Phoenix, Ariz. – The five time World Champion Arizona Rattlers (8-3) swept the three game regular season series with a win over conference foe, Portland Steel (1-9) by a score of 76-49 at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona in front of 14,401 fans.
Offensively, Arizona continued to roll, scoring both in the air and on the ground. Quarterback Nick Davila earned the Under Armour Offensive Player of the Game, completing 24 of 33 passes for 270 yards and eight touchdowns. Fullback Mykel Benson scored two touchdowns on the ground. The overall play of the offensive line was also noteworthy.
“The offensive line did a great job of blocking all night,” said Davila. “They didn’t give up any sacks, so that’s always a plus when you’re a quarterback and you can just read the defense and feel comfortable in the pocket.”
Special teams played a big role as well. Wide receiver Anthony Amos returned five kickoffs for 135 yards. He also returned one 54-yards for a touchdown, which was the AFL Highlight of the Game.
“I thought he played faster tonight,” said General Manager and Head Coach Kevin Guy. “Not necessarily on kickoff return but as a receiver, he ran some good routes tonight and as long as he keeps doing that, he’s going to see more playing time.
Kicker Alex Zendejas also played well, hitting 10 of 11 PATs (point after touchdowns), and hitting the bar twice on the kickoff.
“I thought Alex was super,” said Guy. “He hit the bar once or twice on kickoffs, and was 10 of 11 on extra points. We’ve missed one extra point in two games, so I’m pretty pleased where we’re playing there.”
Defensively, the Rattlers welcomed back a familiar face; with defensive back Jeremy Kellem returning to the team earlier this week. Kellem was the GoRVing Defensive Back of the Year last season.
“Just to be able to get back out there on the field was amazing,” said Kellem. “It’s a great feeling to be out there with the team and the crowd; some had posters. It was just a great feeling, something I really appreciated.”
The Steel started the scoring with a 43-yard bomb from quarterback Shane Austin to wide receiver Tom Gilson for six. The point after was good and the Steel led 7-0.
After a 28-yard kickoff return by wide receiver Anthony Amos, the Rattlers responded with a pass from Davila to wide receiver Rod Windsor to tie the game. After the Arizona defense forced a four-and-out, Davila threw another touchdown pass, this time a 21-yarder to wide receiver Maurice Purify. The Rattlers led after the end of the first quarter 14-7.
The second quarter started with another long touchdown pass from Austin to Gilson, this time for 41-yards. The extra point was no good. The Rattlers responded with wide receiver Anthony Amos taking the ensuing kickoff to the house with a 54-yard kickoff return. After the Rattlers defense forced a second four-and-out, Davila threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Windsor, putting the Rattlers up 27-13.
Both teams would take turns scoring for the rest of the half. Portland had three touchdowns thrown by Austin, one to Gilson, and two to wide receiver Jamar Howard. Arizona had three touchdowns thrown by Davila, two to wide receiver Chase Deadder, one to Purify, which was the Cutters Catch of the Game. The half ended with a score of 48-31.
The Rattlers took a commanding lead at the start of the third with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Davila to Windsor, and after the Arizona defense forced the third turnover on downs of the game, fullback Mykel Benson ran 7-yards for another score. The Steel went scoreless in the third and the quarter ended with a score of 62-31.
The teams traded punches in the fourth. Portland scored three times, two passes from Austin, one to Gilson, the other to wide receiver Jared Perry, and a seven-yard rush from Austin. The Rattlers scored twice, once from an 11-yard pass from Davila to Purify, the other a six-yard run from Benson. The Rattlers ended the game on top, 76-49.
The Rattlers big 27-point win kicks off a stretch of games that features four of the next five at home. While Arizona will be happy to be home for most of the next few months, the rest of the schedule only gets harder from here.
“(Philadelphia Soul (9-2)) is coming to our house next week,” Guy said. “I’m sure Rattler nation will be fired up for that. It should be a good home field advantage for us here; get the place rocking. We’re both trying to get the number one seed in the playoffs, and they’re one game ahead of us… It’s a tough road ahead of us we got 5 games left.”
The game will take place next Friday, June 17th. The Soul is coming off a 36-point victory over the LA KISS, earlier Saturday. The game will take place at the Talking Stick Resort Arena at 7:00 p.m. PDT, and will be nationally televised on ESPN2 and streamed online at ESPN3.com or the WatchESPN app on a tablet, smartphone, or streaming device.
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
Portland 7 24 0 18 49
Arizona 14 34 14 14 76
Under Armour Offensive Player of the Game: Nick Davila (AZ)
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game: KJ Morton (AZ)
J.Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game: Anthony Amos (AZ)
Cutters Catch of the Game: Maurice Purify (AZ) TD catch between two defenders end of 2Q
AFL Highlight of the Game: Anthony Amos (AZ) 54-yard kick return in 2Q
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: June 11th, 2016
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