CLEVELAND — Arizona quarterback Nick Davila threw for 352 yards and seven touchdowns and wide receiver Rod Windsor caught 13 passes for 168 yards and four touchdowns as the Rattlers (2-1) outlasted the Cleveland Gladiators (2-1), 49-41, in front of a home opener crowd of 12,776. For the Gladiators, quarterback Shane Austin threw for 230 yards, four touchdowns, and three interceptions, while wide receiver Dominick Goodman led the way receiving, catching nine passes for 66 yards and three touchdowns.
Arizona struck first after a Cleveland turnover when Davila threw a 15 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Kerry Reed. The Gladiator offense answered quickly however when it only took two plays before fullbackJeramie Richardson took a hand-off and walked into the end zone untouched for the score. A missed extra point made the score 7-6 Rattlers. Davila didn’t waste time, finding veteran wide receiver Rod Windsor for a 34-yard score to put Arizona on top 14-6 with 8:07 left in the opening quarter.
On Cleveland’s next drive Shane Austin guided the offense on a five-play drive that resulted in a 7-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Dominick Goodman. Kicker Adrian Trevino’s extra point pulled the Gladiators within one, 14-13. To open the second quarter, Davila and Windsor hooked up for a touchdown once again, a 12-yarder, to put the Rattlers up 21-13 with 10:51 remaining in the half.
After the Gladiators turned the ball over on downs, Davila tossed a 30-yard touchdown pass to Kerry Reed for his second score of the night. On the following drive, the Arizona defense came up with their second interception of the half as defensive back Jeremy Kellem picked off Shane Austin to end the Cleveland drive. With time winding down in the half and Arizona driving, defensive back Terrance Sanders picked off a Nick Davila pass and returned it 50 yards down the sideline for a much needed Gladiators touchdown. The extra point gave Arizona a 28-20 lead at the break.
To open the second half, Arizona marched down field on a six-play drive that culminated in a 6-yard touchdown pass from Davila to Windsor, Windsor’s third touchdown reception of the night. The Gladiators offense responded when wide receiver Amarri Jackson caught a 19 yard touchdown pass from Austin to pull within 35-27 with 7:37 left in the third quarter.
After the two offenses swapped turnover’s on downs, Arizona quarterback Nick Davila found Windsor once again for a 21-yard touchdown pass to cap off scoring in the third quarter. The touchdown catch was Windsor’s fourth of the night to push the Rattlers lead to 42-27.
On the first drive of the fourth quarter, the Gladiators offense used a nine-play drive capped off by a 5-yard pitch and catch touchdown from Austin to Goodman. However, a missed extra point put the Gladiators down nine, 42-33, with 10:02 remaining in the game. After a failed onside kick attempt, Arizona quarterback Nick Davila found wide receiver Kerry Reed on the first play of their drive for a 17-yard touchdown, putting Arizona on top 49-33. On the ensuing drive, Shane Austin was able to connect with Goodman for a 3-yard touchdown pass. The reception was Goodman’s third touchdown of the night. A successful two point conversion made the score 49-41 with 5:06 remaining in the contest.
On Arizona’s next drive, a field goal try on fourth and goal from the 1-yard line by kicker Jeremy Shelleymissed right. The field goal would have put the Rattlers up by 11 with under a minute to go. However,Shane Austin was intercepted four plays later by defensive back Jeremy Kellem, his second interception of the night.
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game: Arizona QB Nick Davila
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game: Cleveland DB Dominic Jones
J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game: Arizona WR Rod Windsor
Cutters Catch of the Game: Arizona WR Rod Windsor’s one-handed TD catch (1st)
AFL Highlight of the Game: Cleveland DB Terrence Sanders’ pick-six (2nd)