Last week, the Haifa Underdogs traveled all the way to Ma’ale Adumim to face the defending champions, the Judean Rebels.
The home team earned their reputation with 2 undefeated regular season before Haifa knocked them off their record on the Dogs 38-28 triumph.
Even with the final score, the game didn’t have a good start, the Dogs lost 2 of their anchors on their defense last season; coach Alan Hearn who played NT last season, and Yuval Fisher, the team’s starting LB who had his season cut short last season due to injury and is still recovering.
2 minutes into the 2nd quarter, the Rebels were leading 22-0. The Dogs had difficulty stoping the home team’s offense, led by Dani Eastman and on offense not connecting on critical plays.
To counter the run-game, few changes were made on defense; Mica Allon moved from Safety to play alongside Niv Medlinger on LB, Amit Kolton and Nimrod Smith got in and played the rest of the game on both sides of the ball. Kolton as NT and Smith as Safety.
After the adjustments, the team was able to stop the Rebels on several plays, and Matt Kauffman found Amit Kolton for a 50 yards touchdown, the defense was able to stop the Rebels once again and Kauffman conntected with Smith for another touchdown. Right before the end of the 1st half, Kolton had his 2nd score of the game; it was 28-20 at half-time.
On the begining of the 2nd half, the Dogs received the ball and Kauffman once again found the endzone, this time to Matan Fourier, the team was not able to bring it in for 2 points and the score was 28-26. On their next offensive attempt, Amit Kolton sacked the Rebels 2nd string QB, Chaim Schiff, forcing a fumble recovered by the Rebels but giving an edge to the Underdogs with them losing much ground.
The Rebels were forced to punt away the ball, and the Haifa team once again scored on once again, the Kauffman-Kolton connection; it was Kolton’s 3rd touchdown of the game, bringing the Underdogs the lead for the first time this evening.
With another great drive on defense, Kauffman received the ball again and put it in Amitai Chubinsky’s hands for a touchdown, puting the Dogs’ lead on 38-28.
4 minutes to the end of the game, a long pass by Dani Eastman was intercepted by Harrison Duke Feanley on the 6 yard line, ceasing the chances of redemption for the home team.
Kauffman finished the game 24 / 36, with 282 yards and 6 touchdowns, earning him IFL’s Week 1 Offensive Player of The Week. Williams had 15 attempts for 63 yards and Amit Kolton finished the game with 8 receptions with 112 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Niv Medlinger led the defense with 9 tackles and 1 pass deflected, Rudy Ratter and Amit Halberthal both finished the game with 8 tackles each.
On week 2 the Underdogs will face the Ramat Ha’sharon Hammers at home, a top 4 team which the Underdogs defeated last season. In order to win that game, changes have to be made and players have to commit to winning. Defense has to improve against the run and the offense has to make a better effort on two-point conversions.