Jacksonville, Fla. – The five time World Champion Arizona Rattlers (4-0) triumphed over the Sharks in overtime Saturday night at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida by a score of 75-68 in front of 8,354 fans.
The Rattlers and the Sharks was unable to decide the game in 60-minutes, and had to play some bonus time, with Arizona coming out on top. This was the first time the Rattlers have had to play in overtime since the first game of the 2014 season (45 games).
On offense, Rattlers Quarterback Nick Davila earned the J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game award for throwing for 390 yards and eight touchdowns. He did, however, throw his first two interceptions of the season. Fullback Mykel Benson had another all-arena type game rushing for 29 yards (4.1 yards per rush) and three touchdowns.
Defensively, the Rattlers came up big late in the game, with a forced fumble on a late fourth quarter kickoff by linebacker / wide receiver Kerry Reed, and an interception by Arkeith Brown in overtime to end the game. Allen Chapman also had a big game, tallying 5.5 tackles and 3 pass breakups. Chapman earned the Riddell Defensive Player of the Game.
It was a seesaw battle through much of the first half, with the Rattlers scoring, and the Sharks responding. The first quarter featured back to back rushing touchdowns, first by Arizona’s fullback Mykel Benson, followed up by Jacksonville’s fullback Derrick Ross. Rattlers quarterback Nick Davila ended the scoring in the first half with a 41-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Maurice Purify.
The second quarter began with a seven yard touchdown pass from Shark’s quarterback Tommy Grady to wide receiver Anthony Jones. Davila responded with a six yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Rod Windsor. Grady once again knotted the game up with a 14-yard pass once again to Jones for six.
The Rattlers were temporarily able to put some distance between themselves and the Sharks when Benson was able to score on a two yard rush. Arizona was then able to force a four and out, and on the next play, Davila threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Purify.
The Sharks were able to get back in the game with a last second touchdown pass from Grady to wide receiver Joe Hills, which was the Cutters Catch of the Game. Hills also earned the Under Armour Offensive Player of the Game Award. The Rattlers led at halftime 34-27.
The third quarter belonged to Jacksonville. It started with a quick 35-yard strike from Grady to Hills for the score. Four plays later, Davila was intercepted for the first time this season by defensive back LaRoche Jackson. The Sharks were then able to capitalize with a 33-yard touchdown rush by Ross, taking their first lead of the game.
The Rattlers were able to close out the third with a four yard touchdown pass from Davila to Purify. The third quarter ended with both teams equal at 41.
The two teams again traded blows in the fourth, with the Sharks scoring three touchdowns on passes from Grady to Hills, and the Rattlers scoring on three passes from Davila to Windsor (2) and Purify (1). With 53 seconds to go, the game was all tied up at 62.
On the Sharks next drive, Tommy Grady threw a 9 yard pass with 35 seconds left in the game to Joe Hills for the touchdown to take the lead. However, the Jacksonville kicker Marco Capozzoli missed the extra point, opening the door for the Rattlers. On the ensuing possession, Mykel Benson rushed in for his third touchdown of the night, but Rattlers’ kicker Kenny Spencer also missed the point after. On the next kickoff, Rattlers linebacker Reed forced Sharks return man David Hyland to fumble the ball, and was recovered by defensive back Marquis Floyd.
With a short field, the Rattlers looked to end the game, when Davila threw his second interception of the game in the end zone with six seconds remaining. In an attempt to end the game, the Sharks tried a hook and lateral, which was fumbled by Hills, and recovered by Reed, who returned it to Jacksonville’s 6-yard line. However, the clock showed all zeros and the game would go into overtime with a score of 68-68.
The Sharks won the toss but differed, kicking the ball off to the Rattlers. The Rattlers would capitalize, scoring in five plays with a pass from Davila to Purify.
Jacksonville would not be able to respond, when on fourth down, Brown would intercept a pass from Grady to end the game.
The Rattlers will return to Phoenix, Ariz. next Saturday, April 30th and face the Portland Steel for the second time this season. Arizona opened the season with an 80-28 win in Portland. The game will take place at the Talking Stick Resort Arena at 6:00 p.m. PDT, and will be nationally televised on the CBS Sports Network.
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 OT Score
Arizona 13 21 7 27 7 75
Jacksonville 7 20 14 27 0 68
Under Armour Offensive Player of the Game: Joe Hills (JAX)
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game: Allen Chapman (AZ)
Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game: Nick Davila (AZ)
Cutters Catch of the Game: Joe Hills (JAX) 4 Yard TD Pass to end the Half.
AFL Highlight of the Game: Derrick Ross (JAX) 33 Yard TD Run.
About the Arizona Rattlers
The Arizona Rattlers have won five ArenaBowl championship games and are proud members of the Arena Football League (AFL). ArenaBowl XXVII marked the team’s ninth appearance in the Championship game, winning in 2014, 2013, 2012, 1997 and 1994. For tickets, call 602-514-TDTD (8383), or visit www.azrattlers.com.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 23rd, 2016
Contact: Peter Garbow, (989) 395-3789, firstname.lastname@example.org