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(photo credit: Mindy McKinny)
It was a fittingly phenomenal Super Bowl weekend in the Kraft Family IFL as a pair of wildly different football experiences brought new meaning to the old adage that – as with cats – there is more than one way to skin a pig.
On Friday at the Wingate Institute, the Judean Rebels jumped all over an undermanned opponent and set a new league single-game scoring mark in a 72-20 trouncing of the Real Housing Haifa Underdogs, now losers of four straight.
That proved to be just the table setter for a spectacular Saturday night special in Holon between the Mike’s Place Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres and Papagaio Jerusalem Kings, which came right down to the wire before the hosts prevailed 52-46 in a true barn-burning thriller.
With seven combined touchdowns from Rebels QB Joe Martisius and a 232-yard, five TD performance from Kings super-back Jon Rubin, there was plenty of sizzle to go around between the two games. However, it was the Sabres’ all-around talent Adi Hakami who undoubtedly provided the highlight of the weekend with a 46-yard kick return for a touchdown in the final minute of Saturday’s extravaganza that snatched victory from the jaws of the defeat and put Tel Aviv back alone atop the standings at 7-1.
The Rebels took over sole possession of third place with their lopsided victory, the expansion club’s second in a row after consecutive setbacks, and their record now sits at 5-4 with just a game remaining in the regular season.
Papagaio (3-4), which managed to invert a 12-0 early deficit into a 32-20, 12-point lead of its own, turned in a courageous, turnover-free effort on the road, out-gaining the Sabres in almost every category but points and employing its game plan to perfection. All that is of little consolation, however, in the upshot of a heartbreaking defeat that seemed so promising after a successful Rubin two-point conversion following his fifth TD staked the visitors to a 46-44 advantage with just 44 seconds left.
There was no such silver lining in the embarrassing defeat suffered by the franchise from the North, which unbelievably sat in first place as little as six weeks ago. The Underdogs’ spirit seems to have gone the way of the warm weather, and while a roster ravaged by injuries and other absences may be some sort of justification for the recent displays of apathy, there is no excuse for the 52-point egg that was laid on Friday.
The Rebels, who scored on all but two of their possessions in a high-flying display, really were clicking on all cylinders on both sides of the ball. Both Martisius (21-27, 235 yards, 5 TDs passing, 2 TDs rushing, 1 INT) and his backup Mordechai Beasley (3-3, 2TDs, 73 total yards) had sterling outings on offense, while the bend-but-don’t break defense led by a rabid Yossef Widlan (11 tackles, INT, 45-yard TD rumble) and frenetic Max Barenberg (9 tackles) recovered three fumbles (2 by Ramzy Ahmad) and blocked two punts. Even the kicking game was on exhibit, with Cameron Ahmad booting straight and true on both of his fourth quarter extra-point attempts.
Both Haifa and Judea now have just one game remaining on their schedules; the Rebels visit the Dancing Camel Modi’in Pioneers (2-5) this Saturday night, while the Underdogs get a visit from Tel Aviv in two weeks’ time.
If Real Housing has any dreams of getting back to .500 in that one to
close out the campaign, it should take a page out of the Kings’ book on
how to play the Sabres at home. Saturday night’s thrill-fest had it all
and, by all accounts, was one in which the visitors played well enough
to pull out what would have been a stunning upset.
The Kraft Family IFL now has a moment to catch its collective breath
and enjoy Sunday night’s clinic from the big-boys in the NFL before
another packed local weekend. The Kings are in Beersheva to face the
still-winless expansion Black Swarm on Friday morning at 10 a.m. before
Saturday night’s 8:45 meeting in Modi’in between the Rebels and host