Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Last Night's Game: Lions 36 - Rebels 35

The game at Be'er Sheva and the one against the Troopers.

The team finished the season with 10 wins and no, no lossess with an average of 54 points per game, the highest in the league. And they kept the opposing teams to an average of 21 points per game, fourth lowest in the league.

Pics from previous games -

Gani tackling:

Ned almost the only one in the stands:



Despite both teams’ playoff seeding already set, and a severely depleted Lions’ receiving corps, there was no hiding the fact that both teams really wanted to come away triumphant. The Rebels had their sights set on spoiling Big Blue’s perfect record and even their season series, while on the other side, as much as they were understating the notion, the thought of the league’s first-ever unblemished mark definitely was rattling around somewhere in the Jerusalem players’ heads.

The game began a little sloppily, with Lions’ defensive demon Sean Carano pouncing on an early Joe Martisius fumble and taking it to the house for a quick 6-0 Big Blue lead.

However the defending champs would find their rhythm, capitalizing on a Uri Mangisto pick of Chaim Schiff for their first score and went ahead 8-6 on an ultra-odd but correctly called blocked-XP kick but caught mid-air [although it is claimed he had a kneee on the ground] and run in for two points.

Scoring strikes to Elias Metuko and Jaymes Kine saw the Judeans take what seemed like a commanding 21-6 advantage, but Schiff led his troops back, tossing long TDs to Ori Refaleowitz and Matan Lavi to bring the Lions to within a point.

Things were just beginning to get interesting, however.

Lewis Duker recovered a fumble just before the half and Martisius quickly drove his team downfield before hitting Tani Kramer from three yards out on the last play of the half to put the momentum squarely on the side of the Orangemen.

A tightly waged third quarter saw the Rebels once again take a seemingly insurmountable two-score lead, 35-20, on a short TD catch by Zev Aron, but as anyone with any Lions-Rebels experience knows 15 points is well within range, even with time winding down.

Danny Brill energized the Lions attack, surging forward in big chunks of yards and plowing into the endzone just before the start of the fourth, with Tim Cohen’s second two-point convert making it just a seven-point defecit heading into what was a dazzling final frame.

Ultimately, the fourth quarter was marked by three or four specific Rebels’ mistakes that gave away the game.

The first, a bad snap that Carano recovered in the endzone for his second defensive TD of the night, still had Talpion ahead by one upon the failed conversion.

Martisius then took his team into the Lions’ redzone, and had a first-and-goal opportunity that he squandered by throwing an awfully-timed pick straight into the long arms of Rafi Graben. Still, a strong defensive push led by Duker (10 tackles, fumble recovery, interception and break-up), Uria Loberbaum (9 tackles, a sack and a pass deflected) and Avner Blumoff (7 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries and a sack) kept Big Blue at bay and gave the Rebels the ball back with less than two minutes left.

Forced to punt from deep in their own zone, and with Liran Zamir being spelled by Aron, the fateful snap went just over the punter’s head [I thought it actually went under his legs] and rolling out back of the endzone for the crucial two needed points and the night’s final score. The Rebels still had a sliver of a chance even after a botched onside kick, however a fourth-down incompletion roughing-the-passer infraction on Blumoff with under a minute left gave the Lions a new set of downs and the ability to harmlessly kneel out the game and escape with the number in their loss column still perfectly round.


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