PHOENIX, Ariz. – The Arizona Rattlers (1-0) started off their 2019 campaign with a 51-21 victory over the Green Bay Blizzard at the Resch Center on Sunday afternoon. Now the Rattlers will welcome the re-branded Cedar Rapids River Kings (0-1) to the Talking Stick Resort Arena on March 3 for their home opener.
In week one, the Rattlers were strong on both sides of the ball. Offensively, quarterback Jeff Ziemba got the start, and Verlon Reed Jr. ended up playing under center the entire second half. Ziemba threw for 97 yards and ran for a score, while Verlon added 51 yards passing and a rushing touchdown.
Rattlers running back Jabre Lolley broke on to the scene with 88 rushing yards and four total touchdowns. His debut would not have been possible if it weren’t for the performance of Arizona’s offensive line. The trio of Chris Boles Jr, Steven Gurrola, and Lamar Mady did a great job at not only opening up running lanes but at protecting the quarterback as well. This group is the same unit that surrendered only nine sacks last season, which was fewest in the Indoor Football League.
Defensively, Arizona was tough throughout Sunday’s game against the Blizzard. Things got rolling with an interception by Rattlers defensive back Phillip Henry, who returned it all the way to the Green Bay one-yard line. The next defensive possession, defensive lineman Josh Gordon broke free from his blocker and sacked quarterback Lenorris Footman in the endzone for a safety. He also added three sacks which was most on the team. The defense continued to make plays all afternoon, and defensive backs Allen Chapman and Devin Cockrell got in on the action each intercepting one pass.
As for the River Kings, their season began with a heartbreaking 47-44 home loss to the Sioux Falls Storm on a last-second field goal. The River Kings came out with a strong first half, highlighted by the play of quarterback Kurt Palandach who threw for 130 yards and three touchdowns in one half. Overall, he finished with four total touchdowns versus the Storm last weekend.
Starting running back Nathaniel Chavious accounted for two rushing scores in week one, while wide receivers Marquel Wade caught two touchdown passes and Jordan Smith hauled in one.
On defense for Cedar Rapids, they were anchored by linebackers Travonti Johnson and Jeff Brach who each finished with five tackles and one tackle for loss. They were able to hold a potent Sioux Falls team to only 215 yards of total offense for the game. It was a solid defensive showing for the revamped River Kings, who now have to face the league-leading Rattlers offensive attack.
The Rattlers led the IFL in home attendance last season, averaging 14,092 fans per home game, and earned the IFL’s Best Fan Base award for the second consecutive year. The Snake Pit will host seven IFL games this season, starting with Sunday’s 3:05pm contest against Cedar Rapids. You can watch the Rattlers take on the River Kings on Your Phoenix CW, or stream it live on YouTube.
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