ARENABOWL CHAMPIONS, AGAIN
Rattlers capture back-to-back Championships
Orlando, FL – The Arizona Rattlers became the first team since the 1995-96 Tampa Bay Storm to win back-to-back Arena Football League ArenaBowl Championships only team in League history to beat the same team twice in consecutive years as they posted a 48-39 win over the Philadelphia Soul on Saturday afternoon in ArenaBowl XXVI at the Amway Center.
Arizona got on the board first as Nick Davila and Maurice Purify picked up right where they left off in ArenaBowl XXV with an eight-yard touchdown. The Soul quickly answered with a touchdown of their own when Dan Raudabaugh found Ryan McDaniel to tie it at seven a piece. On the rattlers next possession, Davila threw it off the net and right into the arms of Philadelphia DB Rayshaun Kizer. But Rattlers DB Vigil Gray did what he’s done all year and snagged the pick in the end zone.
Rod Windsor started the second half off with a great one-handed catch in the back of the end zone to put the Rattlers back on top. Philadelphia drove down the field and a 14-yard catch by McDaniel got them to the one where Derrick Ross rushed it in to knot it at 14-14. After a loss on the play, Rattlers QB Nick Davila found himself in the end zone on third down but a completed pass to Purify resulted in a 47-yard touchdown to put Arizona up 21-14. After tying the game on a Tiger Jones TD, Philadelphia tried the on-side kick. The Rattlers recovered on the nine but had to settle for an 18-yard field goal from Garrett Lindholm. The Soul was unable to find the end zone and went for the FG but it was blocked by Anttaj Hawthorne giving the Rattlers once last shot before the break. Davila passed it off to Windsor for what was initially ruled a touchdown before a challenge and review overturned it and sent the Rattlers into the locker room up by just three at 24-21.
McDaniel opened the second half with a score to give the Soul the lead for the first time in the game. But Kerry Reed joined the scoring parade on a 19-yard pass from Davila to make it 31-27 Rattlers. A Jeremy Kellem interception set up a yet another Davila to Windsor TD on third and goal. The two teams exchanged touchdowns, as Tysson Poots and Jones each found the end zone, and a second rushing TD from Ross pulled the Soul within six at 45-39.
With under a minute to go the Rattlers marched their way toward the end zone but a fumble on the one yard line gave Philadelphia the ball back as time wound down. The Rattlers defense came up big with a turnover on downs and Garrett Lindholm sealed the win with a 24-yard field goal with 23 seconds left on the clock.
Windsor was named ArenaBowl XXVI MVP and offensive player of the game with 10 receptions for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Gray earned defensive player of the game honors.
Davila finished the game going 20-of-29 for 315 yards, six touchdowns and one interception. Purify hauled in four catches for 83 yards and two scores.
On the Philadelphia side, Raudabaugh went 31-of-51 for 306 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. McDaniel and Jones accounted for the Soul passing TDs with two each, while Ross capped of the rest of the scoring with two rushing touchdowns.
Rattlers Head Coach and general Manager, Kevin Guy, is now the sixth coach to win multiple ArenaBowl titles and second to win them back-to-back.
It was no easy road to repeat. The Rattlers kicked off the 2013 season with an ArenaBowl XXV rematch against the Soul, and then had to work their way through the tough West Division with a target on their backs. Arizona finished the regular season 15-3 only to meet conference foes San Jose and Spokane again in the first two rounds of the playoffs. But they proved once and again that they were the team to beat.
About the Arizona Rattlers
The Arizona Rattlers are the back-to-back 2012 and 2013 ArenaBowl World Champions and are proud members of theArena Football League (AFL). ArenaBowl XXVI marked the Rattlers eighth appearance in the AFL Championship Game where they have earned Arena Bowl titles in 1994, 1997, 2012 and 2013.
For ticket information please call (602) 514-TDTD (8383) or visit www.azrattlers.com.
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