Lions take control of South Division

Sabres stroll over ’Dogs.

Tackle Football 311 (photo credit: Adlai Maschiach)
Tackle Football 311
(photo credit: Adlai Maschiach)
Week 13 in the Kraft Family IFL featured a displaced doubleheader in the capital in which both acts turned into lopsided affairs.
While the Arthur’s Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres’ 48-16 humbling of the Real Housing Haifa Underdogs in the latenight special was slightly less than astounding, the 40-16 appetizer smackdown laid by the Big Blue Jerusalem Lions on the Gush Texas Judean Rebels left most of the 700 frenzied fans at a hopping Kraft Stadium in shock.
A game that, coming in, looked primed to be a bare-knuckled brawl for South Division supremacy ended up being a good ol’ fashioned (Gush) Texas butt whuppin’.
Big Blue played almost error-free ball, coming in with an air-tight gameplan and executing it to perfection to jump into sole possession of first place in the division with a much more convincing conquest of the Rebels than the seasonopening two-point squeaker.
“They’ve been the best team in the league all season,” said Lions’ coach Yonah Mishaan. “We knew we had to come in ultra prepared to have a chance to beat them. I’m really glad with the way things turned out this time, but I have a feeling this great rivalry isn’t done.”
For now, at least, Big Blue continued its dominance of the Rebels, improving to 4-0 in their lifetime head-to-head, and remaining the only team in the league that has shown the ability to disrupt the Gush Texas offense.
With a mixture of outside blitzes, physical cornerback play, and plain brute strength, the Lions forced the Rebels into three critical fumbles, while not turning over the ball themselves.
QB Itay Ashkenazi continued his sparkling run of late, missing on just six of his 21 pass attempts and throwing for 191 yards and five touchdowns, three to Idan Yaron and a pair to Binyamin Schultz.
On defense, the Lions (7-1) were just as dazzling, racking up six sacks for 38 yards and holding a vaunted Rebels offense to almost 27 points fewer than its average coming in.
Yoni Cooper (10 tackles, 3 sacks) and Scott Eisenberg (20 tackles) led the way, but there was plenty of help all around, including a key Kasey Stewart touchdown on a fumble recovery in the endzone when the game was still tight.
The second game of the night had a similar outcome, with the Sabres (7-1) taking control of their own destiny en route to snagging the North’s first-round bye and the Underdogs (1-7) still staying afloat despite another setback.
In a contest that was postponed from a week previous due to the closing of the field in Yokn’eam, Tel Aviv/Jaffa employed a very balanced and efficient attack, scoring six touchdowns with six different players, three on the ground and three through the air.
Giovanni Nanna (6-11, 58 yds, TD) and Adi Hakami (7-12, 68 yards, 2 TDs and INT) both had solid games under center for the Redshirts, tossing completions to nine different receivers and running the offense with precision and confidence.
The IFL is back to a full slate this week as the postseason nears, with each team having two games remaining on the schedule. The Lions and Papagaio Jerusalem Kings (1-7) will do battle in an always delightful derby on Thursday, while the Underdogs visit the Dancing Camel Tel Aviv Pioneers (5-3) on Friday in a Sport5 special, before the Sabres host Leo Bloom’s Herzliya Hammers (2- 6) on Saturday night at their new digs in Neveh Golan.
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