Rebels clinch IFL’s 2nd seed with epic rally


The penul­ti­mate full week­end of games in the Kraft Fam­ily Is­rael Foot­ball was an ex­cit­ing one.

On Thurs­day night, the Judean Rebels clinched the No. 2 seed as they over­came a 26-8 third-quar­ter deficit, scor­ing 30 unan­swered points to de­feat the Tel Aviv Pi­o­neers 38-26. In a back-and-forth af­fair on Fri­day morn­ing, the Pe­tah Tikva Troop­ers held off the Beer­sheba Black Swarm 34-30, stay­ing in the race for a first-round home play­off game, and push­ing Beer­sheba to the brink of elim­i­na­tion. Also on Fri­day morn­ing, first-place the Jerusalem Li­ons took care of busi­ness, de­feat­ing the Mazk­eret Batya Sil­ver­backs 36-21 to re­main un­de­feated.

In the game of the week, the Rebels scored first on a 61-yard catch-and-run touch­down to Yoel Hughes to go up 8-0.

Yu­val Fenta cap­i­tal­ized on a pair of picks from Rebels QB Ye­huda Mend­lowitz and ran in two Pi­o­neers TDs be­fore Tel Aviv sig­nal-caller Omri Mizrachi took the ball into the end zone him­self to stake his side to a 20-8 ad­van­tage.

Fenta’s third score of the con­test made it 26-8 with 5:20 re­main­ing in the third quar­ter, but Ch­esky To­mor got the Judeans’ come­back started with a 54-yard pick-six to bring the score to 26-16.

Af­ter Tel Aviv turned the ball over on downs, Mend­lowitz threw a short TD pass to Yoel Hughes to start the fourth quar­ter (26-24). Fenta was a yard short on fourth down on the Pi­o­neers next pos­ses­sion and two long com­ple­tions by Mend­lowitz set up a short TD pass to Zevi Katz to make it 30-26 with 6:36 to play. A 37-yard touch­down from Mend­lowitz to Katz made it 38-26 Rebels with un­der five min­utes re­main­ing to close out the scor­ing.

Mend­lowitz com­pleted 19-of-32 passes for 313 yards, four scores and three picks for the Rebels, while Mizrachi com­pleted just 6-of-36 passes for 67 yards and three in­ter­cep­tions, with a rush­ing touch­down, for the Pi­o­neers. Fenta tied a league record with 34 car­ries for 190 yards and three TDs in a los­ing cause.

The Rebels clinched the No. 2 seed with the vic­tory, while there are nu­mer­ous play­off sce­nar­ios for the Pi­o­neers, as they can fin­ish any­where from third to fifth.

The game on Fri­day morn­ing was an ex­cit­ing, back-and­forth af­fair, and the Troop­ers came out on top, push­ing the Black Swarm to the brink of elim­i­na­tion.

Avrami Farkas com­pleted 18-of-32 passes for 243 yards, two TDs a pair of picks for Pe­tah Tikva, while Matanel Katz com­pleted 13-of-30 passes for 173 yards, three scores and three in­ter­cep­tions, also adding 49 yards and a score on the ground.

The Troop­ers can also fin­ish any­where from third place to fifth place de­pend­ing on a num­ber of out­comes, while Beer­sheba needs Pe­tah Tikva to beat Mazk­eret Batya and to it­self beat Mazk­eret Batya by at least 35 points in or­der to make the play­offs.

Jerusalem, mean­while, im­proved to 9-0 by beat­ing the Sil­ver­backs as backup QB Ezzy Jaski threw for 130 yards and two scores, adding 104 yards and pair of TDs on the ground.

The Li­ons play the Pi­o­neers next week in their reg­u­lar-sea­son fi­nale. The Sil­ver­backs have two games left – vs Pe­tah Tikva and Beer­sheba – and a win or a loss to Beer­sheba by less than 35 points is enough for them to clinch the first play­off

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