Idan Yaron and Amichai Bergman on offense, as well as inspired outings from linebackers Aryeh Bauman and Gani Medad on defense, to deal the Sabres a loss after four opening Ws and quash the latest bid for the IFL's firstever perfect season.
After staking itself to a 24-6 advantage on the opening drive of the third quarter, the Lions almost let the Sabres steal the game back with three second-half touchdowns by Hammude Kassas.
However, Ashkenazi's error-free performance and a key Aryeh Bauman fourth-down sack allowed Big Blue to hold on for the win and bounce back from a tough loss to the Underdogs just one week earlier.
In the Expansion Bowl in Jerusalem, the Rebels got out to a 30-0 lead over the Swarm as Joe Martisius ran for a pair of TDs and threw for another before taking the second half off.
Mordechai Beasley had a stellar outing in a backup role, throwing for 72 yards and a score while picking up 41 yards and another six points with his legs as the boys from Judea picked up a second consecutive victory for the first time in franchise history.
While the Black Swarm fell to 0-6 on the season, it was by far the most complete game for the first-year club, which actually topped the Rebels in total yards for the game and was only outscored 13-12 in an evenly-contested second half.
The Kraft Family IFL gets back to the field this Thursday in Jerusalem with a matchup between the Dancing Camel Modi'in Pioneers and the Papagaio Jerusalem Kings.
With the teams both sitting at 1-3 and tied for fifth place, the pre-New Years showdown - with an 8 p.m. scheduled kickoff time from Kraft Stadium - figures to be a take-no-prisoners slug-fest that no true football fan should miss.
For more information and a complete 2009/10 schedule, please visit www.IFL.co.il