Games We Play - IFL: TA wins first game of season

BJ armstrong 88  (photo credit: )
BJ armstrong 88
(photo credit: )
Every team in the Israel Football League has now cracked the win column on the season following a scrappy 28-20 triumph for the Mike's Place Tel Aviv Sabres over the Dancing Camel Hasharon Pioneers at a rainy Maccabi Fields in Tel Aviv last Friday. The victory, the Sabres' first of the year, was well earned by a determined club which played its first truly complete game of the season, withstanding a courageous 250 total-yard performance by Hasharon's all-league Mike Levy in a losing effort. Things looked bright early for Dancing Camel after Levy took the opening kickoff 61 yards to the 1 yard line on the way to a quick 14-0 lead for Dancing Camel with 4 minutes remaining in the first quarter. The Sabres stayed calm amidst the storm, however, and continued to come hard at the Pioneers and make decisive decisions on both sides of the ball, swarming the ball-carrier on defense and making solid blocks to protect their offensive play-makers and extend their possessions. Asaf Katz was especially ferocious in the first half, seemingly taking part in every single tackle all over the field and finishing with eight on the day. Tel Aviv was successful all game at countering the disguised looks of the Pioneers' defense by working at a speedy tempo. Hakami was effective at utilizing quick counts to limit the pre-snap bluffing of the linebackers and attack Hasharon with several quick throws just to keep the defense unsure and worried about its timing. Touchdowns by three different players on three consecutive drives, culminating with a seven yard reception by receiver Liran Hovav, put Tel Aviv up for good 22-14 at the half. The skies opened up in the third quarter and both sides were careful to protect the ball with safer play-calling to prevent a big turnover. Both quarterbacks were deft at using short throws to running backs and tight ends to counter the soft umbrella scheme being employed by both defensive units. Both teams' defenses, however, were equally as impressive in quickly closing on the ball after the reception and making slight adjustments to keep their linebackers in better position to make plays on the underneath throws. Dancing Camel seemed poised to score what could have possibly been the game-tying points on two separate occasions in the third stanza. First was when Levy, who finished with 197 rushing yards for the game, broke four tackles up the middle and was on his way to the house after a 40 yard gallop. On a heroic defensive play, however, Tel Aviv cornerback Amit Benvenisti managed to poke the ball free at the two yard line and the fumble went out of the back of the endzone for a touchback and a huge turnover. With less than a minute left in the third, the Pioneers made it a 22-20 contest on a second Levy TD, but inexplicably passed over the chance at the tie and attempted an extra point kick, which was no good. Tel Aviv added a score on a Hakami quarterback sneak early in the fourth and was able to hold Hasharon off the board for the rest of the game, ultimately running out the clock with two time-eating drives in the last five minutes. As the final whistle sounded, the heavens emitted an earth-shattering clap of thunder and flash of lightning, as if in applause of Tel Aviv's (1-3) first conquest. Hasharon (1-3) gets an immediate chance to bounce back with a game this upcoming Thursday, January 10 against the Big Blue Jerusalem Lions (4-1) at Kraft Stadium in Jerusalem at 7 p.m+*.