TA/Jaffa Sabres, Judean Rebels to battle at Israel Bowl

The Sabres and Rebels will once again duel in the sixth edition of the Kraft Family IFL Israel Bowl.

 THE JUDEAN REBELS rallied to beat Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres 370 (photo credit: Adlai Maschiach)
THE JUDEAN REBELS rallied to beat Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres 370
(photo credit: Adlai Maschiach)
A mouthwatering semifinal weekend in the Kraft Family IFL served up a pair of vastly different dishes, with the first course delivering a back-andforth bonanza that went right down to the wire while the second was a high-flying smackdown showcasing a still-undefeated powerhouse popping Cinderella’s fairy-tale bubble.
While the Talpion Judean Rebels pulled off quite the upset to oust the Clal Tel Aviv Pioneers in a gripping 38-34 squeaker, the top-seeded Bourbon Street Tel Jaffa/Jaffa Sabres kept the pedal to the metal in their showdown with the ISD Jerusalem Kings, cruising to a 60-6 conquest and setting up a rematch of a Israel Bowl IV, which the Rebels won two years ago to claim their one and only title.
The Sabres, on the other hand, will come into Friday’s championship seeking their second crown in a row, and what would be a third in four seasons. If they keep up their current form, all 10 IFL teams combined would have trouble beating them.
On Saturday at Tel Aviv University, Jonathan Curran stole the show, catching three of Adi Hakami’s four touchdown passes and taking back a partially-blocked punt to the house for another score and snagging two interceptions to go along with eight tackles and a pass break-up.
While the Kings came in riding an impressive three-game winning streak, even the little-engine-that-could was no match for Mount Everest.
The first of Brandon McDougald’s two TDs on the night put the Sabres up 16-0 before the end of the first quarter while Curran scored his four TDs over the second and third quarters to stake the Redshirts to a 54-0 margin after three.
Looking for the first playoff shutout in IFL history, the Sabres maintained their intensity, and Corey Zinker rumbled into the endzone for a 19-yard score and 60-0 lead with under five minutes remaining.
The Kings were able to record a minor victory, as Eli Skolnik perfectly led Paul Guerrero on a 22-yard rainbow that closed out the scoring and broke-up the shutout bid with under two minutes on the clock. However, the result of this one was determined well before the final whistle, as has been the case in virtually all of the Sabres’ 11 straight wins this year.
Still, their season a resounding success, the Kings players and coaches head into the offseason with heads held up high and already looking forward to the start of training camp in just a few short months.
The same could not be said of the Pioneers’ reaction to their season-ending defeat to the Rebels.
Played in the scorching midday heat at TAU – where the Pioneers had been undefeated on the campaign – Friday’s first semifinal kept up the trend of the first-round of playoff games, with the drama and end-to-end excitement ratcheted up to the max.
Having soundly beaten the Rebels on the same field less than a month earlier, Clal must have come in feeling confident of earning a second-consecutive trip to the Israel Bowl, after last year’s near-miss against the Sabres in the title-game.
Dani Eastman – who finished 13-23 for 131 yards and three TDs passing to go along with 133 yards and two scores on the ground in 25 carries – had the ball in his hands to make a play on all but four of the Rebels’ plays from scrimmage. And the 18- year-old wunderkind was certainly up to the task.
After going into the half down 20- 14, the Rebels got the ball to start the third quarter, and Eastman led the Orangemen down the field, ultimately finding little-used weapon Shai Brill for a 17-yard score and the Judeans’ first lead of the night, 22-20, after the successful conversion.
The ping-pong game continued, with Ron Moscona replanting the Pioneers in front with his second score of the game, before Eastman dashed into the endzone on the final play of the third quarter and hit Doni Foreman on the back chalk-line to put the Rebels up by four heading into the final 12 minutes.
Josh Henry would make sure the Pios wouldn’t go down without a fight, and his third seven-yard TD of the game put Clal back in the driver’s seat, up 34-30 with 10 minutes to go.
That was way too much time to give Eastman, however, and his sixyard scoring scamper and ensuing strike to Kine gave the Rebels the 38- 34 lead they would somehow hold onto over the final six minutes to escape with the gratifying triumph.
And so, the Sabres and Rebels will once again duel in the sixth edition of the Kraft Family IFL Israel Bowl.
The Sabres may be 11-0 and Rebels 7-5, but all that gets thrown out the window when the teams take the field.
The game will be televised live by ONE in Israel and on tape delay by JLTV across 30-million homes in the US. It will also be broadcast online via radio at www.isn.co.il Israel Bowl VI is shaping up to be the biggest football event this country has ever seen. If the action on the field matches the hype surrounding the contest, we could be in an explosive Friday afternoon at Kraft Stadium.
Can the Sabres seal their supremacy? Do the Rebels and their young star have one more miracle left in the tank? Only four more days and one more match until all the answers are clear. It seems like a easy call, but of course, that’s why they play the games.For full Kraft Family IFL standings, stats and schedule, as well as for more information on pigskin in the Holy Land, please visit www.israel-football.co.il