Phoenix, Ariz. – The five-time World Champion Arizona Rattlers (12-3) extend their league leading win streak to six with a win over the Orlando Predators (12-3) by a score of 62-45 at the Talking Stick Resort Arena, in front of 9,628 fans.
A strong second quarter defensively and an efficient offense kept the Rattlers out front for most of the game.
“They were trying to slow the game down, play for one or two stop and win the game in the 40s,” said General Manager and Head Coach Kevin Guy. “At the end of the day, that’s not our style.”
Rattlers quarterback Nick Davila had his most efficient game of the season, completing 26 of 28 passes for seven touchdowns and no interceptions. He earned the Under Armour Offensive Player of the Game award.
“Nick was sharp tonight,” said Guy. “He did a great job of preparing himself and taking what the defense was going to give us. We tried to make it a physical game and we did make it a physical game.”
“We came up with a good game plan,” Davila said. “Receivers did a good job of making plays, and the offensive line did a good job of blocking. It’s a team effort and it allowed me to be successful; to get into a rhythm and pick them apart.”
Defensively, Arizona made big stops when they needed it. In the second quarter, Jeremy Kellem picked off Orlando quarterback Bernard Morris off the net in the endzone, halfway through the second, which was the AFL Highlight of the Game. Overall, the Rattlers defense had a sack, seven pass breakups and a fumble recovery.
We played good up front, at the linebacker position, and the DBs as well,” said Kellem. “Our focus was to go out there and play Rattlers’ football, we knew we needed to win this game.”
With this win over Orlando, Arizona is now riding a league leading six game win streak with just one game left to play this season.
“I like where we’re headed, I like how we’re peaking,” Guy said. “I like the football that we’re playing. I think the players are buying in to what we’re asking them to do.”
The Rattlers and Predators went back and forth in the first, with Arizona scoring on two passing plays, the first from Davila to wide receiver Rod Windsor, the second from Davila to wide receiver Chase Deadder. Orlando scored on two passing plays, the first from quarterback Bernard Morris to wide receiver Larry Brackens, and the second from Morris to wide receiver Brandon Thompkins. The difference in the quarter came from a missed point after (PAT) from Rattlers’ kicker Alex Zendejas. The first quarter ended with the Predators up 14-13.
The Rattlers defense came up big in the second, holding the Predators scoreless. Arizona scored twice in the second, with Davila throwing a three-yard touchdown pass to Deadder, and Windsor rushing for a 1-yard score with five seconds left in the half. After two the Rattlers led 27-14.
Both teams once again traded scores in the third. The Predators scored from an 11-yard pass from Morris to wide receiver Lamark Brown, and a 36-yard scamper from Morris. The Rattlers scored off two touchdown passes from Davila, the first an 11-yard pass to Windsor, the second, a 9-yard pass to Benson. The Rattlers led 48-21 after three.
Orlando scored early in the fourth with a 40-yard touchdown pass by Morris to Thompkins. The Rattlers responded with a 30-yard pass from Davila to Purify, who dragged three defenders into the endzone with him for the score, which was the Cutters Catch of the Game.
“That’s what I do,” said Purify. “That’s the style of football I play, try to get yards after the catch.”
The Rattlers then extended their lead with a net recovery off the kickoff by wide receiver Anthony Amos. Benson would score on the next play with a two-yard rush. Orlando responded with an eight-yard rush by Morris. The Rattlers scored one more time with a 19-yard pass by Davila to Amos.
The Rattlers needed to win by 19 to take the tie breaker from the Predators. So, down by 20, Orlando kicked a field goal with five seconds left in the game to maintain the tie breaker.
“They didn’t play for the win, they just wanted to play for the point spread,” said Guy. “At the end of the day, they still have to beat Philly and we still have to beat Cleveland, that’s all we have control over. I told the team not to worry about the point situation all week long, but if the opportunity presented itself then we would try to go for it.”
The Rattlers will close out the regular season next Sunday, July 24th, against conference the conference foe Cleveland Gladiators (7-8). The Gladiators are coming off a disappointing two-point loss to the LA KISS Saturday night. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN2, or streamed online on ESPN3.com or the WatchESPN app on a tablet, smartphone or streaming device.
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Under Armour Offensive Player of the Game: Nick Davila (AZ)
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game: Jeremy Kellem (AZ)
Cutters Catch of the Game: Maurice Purify (AZ) 30-yard catch dragging three defenders for TD
AFL Highlight of the Game: Jeremy Kellem (AZ) net INT
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.