Rattlers headed for second United Bowl game in three years
GLENDALE, Ariz. – The six-time World Champion Arizona Rattlers (15-0) moved one step closer to their seventh title on Saturday as they defeated the Nebraska Danger (8-8) 62-45 in the Intense Conference Championship in front of 13,579 fans at Gila River Arena.
The win sends the Rattlers to the 2019 United Bowl where they will face the Sioux Falls Storm (12-3) in a rematch of the championship game from 2017. Head Coach and General Manager Kevin Guy commended his players on their efforts in the win.
“I’m extremely proud of the guys,” Guy said. “We came out and started fast, that’s what we wanted to do. Jump on these guys fast and execute.”
Now the focus shifts to Sioux Falls, who will make their 10th consecutive appearance in the United Bowl after eliminating the Iowa Barnstormers (12-3) 52-50 on Saturday.
“It says something about the leadership in their organization and how they always get to this game every season,” Guy said. “I think we’re seven out of the last nine in getting to the championship so you’re looking at two of the best franchises in the country. It’s going to be a great matchup.”
QB Drew Powell and RB Jabre Lolley each had three rushing touchdowns for Arizona in the win. Powell also went 12-for-16 passing for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
For Nebraska, QB Tommy Armstrong went 11-for-21 passing for 110 yards, five touchdowns. WR Eric Thomas caught four touchdown passes and had 42 receiving yards.
Defensively, DB Dillion Winfrey and DB Davontae Merriweather both had an interception for the Rattlers, while DL Nikolaus D’Avanzo had 2.5 tackles for loss.
DB Gregory Dent Jr. led the Danger with six solo tackles. DL Chris Martin had one tackle for loss.
After Nebraska’s first drive came to an end with an interception by Winfrey, Arizona drove down the field and scored the game’s first touchdown on a 3-yard run by Lolley.
The Rattlers got the ball back on another interception by Merriweather, and Powell hit WR Jarrod Harrington with a 14-yard pass one play later to make the score 14-0.
The Danger answered with a 49-yard kickoff return by WR Mike Tatum.
Arizona bumped their lead back to 14 early in the second quarter with a 3-yard carry by Powell.
Nebraska responded as Armstrong found Thomas for an 18-yard touchdown pass.
Powell connected with Harrington for a 9-yard touchdown pass to put the Rattlers ahead 28-14.
The next Danger drive resulted in a successful 38-yard field goal by K Diego Marquez to cut the Rattlers lead to 11.
Lolley got his second rushing touchdown with an 8-yard run to put Arizona ahead 35-17.
The Rattlers got the second-half kickoff and Powell scored on a 30-yard run to increase the lead.
Armstrong completed a 2-yard touchdown pass to Thomas, but the two-point conversion failed to make the score 42-23.
Powell added another rushing touchdown, this time from 7-yards out, to put Arizona up by 26.
Armstrong connected with WR Johnny Jackson IV for a 20-yard touchdown pass, then completed a pass to Thomas for a successful two-point conversion to make it 49-31.
The Rattlers scored again on the ground with a 4-yard touchdown run by Miles to add to the lead.
Nebraska replied with a 5-yard pass from Armstrong to Thomas, but failed on the two-point attempt to put the score at 56-37 with 6:35 left in the game.
On their next drive, Arizona used up almost five minutes before punching it in on a 2-yard carry by Lolley.
Armstrong found Thomas for another passing touchdown, a 10-yard completion, and RB Davonte Sapp-Lynch ran in the two-point try with 26 seconds left.
The Rattlers will host the Storm for the 2019 United Bowl on July 13 at 6:00 p.m. Arizona time at Gila River Arena. Fans can watch the game live on YouTube.
About the Arizona Rattlers
The Arizona Rattlers were founded in 1992, and are proud members of the Indoor Football League (IFL). In the two seasons that the Rattlers have been in the IFL, they have won one championship in 2017 and was in the conference championship last season. The Rattlers spent 24 seasons in the Arena Football League (AFL), and in that time made ten appearances in the ArenaBowl, winning in 2014, 2013, 2012, 1997 and 1994. For tickets, call 602-514-TDTD (8383), or visit www.azrattlers.com.
# # #