Phoenix, Ariz. – The five-time World Champion Arizona Rattlers (13-3) end the regular season with a win over the Cleveland Gladiators (7-9) by a score of 68-20 at the Talking Stick Resort Arena, in front of 12,823 fans. This win kept the Rattlers perfect at home in the regular season for the second time in three seasons.
The Rattlers jumped on the Gladiators early, with Arizona’s offense, defense, and special teams all contributing to the scoreboard before Cleveland got their first points. The Rattlers would then ride the momentum the rest of the way to victory.
“We wanted to start fast,” said General Manager and Head Coach Kevin Guy. “We scored the first play of the game with a safety and then came right back out, took the kickoff and ran it back for a touchdown. We never took the foot off the gas pedal. I was really pleased with how we came out with energy. I thought Rattler Nation was strong tonight, the crowd was awesome.”
The defense was playing with their hair on fire,” said quarterback Nick Davila. “(We also) made some good blocks on special teams and Amos did the rest. That takes some pressure off of the offense.”
Defensively, the Rattlers played at another level, only allowing the Gladiators to score three times. In total, Arizona forced three fumbles, one interception and had five sacks.
“I thought our defensive line was awesome. The defense was outstanding. I think we had about eight or nine stops,” said Guy. “I thought Glasper had an outstanding game. He’s a physical presence in the middle and the whole defensive line is working well together.”
Linebacker Tyre Glasper played like a man on a mission, recording two sacks and was in Cleveland’s backfield through most the game.
My high school coach passed away this week,” said Glasper when asked what inspired his play. “He was the first guy that told me I could be something in life. I was a terrible kid before I found football and he got through to me. It was a big motivational factor; I wanted to play good for him.”
“I saw a familiar feeling, looking at him before the game,” said Davila. “He’s my brother. I know his pain and he went out there and played his heart out for his coach.”
Glasper’s play earned him the Riddell Defensive Player of the Game Award.
The Rattlers’ offense also had a big night. Quarterback Nick Davila completed 20 of 25 passes for six touchdowns and one interception. His play earned him the Under Armour Offensive Player of the Game award. Five of those touchdowns went to wide receiver Rod Windsor, who earned the J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game award.
“Windsor had five touchdowns,” Guy said. “It’s playoff time. When I start getting text messages from Rod, I know he’s ready to go. I’ve been texting him lately and he’s had his suggestions. I don’t always listen to him, but I know he’s in the right mindset.”
“I’ve been playing for a while, so when it’s playoff time,” said Windsor. “You prepare a little different for the game, so that’s what I’ve been doing, taking every little step to get ready for the game.”
This win puts the Rattlers in position to host ArenaBowl XXIX, if the Orlando Predators (12-3) lose at any time between now and the championship game. Orlando has a bye week this week, and will play their regular season finale next Saturday, July 30th, at 4:30 p.m. PDT against the Philadelphia Soul (12-3).
“We’ve been playing our best football the last few weeks,” said Guy. “We wanted to send a message and not leave any doubt that the ArenaBowl will come through the desert.”
The Rattlers kicked off to start the game, but on the first play from scrimmage, defensive end Rodney Fritz tackled Cleveland’s wide receiver Taylor Collins in their own endzone for a safety. Then, on the ensuing kickoff, wide receiver Anthony Amos returned the kickoff to add six more. The extra point was good. The Rattlers defense then forced a four-and-out, and on the next play, Davila threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Rod Windsor and with just a minute and a half into the game, the Rattlers led 15-0.
Cleveland finally found the back of the end zone with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Nelson to wide receiver Larry Beavers. Arizona responded with a two-yard touchdown pass from Davila to Windsor, and the first quarter ended with the Rattlers leading 22-7.
The Rattlers continued to dominate in the second. Arizona’s defensive back KJ Morton forced a fumble on Cleveland wide receiver Devin Wilson which was recovered by defensive back Jeremy Kellem. The Rattlers would score two plays later from a 28-yard touchdown pass from Davila to Windsor. On the Gladiators next drive, Nelson was sacked by Fritz, who forced another fumble, which was scooped up by wide receiver / linebacker Dan Buckner and carried in for the score.
Cleveland would get their only other touchdown of the half from a 15-yard touchdown pass from Nelson to wide receiver Collin Taylor. The Rattlers would again respond; with six seconds left, Davila threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Windsor. The half ended with the Rattlers leading 42-14.
The third quarter was all Rattlers. Davila threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Maurice Purify. After another four-and-out by Cleveland, Davila threw another touchdown pass to Purify, this time a five-yard pitch and catch. After three quarters, the Rattlers led 55-14.
The final quarter featured quarterback Shane Boyd for the Rattlers. He threw two touchdowns, one to fullback Mykel Benson, the other to Windsor. Cleveland scored their only points in the fourth from a 17-yard pass from backup quarterback Stephen Panasuk to Taylor for six. The final score was 61-20, Rattlers.
The Rattlers go into their final bye week next week, which closes out the regular season. Arizona’s next game will be the Conference Semi-Final Saturday, August 6th at 7:00 p.m. PDT, and will face the Portland Steel (2-13). The game will be nationally televised on the CBS Sports Network.
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Under Armour Offensive Player of the Game: Nick Davila (AZ)
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game: Tyre Glasper (AZ)
Cutters Catch of the Game: Anthony Amos (AZ) 22-yard diving catch in 2Q
AFL Highlight of the Game: Dan Buckner (AZ) 22-yard fumble recovery for TD
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: July 24th, 2016
Contact: Peter Garbow, (989) 395-3789, email@example.com