Intriguing races all around the league

It was another jam-packed weekend of action in the Kraft Family IFL with four compelling contests for Israeli football fans to feast their eyes on.

football 311 (photo credit: Renata Rivkin)
football 311
(photo credit: Renata Rivkin)
It was another jam-packed weekend of action in the Kraft Family IFL with four compelling contests for Israeli football fans to feast their eyes on as they ushered in the new year.
A doozy of a double-header in the capital on Thursday night saw the Big Blue Jerusalem Lions outlast the Papagaio Jerusalem Kings 30- 24 in an instant-classic derby duel before the Gush Texas Judean Rebels made it five in a row by dealing the Arthur’s Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres their first defeat of the campaign in a 40-28 high-octane slugfest.
On Friday in Yokne’am, the Real Housing Haifa Underdogs came up with some fourth-quarter magic, overcoming a 10- point deficit to stun the Travel Leaders Beersheva Black Swarm in a 26-24 thriller that gave the Northerners their first (and only) taste of victory in 2010, and just in the nick of time.
“I have played in the IFL on the Underdogs now for three-and-a-half years and this is by far the most satisfying win I have experienced,” a giddy Shahar Yeshurun exclaimed after his two-touchdown showing and late heroics propelled the improbable comeback.
“Let’s hope this is the start of a great second half as we try to make a run to the playoffs.”
Indeed, every one of the eight teams in the league is now in serious postseason contention, with Real Housing (1-5) sitting just one game back of Leo Bloom’s Herzliya Hammers, who were pummeled 60-22 by the Dancing Camel Tel Aviv Pioneers on Saturday night in Holon to cap the busy Week 9 slate.
Tel Aviv’s Jarrod Walerstein continued to run amok, with three more touchdowns and 85 total yards to lead the Pioneers (4-2) to their fourth straight victory in a turnoverfree performance as QB Chaim Schiff (2 rushing TDs) stayed unbeaten as a starter.
Meanwhile, after a comfortable two-month run the Sabres all of a sudden find themselves in a three-way deadlock at the top of the IFL with the Lions and Rebels – all with identical 5-1 records – and the red-hot Pioneers breathing down their neck for first place in the North Division.
On Thursday, the tandem of Alex Swieca and Joe Martisius was just too much for the reigning-champs to handle as the Rebels’ dominant duo had a hand in all 40 points for their team, with Swieca tossing two TDs and running in three and Martisius catching a pair and taking care of all five two-point converts.
The Lions had quite the time trying to corral the Kings in the night’s appetizer, needing a last-gasp drive from QB Itay Ashkenazi in which he connected with Binyamin Schultz for a TD with 23 seconds left to avoid the setback in a game that featured five lead changes.
The Rebels and Pioneers – the two most impressive Week 9 victors – will have very little time to celebrate before they face off against each other on Saturday night at Tel Aviv University in the only encounter of the weekend as the IFL takes some time to catch its collective breath after a wild four days of pigskin madness.
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