Rebels prevail over Pioneers, snap TA’s streak

Rainy contest between marquee teams sees 13 combined fumbles and eight turnovers.

IFL Rebels 311 (photo credit: Adlai Maschiach)
IFL Rebels 311
(photo credit: Adlai Maschiach)
There was only one Week 10 game in the Kraft Family IFL, and the Gush Texas Judean Rebels’ 20-16 edging of the Dancing Camel Tel Aviv Pioneers certainly proved worthy of its exclusive billboard stature.
Yes, there were 13 combined fumbles and eight turnovers between the two teams on a showery Saturday night at Tel Aviv University – not usually the best ingredients for top-quality football.
However, the unpredictable, back-and-forth contest between the pair of tenacious blue-chip clubs kept all those in attendance, and there were plenty despite the weather, on the edge of their seats until the very end – exactly the type of game you want to see as a fan.
“This was a supremely difficult win,” exclaimed a relieved Betzalel Friedman after coaching his Judean team to a sixth straight victory. “I’ve got to hand it to the Pioneers.
They gave us all we could handle. If it wasn’t for the incredible play of our D right to the very end, we wouldn’t have pulled it out.”
Indeed, points-wise, the Rebels were held to less than half of their season average coming in and relied on some timely defensive heroics on multiple occasions to turn the tide in their favor.
There were simply too many game-saving plays to list -– whether from Yoni Kranzler, Uria Loberbom, Gadi Rivkin, Mordy Tryfus, take your pick of Elayyans, virtually the entire defense came up in the clutch – and it took every last drop of that effort to hold off the dogged Pioneers, who came in white-hot as winners of four consecutive by an average of 22.5 points per.
However, even after holding leads in both the first and last quarters, five untimely turnovers were just too much for the Pioneers (4-3) to overcome and was the difference in the end of an encounter that was unbelievably close throughout.
The rain seemed to act as an equalizer between two tightly matched teams that didn’t really need any extra equalizing.
Ultimately, the Rebels scored three touchdowns, while the Pioneers had two and a safety, with each club converting on one of their scores.
Alex Swieca was particularly sharp considering him having to work with a wet ball, and he finished 11-20 for 153 yards and a pair of very pretty touchdowns, to Zach Miller and Kenneth Sharf, respectively.
Powerback/tight end Motti Hazan had his first break-out game with a long fourthquarter gallop for a score in which he broke through at least five attempted tackles and provided the winning points midway through the final period, with the hosts unable to rally late.
“We just lost the ball too much tonight,” quipped disheartened Pioneers’ running back Jarrod Walerstein. “I fumbled one early and it seemed to set the tone for a night in which we just kept coming up a bit too short. But we’ll be back, I’m not worried about this team.”
The IFL looks forward to another busy three-game slate this weekend with Leo Bloom’s Herzliya Hammers (2-4) hosting the Arthur’s Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres (5-1) on Thursday night, the Big Blue Jerusalem Lions (5-1) traveling to Yokne’am to face the Real Housing Haifa Underdogs (1-5) on Friday and the Travel Leaders Beersheva Black Swarm (1-5) hosting the Papagaio Jerusalem Kings in a South Division duel.