Cleveland, Ohio – The five time World Champion Arizona Rattlers (7-3) extended their National Conference lead with the victory over the Cleveland Gladiators (5-5) by a score of 77-62 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio in front of 11,797 fans.
Both Arizona and Cleveland came into this game with a chance to sit atop of the National Conference, but a strong second half led to the Rattlers taking the big, 2-game advantage.
The Rattlers offense looked like they were firing on all cylinders. Quarterback Nick Davila completed 23 of his 33 passes for 289 yards and nine touchdowns. He did not throw an interception and was sacked once. His efforts earned him the Under Armour Offensive Player of the Game award. Four of Davila’s touchdowns went to Rod Windsor, who caught eight total passes for 86 yards. He was the J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game. Fullback Mykel Benson also got in the end zone three times, twice on the ground and once in the air.
Arizona’s special teams also played a big part in tonight’s big win. Wide receiver Joe Matthews and defensive back Arkeith Brown combined for five returns for 102 yards, averaging over 20 yards an attempt. A forced fumble near the end of the third quarter by defensive end Chris McAllister on kickoff coverage, which was recovered by defensive end Leon Mackey, proved to be the turning point of the game.
The entire first half was a seesaw battle with the Gladiators scoring and the Rattlers responding, the only difference being a missed point after from Cleveland kicker Adrian Trevino.
Cleveland received first and took advantage, scoring on a 17-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Arvell Nelson to wide receiver Collin Taylor. Arizona responded with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Davila to wide receiver Rod Windsor. The Gladiators would close out the quarter on the next drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Nelson to wide receiver Quentin Sims.
The Rattlers scored first in the second with a 13-yard pass from Davila to wide receiver Maurice Purify.
Each team would score four more touchdowns leading to halftime. For the Rattlers, Davila threw two touchdown passes to Windsor, one to wide receiver Chase Deadder, and one to fullback Mykel Benson. For the Gladiators, Nelson threw two touchdown passes to Sims, one to wide receiver Devin Wilson, and one to wide receiver DJ Brandel.
Arizona started the scoring in the third quarter with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Davila to Purify which extended their lead. Cleveland would respond with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Nelson to Taylor. The Rattlers scored again late in the third with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Davila to Windsor. The game finally took a turn in Arizona’s favor when, on the ensuing kickoff, Beavers fumbled the ball and it was recovered by defensive end Leon Mackey. The quarter ended with the Rattlers leading 56-48.
The Rattlers began the fourth quarter with a six-yard run from fullback Mykel Benson. After a four-and-out from the Gladiators, Benson again scored, this time a one-yard scamper.
The Gladiators responded with a four-yard rush of their own by Beavers.
The Rattlers and Gladiators would each score one more time, Arizona with a 17-yard touchdown pass to tight end Michael Simons, and Cleveland with a one-yard rush by Nelson. The final score stood at 77-62 in favor of the Rattlers.
The Rattlers will return home next Saturday, June 11th when they face the conference foe, Portland Steel (0-8). The Steel still has to play the Tampa Bay Storm (1-7) later tonight.
The matchup between the Rattlers and the Steel will take place at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona at 6:00 p.m. PDT, and will be televised on the FOX Sports Network Arizona.
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
Arizona 7 35 14 21 77
Cleveland 14 27 7 14 62
Under Armour Offensive Player of the Game: Nick Davila (AZ)
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game: DeMarcus Robinson (CLE)
J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game: Rod Windsor (AZ)
Cutters Catch of the Game: Quentin Sims (CLE)
AFL Highlight of the Game: Collin Taylor (CLE)
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 http://www.azrattlers.com.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 3rd, 2016
Contact: Peter Garbow, (989) 395-3789
To those participating tomorrow: Get a good night sleep, and hydrate. At 8am it's go time! More information here:… https://t.co/AO1pq69Nlp