Lions, Sabres prevail, both improve to 2-0

Another weekend, another dose of pulsating pigskin action, as a pair of inter-divisional battles were waged in the Kraft Family IFL.

Ehud Epstein 311 (photo credit: Adlai Maschiach)
Ehud Epstein 311
(photo credit: Adlai Maschiach)
Another weekend, another dose of pulsating pigskin action, as a pair of inter-divisional battles were waged in the Kraft Family IFL, with the defending Israel Bowl finalists each emerging triumphant to improve to 2-0 on the young season.
On Thursday night in the capital, the Big Blue Jerusalem Lions rode a turnover-free outing to claim a 20-14 victory over the Dancing Camel Tel Aviv Pioneers in a game that looked destined to go right down to the final second until an ill-timed mental mistake by the visitors brought an abrupt end to the drama.
The next day down South, the Travel Leaders Beersheva Black Swarm were humbled by the Arthurs’ Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres in a 34-6 thrashing that saw the reigning champions reach the endzone in every quarter and hold the hosts off the scoreboard until the final minute of the match.
Pavel Ezrohi ran in two firstquarter touchdowns and Adi Hakami threw for another couple of scores to propel the Sabres on the road as Beersheva was unable to repeat its success from an opening-night conquest of the Papagaio Jerusalem Kings.
Rookie QB Tal Avivi finished a pedestrian 12-26 for 62 yards and a consolation TD pass on a day which not much went right offensively for the Swarm (1-1) , who were simply unable to manufacture ways to move the chains against an unyielding TA/J defense that gained confidence as the game progressed.
On Thursday at Kraft Stadium, the Lions got on the board first when kick returner Ilya Pittel displayed his deceptive speed on a 42-yard punt return for a touchdown barely two minutes into the contest.
Micha Solomon accounted for both Tel Aviv TDs, the first on a patented Pioneers disguised handoff to sprint up the sideline 44 yards for six points, and the second from three yards out that was converted by Kobi Nimrod to make sure the game was a close six-point affair heading into the break .
The second half turned into a real defensive standoff, with neither team budging an inch and no points ultimately being recorded.
The tension kept on rising as the seconds ticked away and, with no timeouts remaining, the Pioneers had to go into scramble mode. With the ball on the Big Blue 13 and just 40 seconds left in regulation, everyone in the crowd was on the edge of their seats.
On third-and-three, Nimrod carried the ball a couple of yards but was unable to get out of bounds. With the clock running, and erroneously thinking that Nimrod had picked up the first down, Pioneers veteran QB Yoni Mayzel made a decision that likely kept him up most of the weekend, spiking the ball on what was actually fourth-andone for a turnover on downs.
The gaffe gifted the Lions the chance to kneel out the game on one play and walk away with their second tight home victory out of two games so far, with things not getting any easier for the three-time finalists, who visit the Sabres on Saturday night in a marquee matchup that will be attended by Sport5.
This weekend features the busiest slate in IFL history with all eight team in action.
On Thanksgiving Thursday, in great football tradition, there will be a doubleheader at Kraft Stadium, with the Judean Rebels (1-1) hosting the Herzliya Hammers (1-0) to kick things off at 7 p.m., immediately followed by the Kings (0-2) taking on the Underdogs (0-1).
The Pioneers (0-2) are in Beersheva on Friday, with Big Blue in Tel Aviv on Saturday night to close out what is sure to be a wild three days that you won’t want to miss.
For more information about the IFL and tackle football in Israel, please visit