After playing seven of their first ten games on the road, the Arizona Rattlers (7-3) are finally coming home to the Talking Stick Resort Arena for a two game stretch, facing the Portland Steel (1-8) this Saturday, and the Philadelphia Soul (8-2) on the following Friday.
Saturday’s game against the Steel will be the third and final time the two teams will meet in the regular season. The Rattlers are currently 2-0 against Portland, outscoring them by a score of 148-49 (99 points). This, however, is not the same Steel team that the Rattlers faced early this season. Quarterback Shane Austin returned to the team mid-May, and the team has been playing better with him under center. Since taking over, the Steel pushed the Cleveland Gladiators (5-5) to overtime, led the LA KISS (4-5) in the 4th quarter before losing late, and throttling the Tampa Bay Storm (1-8).
The Rattlers, meanwhile, finally get to play in the friendly confines of the Snake Pit, and look to use last week’s win over the Gladiators as momentum to drive the second half of the season. Arizona’s win on Saturday gave the Rattlers a commanding two-game advantage for the conference title with only six games left in the season. Quarterback Nick Davila earned the Under Armour Offensive Player of the Week award in that game completing 23 of 33 passes for 289 yards, nine touchdowns, and no turnovers. Wide receiver Rod Windsor also stood out, earning the J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game honors for his four touchdown receptions.
The Steel are coming off their first win of their season over the Tampa Bay Storm. The game was never in doubt, with the Steel holding a 21-7 halftime lead and scored 47 points in the second half to finish the game with a 68-35 win. Austin completed 19 of his 36 passes for 139 yards and five touchdowns.
While the Steel’s offense is finally beginning to click, Portland’s defense has also been trending up since the last time they played the Rattlers, and now rank first in total defense. The Rattlers, however, still have the top scoring offense in the AFL, and will look to continue their league leading pace.
The Rattlers will look to get one step closer to clinching the conference championship on Saturday, while the Steel will come in to Phoenix trying to make up some ground. Saturday’s game will be at 6:00 p.m. PDT at the Talking Stick Resort Arena. The matchup can also be seen on FOX Sports Arizona Plus, and can also be streamed online at ESPN3.com or the WatchESPN app on a tablet, smartphone, or streaming device.
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