Israel Bowl VI was a season-defining game in every sense as the sixth year of
Israeli tackle football came to a close with the Bourbon Street Tel Aviv/Jaffa
Sabres subduing the Talpion Judean Rebels 48-26 in the latest epic rendition of
the Kraft Family IFL’s championship game.
Friday’s enchanting encounter
at Kraft Stadium in Jerusalem was chock-full of action, and turned into a more
competitive contest than most had anticipated, with the Rebels even holding a
short-lived 3rd-quarter lead before the Sabres turned on the turbo-jets and
coasted to their second-consecutive title while sealing the first undefeated
season in IFL history.
“It really feels fantastic to come away as
champions for the third time in the last four years,” exclaimed TA/J Coach Jon
Sharon, who was ejected late in the fourth quarter for cursing at the referees
even while his team enjoyed a two-score advantage at the time.
to the last four Israel Bowls, and now having avenged our only defeat, it is a
real testament to both the talent and chemistry of this team and to the
staying-power of this franchise. It really is starting to become a true
The Rebels and their 18-year old star, Dani Eastman, threw all
they could at the Sabres, but in the end the sheer volume of combined skill and
experience on the Bourbon Street sideline was simply insurmountable.
always, Adi Hakami was at the forefront of the Sabres’ offense, throwing for 196
yards and 3 touchdowns while not turning the ball over. His 12- yard pass to
Banning Fudge opened the scoring after the Rebels chose to accept a thirdyard
penalty to push the Redshirts further back from their goal-line; to no
Still, Eastman fed Jaymes Kine for a long gain through the air,
before equalizing the match with a 6-yard TD burst and the first quarter came to
a close with the teams knotted at six.
More than 800 people packed into
Kraft on what began as a glorious day before the winds gusted in and the skies
dimmed just as the second stanza was getting under way.
With the action
being recorded for television and radio broadcasts across both Israel and the
US, the crowd in attendance was decidedly pro-Rebels, or perhaps just pro any
team that could give the mighty Sabres a run for their money.
McDougald put the Redshirts back on top with a 2- yard shimmy into the endzone,
although just two minutes later, Eastman found a wide-open Kine for a 24-yard
score to tie things up once again.
Jonathan Curran made his presence
known by taking a 22-yard reverse to the house for an 18-12 TA/J lead before
both sides’ QBs committed critical gaffes going into halftime, with Hakami and
Eastman each finding receivers for apparent TDs, only to have them correctly
called back for having just crossed the line of scrimmage before releasing the
Both coaching staffs made adjustments during the break to account
for what was quickly becoming quite a chippy game, on and off the field, and it
seemed as if both squads themselves were somewhat surprised at where things
stood after 24 minutes of play.
The Judeans started with possession in
the second half, and a long, penalty-aided 15- play drive culminated with
Eastman taking in his second rushing touchdown of the afternoon to even the
encounter, before he flicked a little pass to Doni Foreman up the middle for the
ensuing conversion and a 20-18 Rebels’ advantage with under 17 minutes remaining
in the game.
With the backs up against the wall in a second half for one
of the only times all season, the Sabres responded like gangbusters, with Hakami
tossing a quick-out to Curran, who flew up the sidelines for a 51-yard
catch-and-run TD and cherry-on-top conversion to hand the lead back to the
reigning champions, ultimately for good.
Before the 3rd quarter was over,
Fudge had scored his second touchdown of the game – on a 26-yard scoring
punt-return – and the dynamic playmaker tacked on his third TD to start the 4th
frame on a 6-yard dash.
Down 22 points with less than six minutes
remaining, the Rebels still refused to throw in the towel even as they began to
feel the game slipping away.
Eastman kept on dancing in the backfield
(although the Sabres did manage to sack him 7 times) and he had 24 of the
Orangemen’s 26 rushes for 128 of their 134 yards on the ground. He finished a
pedestrian 14-36 for 136 yards passing with a pair of TDs and one interception,
that being to Curran midway through the 4th at the Sabres goal-line to strike
the nail-in-the-coffin blow to the Judeans’ hopes of a miracle
After Coach Sharon’s ejection, Eastman’s 2-yard scoring strike
to Kine with 33 seconds left on the clock seemed like a curtain-closing
touchdown on the 2012/13 IFL season, however the Sabres still had a final bit of
class left up their sleeves.
After recovering the Rebels’ onside kick, in
an act that can only be described (cleanly) as the height of gamesmanship,
Hakami faked a victory-formation kneel before tossing up a rainbow that Curran
settled under 32 yards later for a final score and the finishing touches of
another masterpiece campaign.
If anything, that touchdown secured the
game’s co-MVP award for Curran, who shared the honor with his teammate, Fudge,
both who had felt somewhat ‘snubbed’ by not being nominated for various
They certainly made their statements to the committee
loud and clear with their play, as Fudge (3 touchdowns in three different ways
to go along with 10 tackles and a sack) and Curran (195 total yards, 3
touchdowns, 4 tackles, pass break-up, INT) left no room for reproach as to their
impact on the Sabres’ successful title defense.
In the end, just as they
had done to each of their previous 11 opponents this year, the Tel Aviv/Jaffa
Sabres undeniably demonstrated their superiority and were able to swat away any
challenges thrown at them.
Content with the bulls-eye painted squarely on
their backs, the Sabres will surely revel in conquering the Rebels and their
back-to-back championships and then retool and come back next season boldly
daring any and all contenders to step up and even try to take their crown away.