Strong Defensive Second Half Leads Rattlers To Victory

PHOENIX, AZ – In front of a crowd of 8,815 loud fans, Arizona showed how hard it is to play in the “Snake Pit”, beating Portland 65 to 47 with a strong defensive effort. 

“Our defense really came to play in the 2nd half,” Rattlers head coach Kevin Guy Said. “We did a good job of pressing up on their receivers and on the backstretch we loosened up a bit.”

In the Fourth Quarter, DB Marquis Floyd caused a fumble and Jeremy Kellem recovered the loose ball to essentially seal the game. 

Conversely, early on In the 2nd Quarter, both defenses caused turnovers, Arizona caused a turnover on downs. Portland responded with an Interception from an array Davila (31/44 for 319 yards, 9 touchdowns and 1 interception) pass.

“The pick kinda woke me up a little bit, {after the pick}, we went out there to try to have fun.” Rattlers MVP QB Nick Davila said after the game. 

The game shifted towards Arizona after DB Jeremy Kellem picked off the 4 yard line and it turned into another scoring drive for Arizona’s Offense.

AZ CENTRAL STORY : http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/arena/rattlers/2015/04/19/rattlers-defense-comes-through-in-victory-over-portland-thunder/26023013/

Vintage Rattlers defense showed up Saturday night, and, after throwing an interception, quarterback Nick Davila showed why he was the Arena Football League’s Most Valuable Player last season.

After four first-half defensive stops that included a goal-line stand from the 1, the Rattlers didn’t get stopped offensively and rolled to a 65-47 victory over the Portland Thunder in front of a crowd of 8,815 at US Airways Center.

“Probably after the interception, I woke up a little bit,” said Davila, who was 31 of 44 for 319 yards and nine touchdowns.

Davila’s interception came with the Rattlers leading 13-6 with less than eight minutes to play in the second quarter. Jack linebacker Byrce Peila, the league’s MVP of last week after scoring two defensive touchdowns in a win against Spokane, read Davila’s eyes and made the interception.

The Thunder (2-2) got down to the 1, before the Rattlers stopped them on four downs, pushing them back two yards in the process.

It was the 14th home win in a row, dating to the 2013 season, for the three-time defending ArenaBowl champions.

Except for the Las Vegas loss, in which the Outlaws returned two missed field goals for touchdowns in a 70-53 outcome, the Rattlers (3-1) have lived up to the preseason defensive hype.

Cornerback Marquis Floyd stripped the ball twice from receivers Saturday, forcing turnovers.

Safety Jeremy Kellem returned a Kyle Rowley interception out of his end zone and into Portland territory that led to a touchdown in the final minute of the first half.

There was pressure up the middle on Rowley, who was 16 of 34 for 182 yards with just three touchdowns, one of which came on the last play of the first half when the Rattlers were in a soft prevent zone and made the score 26-13.

The Thunder were 3 for 7 on third downs and 0 for 2 on fourth downs.

“We only had like two defensive possessions in the first quarter, which is lovely to us, because we get a break,” Floyd said. “But we want to speed the game up offensively so we can have their offense on the field.”

It was third game this season that the Rattlers held their opponent to fewer than 50 points, considered a stalwart defensive effort in the 50-yard Arena game.

The Rattlers gave up only a second touchdown in the half on the last play – a Rowley 31-yard pass to V’Keon Lacey, who sidestepped a defender inside the 5.

“I thought our defense came out and really played well in the first half,” Guy said. “We made some adjustments at halftime, and I thought we were a lot more efficient in the second half. I thought Nick wound up having a pretty good night. We have to play faster. I feel like we’re running too many plays on offense.”

Davila doesn’t normally throw 44 passes in a game, because it usually takes only one or two plays a possession for the Rattlers to get in the end zone.

But Rod Windsor turned in a second consecutive huge game since returning from a pre-season injury that kept him out the first two games. Windsor had 14 catches for 141 yards and six touchdowns, the sixth coming from rookie B.J. Coleman, who finished up in the final minute in relief of Davila.

Kerry Reed, who had three touchdown catches in his first game last week in Cleveland, had another three scores, catching 10 passes for 121 yards.

“It makes my job easier,” Davila said of having Windsor and Reed to throw to. “We’re going to try to get better.

“I have to come out better in the first half to make sure we don’t have these little hiccups.”

The only area in which the Rattlers struggled was special team. Rookie kicker Alex Zendejas, pressed into duty the day of the game because of an injury to recently signed Fabrizio Scaccia, missed four extra-point tries.

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About The Author

William Bristow Will Bristow covers the Arizona Rattlers in his second year with Arena Insider.

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