Glendale, Ariz. – The five-time World Champion Arizona Rattlers (15-4) lost in ArenaBowl XXIX to the Philadelphia Soul (16-3) Friday night by a score of 56-42 at the Gila River Arena, in front of 13,380 fans.
The Rattlers had their worst start of the season, falling down 21-0, but fought back to tie the game late in the game, but a sack and forced fumble on Rattlers quarterback Nick Davila, put the game out of reach.
“We got behind early,” said General Manager and Head Coach Kevin Guy. “We came out and fumbled on the one yard line. I thought our guys showed great character trying to get back in the game. We blocked that extra point. Nick got hit in the pocket and the ball popped out, just unfortunate.”
The season may have ended on a down note, but the Rattlers showed a lot of character to get as far as they did with the amount of season ending injuries that they have endured.
“It says a lot about this locker room to get to this point,” said Guy. “A lot of teams would have never got to this point in the playoffs with the amount of injuries, and we just kept finding a way to stay in it.”
Arizona Rattlers WR Maurice Purify added nine receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Philadelphia Soul WR Shaun Kauleinamoku led the receivers with eight receptions for 110 yards and three touchdowns.
Arizona Rattlers QB Nick Davila completed 23-of-38 passes for 281 yards and four touchdowns. Philadelphia Soul QB Dan Raudabaugh finished the game completing 20-of-36 passes for 278 yards and six touchdowns.
Arizona won the coin toss to start the game, and deferred to the second half. The Soul offense started off with a quick 16-yard pass from Raudabaugh to Reynolds to put the Soul on the board. K Tommy Frevert’s kick was good and with 12:36 to play in the first quarter, the Soul led 7-0. On the Philadelphia goal line, a rush attempt by FB Mykel Benson was forced out of his hands by LB Beau Bell and tossed to Soul defensive back, Dwayne Hollis for a 49-yard touchdown. Kick was good and with 9:00 remaining, the Soul stretched their lead 14-0. On Frevert’s kick-off, the ball bounced off the net and was recovered by Tracy Belton, adding six more points for the Soul. With the made PAT, Philadelphia remained in the lead 21-0, with 7:55 to play in the first quarter. Davila connected with Purify on a 16-yard touchdown pass and with the made extra point, the Rattlers still trailed 21-7. In the final minutes of play, Raudabaugh found McDaniel on a 22-yard pass and the first quarter closed with Philadelphia remaining in the lead, 28-7.
The Rattlers kicked off the second quarter with a one-yard run by Benson. Extra point was good and with 13:16 to play in the first half, the Rattlers trailed 28-14. Raudabaugh found Reynolds in the end-zone for a 25-yard touchdown the PAT was good. With 10:25 to play in the half, the Soul kept the lead, 35-14. On the next Rattlers drive, Davila’s pass was intercepted by DB James Romain but the Soul were unable to complete the first down. The Rattlers capitalized on this and Davila handed off to Benson for a 1-yard touchdown run. Pertuit’s kick was good and at the end of the first half, the Soul kept their lead, 35-21.
The Soul kicked off to begin the second half of the game. Davila immediately connected with Windsor on a 3-yard touchdown pass, closing the Rattlers margin 35-28. The Soul responded on a 12-yard pass caught by Kauleinamoku. Kick was good and with 4:38 remaining in the third quarter, the Soul led the Rattlers, 42-28. Frevert’s on-side kick attempt was recovered by Arkeith Brown, putting the Rattlers in position to score. Davila found Windsor for a 2-yard touchdown pass and with the made extra point, the Rattlers trailed 42-35. McDaniel fumbled on a 28-yard pass and at the end of the third quarter, the Soul led 42-35.
On their first drive of the fourth quarter, Davila connected with Purify for a 6-yard Rattlers’ touchdown. The kick was good, and with 14:09 left in the game, the Rattlers tied up the game 42-42. Raudabaugh quickly reacted with an 11-yard pass to Kauleinamoku and the Soul regained the lead, 48-42. DL Jake Metz caused a forced fumble and recovered the ball, giving the Soul possession with 5:46 to play. Raudabaugh connected again with Kauleinamoku for a 30-yard touchdown pass. The Soul completed the two-point conversion and with 3:03 left, the Soul remained in the lead, 56-42. Davila and the Rattlers were on the verge of making it a one possession game, when Romain came up with an interception in the end zone with 0:48 seconds left to seal the game as the Soul ran out the clock to win.
“Congratulations to Philadelphia,” said Guy. “I thought they played a hard game. They had a good team, we felt like they did matchup with us well. We thought we were going to give them a ball game and we did. We had a chance to go up there in the fourth quarter and take the lead, but we fell short.”
Under Armour Offensive Player: Arizona WR Maurice Purify
Riddell Defensive Player: Philadelphia DB Tracy Belton
AFL Playmaker: Philadelphia WR Shaun Kauleinamoku
Cutter’s Catch of the Game: Philadelphia WR Shaun Kauleinamoku 30 yard TD catch 3:55 in 4th Qtr.
AFL Highlight of the Game: Philadelphia DB Dwayne Hollis fumble recovery with 49 yard TD in 1st Qtr.
MVP: Philadelphia WR Shaun Kauleinamoku
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.