GM/HC Kevin Guy earns 200th victory in career with the win
PHOENIX – The Arizona Rattlers defeated the visiting Sioux Falls Storm 58-40 to improve to 4-0 on the season in front of 12,265 fans inside the Talking Stick Resort Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Not only do the Rattlers now stand in first place of the Indoor Football League standings, but the victory secured Head Coach and General Manager Kevin Guy’s 200th win of his coaching career.
“I’ve felt like we’ve reached these goals as an organization,” said Guy. “I’ve had a lot of good people around me. We’ve hired good people here. Our coaches have been a huge part of it and obviously the players have been a huge part of it because they got to get it done on the field. The players have to go out and execute, and I think that speaks on behalf of our (coaching) staff and what kind of players we’ve recruited over the years, and it speaks to the ownership and what kind of ownership we got. I’m very humbled.”
Quarterback Jeff Ziemba filled in after Verlon Reed Jr. left the game, and he accounted for three total touchdowns versus Sioux Falls.
“They’re one of the best teams in the league,” Ziemba said. “And you got to be happy any time you beat them.”
The Arizona Rattlers held Sioux Falls to only 127 yards of total offense and forced four turnovers. Dual-threat Storm QB Lorenzo Brown Jr. passed for only 86 yards and nine rushing yards.
Defensive lineman Chris McAllister finished with one sack on Brown Jr. and one fumble recovery in the victory.
“Being conscious of [Brown Jr.] when you rush the passer because he’s a guy that will find the escape lane if you give him one,” said McAllister. “So when you’re rushing, you want to beat the guy, but you also have to be aware to not give up contain on the quarterback and give him room to run.”
A 41-yard opening kickoff return by wide receiver Dezmon Epps set up the Rattlers opening drive. Two plays later, Verlon Reed Jr. tossed a nine-yard touchdown pass to Jarrod Harrington who had to leap over his defender to secure the catch. Jimmy Camacho’s PAT gave the Rattlers a 7-0 lead.
The Sioux Falls Storm answered right back on their second play from scrimmage with a 38-yard touchdown pass from Lorenzo Brown Jr. to Brandon Sheperd. Miles Bergner’s extra point was missed, and the Storm were down 7-6 early.
On Arizona’s ensuing possession, Reed Jr. scrambled twice for 20-yards which helped setup a one-yard touchdown scamper by running back Jabre Lolley (his 10th rushing TD of the season). Camacho’s successful extra point pushed their lead to 14-6 in the first quarter.
Sioux Falls however, would respond with a five play, 38-yard touchdown drive. Aided by two penalties by the Rattlers defense, Storm running back Calen Campbell took the handoff eight-yards for a touchdown narrowing Arizona’s lead to 14-13.
On the next Rattlers possession, quarterback Jeff Ziemba’s pass was intercepted by Storm defensive back Matt McKoy (his second interception of the season).
After the interception, the Storm took over on the Arizona 21-yard line, and running back Calen Campbell took the handoff six-yards for a touchdown to give Sioux Falls a 20-13 lead.
The Rattlers would quickly counter with a four play, 25-yard touchdown drive. Wide receiver Dezmon Epps caught two passes on the series which helped set up a 10-yard rushing score for QB Jeff Ziemba. Camacho’s PAT was failed, and the score was all knotted up at 20 early in the second quarter.
On the ensuing Storm possession, they were stuffed offensively. A sack by defensive lineman Ricky Wyatt Jr. forced kicker Miles Bergner to attempt a 54-yard field goal, which he missed short which was returned 42-yards by Dezmon Epps.
Two plays later for Arizona, versatile wide receiver/running back Jamal Miles took the handoff from Ziemba and punched it in from four-yards out for another Rattlers touchdown which pushed their lead to 27-20 with 4:30 left before halftime.
Arizona’s defense was able to hold the Storm to another field goal attempt on their next offensive series, and this time, Miles Bergner’s 38-yard field goal attempt was good to make it 27-23 with one minute before the half.
The Rattlers responded as Jimmy Camacho nailed a 17-yard field goal try to give the Rattlers a 30-23 lead going into the locker room.
Sioux Falls received the opening kickoff after halftime, and immediately coughed up the football on a bad snap. Bandit Davontae Merriweather scooped up the loose ball and ran it in 12-yards for a touchdown. The Rattlers pushed their lead to 37-23 with 13:18 left in the third quarter.
Following the Rattlers defensive score, Storm RB Calen Campbell took the ensuing kickoff 56-yards for a touchdown, narrowing the deficit to seven.
The Rattlers got the ball back, but Lolley fumbled the football after absorbing a hit from Sioux Falls DB Matt McKoy on the first play of the series. The loose ball was recovered by the Storm.
Following the turnover, the Storm had to settle for a field goal attempt after QB Lorenzo Brown Jr. was brought down for a sack by Rattlers DL Chris McAllister. Bergner’s kick was good and narrowed Arizona’s lead to four midway through the third.
Jeff Ziemba connected with Dezmon Epps for 13 yards, and two penalties on the Sioux Falls defensive unit helped set up a two-yard rushing score by Ziemba (his second of the game) to put the Rattlers up 44-33.
On the following Storm possession, they promptly gave the ball back to the Rattlers after a fumble which was recovered by McAllister.
Four plays following the fumble recovery, Jeff Ziemba ran it in for his third rushing score of the game to push Arizona’s advantage to 51-33 early in the fourth.
Storm QB Lorenzo Brown Jr. promptly gave the ball back to the Rattlers after his deep pass attempt was intercepted by defensive back Allen Chapman, his second interception of the season.
Both the Rattlers and the Storm traded turnovers, as both quarterbacks threw interceptions. First, Ziemba’s pass was intercepted by Trey Dickerson, and then Brown Jr’s was snatched by Phillip Henry.
Arizona would capitalize off Sioux Fall’s turnover on the following play when Ziemba found Jamal Miles in the corner of the end zone for his second touchdown of the game. The TD extended the Rattlers’ lead to 58-33 midway through the fourth.
The Storm got back on the scoreboard following a one-yard run by Brandon Sheperd to make the score 58-40 with one minute left in the fourth.
The undefeated Arizona Rattlers will be back in action on Saturday, April 6th at 5:00 p.m. AZT when they welcome the San Diego Strike Force to their first-ever trip to the Talking Stick Resort Arena. The game can be seen on Your Phoenix CW, or streamed live on YouTube.
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About the Arizona Rattlers
The Arizona Rattlers were founded in 1992, and are proud members of the Indoor Football League (IFL). In the two seasons that the Rattlers have been in the IFL, they have won one championship in 2017 and was in the conference championship last season. The Rattlers spent 24 seasons in the Arena Football League (AFL), and in that time made ten appearances in the ArenaBowl, winning in 2014, 2013, 2012, 1997 and 1994. For tickets, call 602-514-TDTD (8383), or visit www.azrattlers.com.