Blue 30 - Red 23
The 10th Annual Paul Blank Invitational Football Game took place on November 22, 2007 at the Jewish Day School in Rockville, Maryland. Before thirty spectators, the largest crowd ever assembled to watch a PBI contest, the Red and Blue teams pitted against each other were comprised of mixed rosters of JDS alumni from 1982-2007. The opening ceremonies were kicked off with a special rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by up-and-coming R&B star Johanna Paretzky, fireworks, and a variety of refreshments, including Sienna’s kosher pizza and Uncle Dan Fulop’s homemade hot chocolate. David May (’04), the third-string kicker at the University of Maryland, was appointed kicking duties for both teams.
After receiving the opening kickoff, the Blue team faced a third-and-10 from their own 25yd line. Noah Zimmerman (’99) completed a 10yd out to Dan Fulop (’99) to keep the drive alive. Two plays later Zimmerman hit a streaking Ariel Oxman (’99) down the left sideline for a 40 yard touchdown. Starting quarterback and Red team captain Elliot Totah (’98) misfired on four straight passes, giving possession back to Blue. Using short passes to move the ball, Zimmerman methodically drove his team into scoring range. Working underneath the Red team’s coverage with accurate throws to Michael Feldman (’06) and Ilan Fulop (’02), the drive finally stalled when a wide open D. Fulop dropped Zimmerman’s third down pass. David May kicked a 25yd field goal to give the Blue team a 10-0 lead.
The Red team faired much worse on their next few offensive possessions as the Blue team’s swarming defense set the tone which would last throughout the game. Facing a ferocious pass rush from the Blue team’s defensive line of D. Fulop, Asaf Nagler (’99), Jon Green (’99) and Ari Jacobovitz (’02), Totah and second string quarterback Jon Leener were forced to scramble, barely avoiding several sacks. While the Red team qb’s ran for their life, the Blue team’s stifling secondary blanketed the Red team’s star receivers David Ochs (’02), Yossi May (’02), and Jesse “The Instant Classic” Dymond (’03). After Phillip Avigan (’04) broke up a deep pass to Ochs, the Red team chose not to punt on 4th down. Daniel Manerbi (’02) made them pay, intercepting Leener from his safety position. Manerbi looked as though he would take the gift into the endzone, however, an inadvertent whistle by the referee nullified the score. No matter as the opportunistic Blue team capitalized on the turnover, scoring quickly on a 30yd touchdown pass from Zimmerman to Manerbi. David May’s second extra point gave blue a commanding 17-0 lead with only one minute to go before halftime.
That's how the half should have ended. But the red team unleashed a fine two-minute drill, highlighted by wide receiver Yossi May’s two first down runs off reverses. Quarterback Totah made PBI history, when after a completion in bounds, hurried his team to the line of scrimmaged and executed the game’s first spike, stopping the clock with 8 seconds. David May’s 28yd field gold finally put the Red team on the board, 17-3. On the ensuing kickoff, Ilan Fulop had trouble corralling the ball, and Yossi May recovered for Red with just three seconds on the clock. May nonchalantly converted another field goal, this one from 45 yards, to close the gap to 17-6, with the Red team set to receive the second half kickoff.
Following the halftime ceremonies the Red team, hoping to counter the Blue team’s pass rush, made a switch at quarterback and handed over the reigns to Jon Leener. Leener, the one time PBI referee, was unknown amongst most veterans of the game; however younger players vouched for his quickness and quarterbacking abilities. Playing like Houdini in cleats, Leener did not disappoint. On the first drive of the second half he carried Red into Blue territory with some elusive runs, several times escaping would be sacks. When the drive finally stalled David May was called upon, and delivered a 34yd field goal to put Red within eight at 17-9. Whatever inspiration the turn of events gave Red was quickly doused on Blue’s first series. Hoping to demoralize Red with a long, time consuming drive, Zimmerman went to his “elephant” formation. With most of his roster’s size on the offensive line, Zimmerman called his own number, rushing several times up the middle for first downs. When Red began putting eight men in the box Zimmerman ran outside, using D. Fulop as a blocking back and outlet receiver in the flat. After two short completions to Nagler and Jacobovitz, Zimmerman culminated the drive with a 15yd touchdown pass to Oxman. The extra-point kick put Blue ahead comfortably 24-9.
Leener was unable to continue his comeback magic, and the Blue pass rush registered several sacks, batted passes at the line and finally forced an interception to Ariel Oxman. Despite Oxman’s twenty yard return, the Blue team could not capitalize on the possession and turned the ball over when Eric Horowitz (’02) forced Noah Zimmerman to fumble. Yossi May recovered the fumble and raced 15 yards before being tackled out of bound by Ariel Oxman, which drew an unsportsmanlike penalty and ten more yards. Red made another quarterback switch, inserting Horowitz, who mixed short runs and passes to lead a quick touchdown drive. Horowitz hit Leener with a two-yard touchdown pass, but Red missed the two point conversion and was still down by two scores at 24-15. Following a short possession by Blue, the Red team regained possession deep in its own territory. On third down quarterback Ben Hamburger (’04) was pressured heavily and threw an ill-advised pass over the middle, right into the waiting hands of Ariel Oxman. Oxman returned his second interception of the half 35 yards for a touchdown and Blue once again lead favorably, 30-15. After the teams exchanged scoreless possessions and with time running out, Red went to their fifth different quarterback of the game. Mark Krakauer was next up in Red’s revolving door of quarterbacks, and the savvy veteran had the hot hand coming off the bench. Krakauer connected with Totah for several first downs before hitting Yossi May with an 8 yard touchdown pass. Tight end Andrew Schwartz (’03) caught the two point conversion bringing Red within a touchdown at 30-23. Blue was able to recover the onside kick, but decided not to run out the clock. Using all three of their timeouts, Red regained possession with one second on the clock and enough time for one last desperation pass. Krakauer’s hail-Mary pass was batted down by Zimmerman and Oxman, and the Blue team’s win was preserved.
MVP: Ariel Oxman (4 catches for 75yds, 2 int for 55yds, 1td)
PBI firsts: Red team executes first spike to stop the clock.