Rebels, Kings, Pioneers, Sabres all celebrate conquests

Hammers, ’Dogs, Swarm, Lions left to lick their wounds after being dealt discouraging defeats in action-packed weekend.

TEL AVIV/JAFFA SABRES quarterback Adi Hakami 311 (photo credit: Adlai Maschiach)
TEL AVIV/JAFFA SABRES quarterback Adi Hakami 311
(photo credit: Adlai Maschiach)
If 50 hours of football frenzy is your cup of tea, the Kraft Family IFL Week 4 was the place to be.
Four games over three days. A Thanksgiving doubleheader in Jerusalem; Friday morning brunch in Beersheva; and the mouthwatering marquee first-place TV matchup to top it all off on Saturday night in Tel Aviv.
Lions, Sabres prevail, both improve to 2-0
With all eight IFL teams playing on the same slate for the first time ever, it was bound to be a wild weekend, and, boy oh boy, did the action deliver full tilt.
On Thursday night in the capital to kick it all off, the Gush Texas Judean Rebels executed a methodical 44-0 annihilation of the expansion Herzliya Hammers behind an exemplary display of offense from quarterback Alex Swieca, who threw for a pair of TDs and ran in another three.
The Papagaio Jerusalem Kings followed that up with their first victory of the season, a tightly fought 31-20 skirmish over the still winless Real Housing Haifa Underdogs on the strength of a fumble-free outing and the IFL’s longest-ever field goal, 41 yards, from the leg of David Brummer.
The Dancing Camel Tel Aviv Pioneers also picked up their maiden triumph, a gutsy 26-16 trumping of the Travel Leaders Beersheva Black Swarm, with Micha Solomon leading the way on defense to deny a spectacular showing in a losing cause from the Swarm’s Koren Cohen, who accounted for all 16 of his team’s points.
That laid the groundwork for Saturday night’s weekend finale, in which the Big Blue Jerusalem Lions and Arthur’s Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres fought toe-to-toe for two-and-a-half quarters in front of a (soon-to-be) Sport5 television audience, before the reigning-champion Sabres accelerated into another gear – partially aided by them knocking out Lions’ QB Itay Ashkenazi – to blow Big Blue out of the water in a 60-42 drubbing.
Sol Rojhani, Adam Zenou and Hammude Kassas put up two TDs apiece while QB Adi Hakami continued his blistering start to the season in an almostperfect 10-15, 167 yards, 3 TD, no-pick performance as the Sabres reasserted their supremacy while improving to 3-0 atop the North Division.
The Lions (2-1) – who received a Heruclean effort from Binyamin Schultz (three touchdowns, 191 total yards) – just couldn’t hang with the high-flying Sabres after they lost their starting signal caller when the score was still a tight 46-42 late in the third.
In truth, both clubs’ defensive units decided to take long lapses mid-game, particularly in the third quarter when the teams put up 42 points between them. All through the first three quarters, the teams traded touchdowns as if they were throwing haymakers in a prize fight and the lead changed hands several times until the Sabres would wrest it away for good.
Ilya Pittel and Schultz provided electrifying 60-yard kickoff returns for scores that kept Big Blue afloat, but the night ultimately belonged to the Sabres, specifically Hakami and his two-TDtriplets, who will all be sharing free burgers and beer courtesy of Mike’s Place...
...Along with Swieca, who this time just couldn’t be denied a spot as one of the players of the weekend with his preternatural ability just shining through in just his third game at the helm with pads on to lead the Rebels (2-1) over the Hammers.
The Orangemen scored early and often, however just as much this win belongs to the D, which compiled a monstrous nine sacks of Herzliya QBs – led by three from Mussa Ellayan – and a pair of interceptions by Eli Boymelgreen.
But for maintaining their penchant for careless penalties for too many yards (75), it was an almost-perfect display all-around for the Judeans, who celebrated the victory with a fresh Thanksgiving bird while feasting their eyes on the doubleheader finale, which saw the Kings earn their first win of the year over the struggling Underdogs (0-2).
Haifa took an early lead on a couple of long gashes by Nir Sadger for the first points of the game, but Eli Skolnik led the Kings back quickly and hit Yaacov Garfinkle for an 18-yard TD to tie the score on the next drive.
Papagaio took the lead early in the second quarter when Skolnik took one into the house from a yard out, but the conversions continued to baffle the Kings and they led 12-6 until two minutes later, when Shahar Yeshurun hit Erez Regev on a 38-yard rainbow to knot the score once again.
However, the Kings’ heart and strong-willed character ultimately shone through, with a 12-play drive culminating in “Big T” Tanenbaum’s one-yard plunge for six points to ice the game and give the Kings a much-needed boost of confidence.
The Kings (1-2) and Underdogs both ended with exactly 210 total net yards of offense, a telling stat in a game that felt neck-and-neck the whole way through until the Kings pulled it out on their final drive to keep the Underdogs as the only winless team in the IFL after the Pioneers (1-2) dumped the Black Swarm (1-2) on Friday morning in Beersheva.
The Black Swarm bookended the scoring but the Pioneers were just too hungry, scoring five times in between to send the crowd home disappointed for a second straight week.
The Pioneers were not about to let another game slip through the fingers and Raphael Blum got the visitors on the board with a tackle in the Beersheva endzone for a safety. On the Pioneers ensuing possession, a healthy array of runs led to Jarrod Walerstein’s first TD of the season with just over a minute left in the half to tie the score at eight and three more unanswered TDs would secure the result.
Beersheva actually outgained the Pioneers by almost 75 net yards overall, but four turnovers and an ill-advised safety proved to be the difference in what could have been an extremely tight encounter.
The IFL now looks ahead to its pair of Week 5 divisional matches, with the Underdogs visiting the Hammers on Friday in the North and the Kings taking on their Southern rival Rebels in Saturday night’s annual Chanuka Bowl at Kraft Stadium.
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