Phoenix, Ariz. – For the sixth straight season, the five-time world champion Arizona Rattlers (14-3) are on their way to the National Conference Finals, in what has shaped up to be a rematch of ArenaBowl XXVII (2014). The Rattlers will face the Cleveland Gladiators (8-9) for the rights to play in the 29th ArenaBowl.
The Rattlers have faced the Gladiators twice already this season, and have been on the winning side in both contests. The first game was a 77-62 victory in the city of Cleveland in week 10. The second was a 48-point victory (68-20) in the Snake Pit in the regular season finale.
The last time the Rattlers and the Gladiators faced off in the playoffs, the ArenaBowl trophy was on the line. That year, Cleveland was coming off an astounding 19-1 season, while the Rattlers were the two time defending champions. In the end, Arizona easily dispatched the Gladiators by a score of 72-32 to win their third straight championship.
The Rattlers are also coming off a huge 84-40 win over the Portland Steel (3-14) in the Conference Semi-Finals. Arkeith Brown was the J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Week, having two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
Cleveland is coming off a nail-biter. Trailing by five with 40-seconds left in the game, the Gladiators punched it in with a one-yard run by Cleveland quarterback Arvell Nelson to take the lead. Then on the ensuing kickoff, the ball came off the bar, right into the hands of wide receiver Larry Beavers, who carried it into the endzone to take a 10-point lead. LA would score one more time but it was not enough, as the Gladiators would advance to the final.
If the Rattlers advance, they will either face a rematch of ArenaBowl XXIV (2011) when they lost on the last play to the Jacksonville Sharks, or a rematch of ArenaBowls XXV and XXVI (2012-13) when they defeated Philadelphia in two straight seasons.
The National Conference Championship will take place this Saturday, August 13th at 6:30 p.m. PDT at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. The game will also be nationally televised on the CBS Sports Network.
Tickets for this weekend’s match-up are on sale now. Please visit azrattlers.com or call 602-514-TDTD (8383). Memberships for the 2017 regular season are also now available at the ticket office. Memberships start at just $10 and will allow exclusive access to playoff tickets.
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