– March 17, 2012
The ARIZONA RATTLERS home opener against the MILWAUKEE MUSTANGS was everything one expected and more. QB NICK DAVILA (25 of 36, 342 Yds, 9 TD) once again lit up the scoreboard, and showcased why the Rattlers are the defending National Conference Champions.
The first quarter started out slow, and the quarter came to an end with a score of 14-13 Rattlers. FB ODIE ARMSTRONG (2 Rush, 8 Yds, 1 TD) scored first for the Rattlers on a one-yard run, then WR MAURICE PURIFY (9 Rec, 120 Yds, 4 TD) followed with a twenty-one yard reception from DAVILA. Each team scored on their respective possessions, but the biggest story of the night evolved right after the Mustangs first touchdown. DL MARCUS PITTMAN (3 Tackles, 1 Blocked PAT) would spell doom for the Mustangs special teams unit. He blocked newly acquired, Mustang K LINDSEY WOLFE’s PAT, and this would end up being a consistent woe for the Mustangs new kicker.
The second quarter is when things started to take off. DAVILA threw three touchdowns in this quarter, all to different receivers; Rattlers WR GLEN FOX (7 Rec, 115 Yds, 2 TD) for twenty-nine yards, another to WR ANDRAE THURMAN (3 Rec, 53 Yds, 1 TD) for twenty-four yards, and lastly to WR MAURICE PURIFY for nine yards. The Mustangs scored four times in the second quarter, but once again they could not convert their point after attempts. Two missed kicks, one failed two-point conversion, but they did convert one two point conversion, bringing the score to 39-35 Mustangs at the half.
RATTLER QB DAVILA starts it up again in the third quarter hitting FOX for a six yard pass, putting the Rattlers up 42-39. LB KEVIN McCULLOUGH then intercepts Mustangs QB GINO GUIDUGLI (28 of 38, 364 Yds, 5 TD, 1 Int), which leads to another touchdown pass to PURIFY, from DAVILA. The Rattlers took a chance on the following kickoff by attempting an onside kick, but failed to recover due to an illegal touch. The Mustangs scored after that, but again failed to convert on the two-point conversion. The crowd starts to notice the trend of failed point after attempts now. This quarter did not end well for the Rattlers because Purify fumbled giving the Mustangs a chance to score. The third quarter ended with a score of 45-48 Rattlers.
The start of the fourth quarter began with a Mustangs touchdown, but once again it was followed by a missed PAT. DAVILA responded by throwing a strike to WR KERRY REED (5 Rec, 46 Yds, 2 TD) for a six yard touchdown. The Mustangs answer back, but once again fail to convert the PAT, and tried an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff. The ball was illegally touched, and that call was challenged by the Mustangs, but the play stood. Rattlers ball, and another touchdown from DAVILA to REED, bringing the score to 57-63 Rattlers with 3:09 left in the fourth. The Mustangs answered back, and then things got interesting with the score at 65-63 Mustangs, at :27 left on the clock. Once again the game was in DAVILA’s hands and he came through in the clutch by hitting his favorite target of the night, MAURICE PURIFY, for a one yard pass that featured an amazing grab as well. That catch gave the Rattlers the lead and the win, 71-65.
To top off this night NICK DAVILA passed KURT WARNER on the AFL All-Time Passing List, moving from 30 to 28.
The OFFENSIVE PLAYER of the game was MAURICE PURIFY, DEFENSIVE PLAYER of the game was DA’MON MERKERSON, and the IRONMAN was VIRGIL GRAY.
Other special events of the evening included the Rattlers new mascot, rappelling down from the ceiling and being introduced to the cheering fans by the Team Ambassador, Fang. A “Name the Mascot” contest was initiated, and fans were invited to go to the www.azrattlers.com website, to enter their favorite name.
The Rattlers have a Bye week next week, then travel to Kansas City to take on the Command on Thursday 3/29/12.