Israel Bowl V will be a top-marquee Tel Aviv derby in the capital, thanks to
enthralling victories by both the Clal Tel Aviv Pioneers and Bourbon Street
TA/Jaffa Sabres this past weekend in the Kraft Family IFL
While the Sabres overcame an early Saturday scare at Neve
Golan to dispatch Nemo’s Haifa Underdogs 34-12, the Pioneers pulled off the
shocker of the weekend on Thursday night, going on the road to knock off the
top-seeded Big Blue Jerusalem Lions, who had come in with an unblemished 10-0
It wasn’t just that the 66-22 outcome was such a surprise – which
it was, especially considering the 44-20 Lions’ conquest in the regular-season
meeting between the clubs – but moreover, the nationally televised blowout
differential in their club’s favor was not something even the most ardent
Pioneers’ fan had dared to dream of.
“I am still stunned as to how this
happened,” exclaimed forlorn Lions’ coach Yonah Mishaan after his team suffered
the second consecutive 44-point upset at Kraft in as many weeks.
only passed the ball five times all night, and no matter how many guys I put up
on the line, we couldn’t do anything to stop their run. It was pathetic out
there, we definitely didn’t deserve to win and they did.”
Pioneers rumbled for 254 rushing yards and seven scores on the ground, led by
188 yards and four TDs from slasher Elan Bielas in just his third game playing
running back this season.
Tel Aviv field generals Itay Ashkenazi and Asaf
Gelber combined to go just 3-5 passing for 52 yards, with Ashkenazi’s only toss
coming on a successful two-point conversion to Bielas.
Lions’ QB Chaim
Schiff threw more interceptions (3) than touchdowns (2) and completed only six
of his 28 passes, many of which were desperation long bombs after Jerusalem was
already furiously trying to mount a comeback.
Meanwhile, Saturday night’s
Sabres-Underdogs showdown got off to a pulsating start, with the visitors
holding TAJ to a turnover-on-downs on the opening possession before storming
down the field with three first-downs to set up a Chris Clark one-yard TD burst
for the first points of the game.
Things settled down after that, with
each team punting on their next time with the ball, before a trade-off of
interceptions led to the Sabres to taking a lead they would not
The hosts forced another Underdog punt before orchestrating a
chain-moving drive that resulted in another touchdown, this one a 19-yarder
through the air from Hakami to Jon Tzipori.
Haifa was, however, able to
stymie the points-after to keep the deficit at just one score (14- 6), where
things remained heading into the break.
The teams waged a scoreless third
frame, a quarter highlighted by a pair of crucial fourthdown attempts by the
Underdogs, both stopped agonizingly close to the first-down marker and resulting
in pivotal turnovers when the teams were separated by just eight
The Sabres capitalized on the near-miss, taking the ensuing drive
55-yards to cross into the fourth quarter with Adam Zinker notching his second
TD of the day from 13 yards out for a 20-6 Sabres’ advantage.
Not to have
a fork stuck in them just yet, the ’Dogs got a long 34-yard kickoff return from
Barak Katzir, and scored a minute later on a 19-yard dart up the sidelines from
Ran Shani to pull back to within a score with almost 10 minutes
However, Jonathan Curran took back a dagger-in-the-heart 54-yard
kickoff return TD immediately thereafter, with Motti Krauze hauling in the
two-point convert for a 28-12 lead that caused Haifa to press the panic
The Underdogs did get the ball back four more times, however no
team is going to make much hay with three possessions ending in interceptions
and one ending in a punt.
A blocked field-goal just after the two-minute
warning gave Haifa one last-ditch effort for the miracle comeback, but the third
of Yeshurun’s four picks on the day (he completed four times as many passes to
Sabres players as he did to his own teammates) set up one last insurance TD for
TAJ, with Cory Zinker pounding in a six-yarder to close out the scoring and send
the Sabres to their third straight Israel Bowl.
...and then there were
two! The field of 10 has been pared down to the final combatants, both looking
to be the first club in the five-year history of the IFL to be a multiple-time
champion, with the Sabres taking their first title in 2010, and the Pioneers
reigning supreme the previous year.
TAJ swept the season-series, winning
24-6 and 38-12, but all that goes out the window in Friday’s championship
The numbers, stats and storylines can be discussed ad nauseum. But
now it’s game time, the moment to strap up the cleats, don the helmets, and
leave it all on the field.
Pioneers-Sabres. Israel Bowl V. Noon on
Friday at Kraft Stadium.
Believe me, Tel Avivians and IFL fans around the
country – it’ll be well worth the trip to Jerusalem!