On their first game of 2016, the Haifa Underdogs made their way to Ramat-Ha’Sharon to meet with the Hammers for their 2nd match of the season.
The last time the 2 teams met, it was at home for Haifa and the Hammers came short on overtime, giving Haifa a 2-0 record to start the season. On their next game, the Dogs faced last year’s runner up, the Tel-Aviv Pioneers. Haifa was able to sneak with another V on another overtime.
Starting 2016 with a 3-0 record, after defeating 3 major teams, it looked like the team should consider finally changing it’s name from Underdogs. Unfortunately the Dogs streak came to an end on January 7th, 2016.
The team arrived to Ramat Ha’Sharon short staffed, TE Amit Kolton and DT Michael Yanovsky were absent, and LB Niv Medlinger, who suffered a knee injury during practice was out for the game.
Haifa received the ball but couldn’t produce anything on their 1st drive, luckly the defense caused the home team to punt the ball, allowing Williams a brilliant 7 plays drive with a TD in the end, putting Haifa on the board first (7-0).
It was the 2nd quarter and the Hammers had the ball, Ramat Ha’Sharon’s Adi Hakami was intercepted by Nimrod Smith who gave the ball back to Haifa’s Matt Kauffman. On their next drive Kauffman found Amitai Chubinsky for a 10 yards touchdown and Haifa brought up the score to 14-0.
Less than 3 minutes later Hakami answered with his own TD, a 46 yards pass to Jonathan Curran, who reminded the Dogs why you can’t take your eyes of him even for a second. On their PAT attempt, Avi Rosenblaum took it in and narrowed the score to 14-8.
Both teams weren’t able to do much with the ball, causing them to punt to each other.
A minute to halftime, Kauffman connected with Matan Fourier for another touchdown, and Illia Averbuch scored on this 3rd PAT kick of the day, putting the Dogs with 21-8 on halftime.
On their 1st drive on the 2nd half, Hammers’ Adam Kima rused for 46 yards to find the endzone, eventually cutting the lead to 21-14. Just a drive later Kauffman carried the ball in himself for a 6 yards rushing TD, stretching it to 28-14.
With another rushing touchdown a minute later and a successful PAT pass to Curran, the score was now 28-22.
2 drives later the game, the Hammers punted the ball and Haifa received it on their own 1 yard line. A run attempt ended with the Hammers sacking Williams inside his endzone, causing a safety and brining the score to 28-24.
On the 4th quarter, after multiple pass drops and not being able to move forwards, Haifa’s offense froze and gave the ball back to the Hammers.
Finally Hakami found Curran again for another TD pass and later failed on PAT, thus the lead for for the first time in the game within the Hamemrs hands, 30-28.
Haifa wasn’t able to answer and unfortunately their hopes to extend the perfect record shattered at Ramat Ha’Sharon.
Kauffman finished 10/29 for 107 yards with 2 TD passes, 1 rushing TD and an interception. Chubinsky caught 6 for 60 and 1 touchdown. Williams had 19 attempts for 95 yards and 1 touchdown. The Underdogs defense was led by Refael Blum and Guy Halberthal (9 tackles accounted for each of them).
Haifa’s next game will take place on January 30 at Be’er Sheva vs the Black Swarm; it will be a perfect opportunity for the Underdogs staff to try new stuff and for the team’s rookies to gain game experience.
The Underdogs are now 3-1, ranked 3rd in the IFL and the league’s Power Ranking, the realistic goal for the team this season should be for them to snatch the 1st or 2nd seed.