PHOENIX – In front of 11,673 fans inside US Airways Center, the Arizona Rattlers (10-2) bested the Orlando Predators (7-6) with strong defensive pressure and influenced QB Nick Davila (24/35 with 221 yards with 6 catches going for touchdowns) to guide the team to a win
Rattlers’ Wide Receiver AJ Cruz was the x-factor for Arizona. The young receiver from Brown University had 9 catches for 62 yards with 2 catches becoming touchdowns, and also 3 rushes for 8 yards and 1 touchdown
“We got stopped a little bit more than I wanted to on offense, but I knew their defense was good. We knew it was going to be a chess match and both teams broke a lot of tendencies tonight and I don’t know if that helped or hurt us. Sometimes you can overthink it. It was two coaching staffs going after each other and playing.”
Orlando started the 4th Quarter receiving pressure from Arizona’s DL Tyre Glasper that only made things go down hill for Rob Keefe’s Predators.
“If you over rush Morris, he likes to step up and take off with his feet if he sees what he doesn’t like downfield,” Glasper told reporters after the game. “We tried to keep the pocket tight, make him pat his feet, and squeeze the pocket.”
Earlier, Orlando started the game off getting the ball and driving down the field, but ended up getting stood up on the Goal Line when OL Michael Simons failed to get in the end zone on 4th down. Arizona responded with a drive down the field with Davila finding Kerry Reed (3 catches for 16 yards with 2 catches going into the end zone) for a touchdown. Predators answered back with a drive of their own and ending with Bernard Morris, 20/40 for 285 with 3 TDs and 1 interception, finding Larry Brackins in the endzone.
To start the 2nd Quarter, Davila passed the ball to Cruz, but the ball was fumbled and recovered by Orlando’s Rod Isaac. The Predators then proceeded to have a 2nd turnover on downs with Morris having 4 consecutive incomplete passes, with Anttaj Hawthorne rushing Morris on 4th down.
With the shortened field, Arizona followed Full Back Mykel Benson (9 rushes for 18 yards and 1 rush becoming a touchdown) into the endzone for a touchdown. Orlando responded with a short drive of their own, with Morris finding Brackins in the endzone for a touchdown. Arizona got the ball with 4:32 left in the 2nd Quarter and ran out the clock, with Davila finding Reed near the goal line, but was stopped short of the goal line.
Arizona received the ball to begin the 3rd Quarter and they made quick work of their 1st possession, scoring by Davila passing the ball to Reed. Orlando then attempted to respond with a long drive of their own, but Morris was picked off by Rattlers DB Jeremy Kellem in the end zone for an interception.
Arizona responded with a quick strike with Davila finding Rod Windsor (10 catches for 123 yards with 2 catches becoming touchdowns) in stride for a touchdown. Orlando attempted to right the offensive ship, but Bernard Morris’ pass to WR Larry Brackins was stripped by Arizona’s Arkeith Brown.
Arizona will hope to rely on their defense again when they travel to Anaheim next week to play the LA Kiss and their offensive attack led by QB Danny Southwick. The game will air on ESPN 2 at 10:00 pm ET.
Offensive Player of the Game: Nick Davila (Arizona Quarter Back)
Defensive Player of the Game: Michael McAdoo (Arizona Defensive Lineman)
Playmaker of the Game: AJ Cruz (Arizona Wide Receiver and Kick Returner)
Catch of the Game: Rod Windsor (Arizona Wide Receiver) 32 yard touchdown catch in the 3rd Quarter
Highlight of the Game: AJ Cruz touchdown run in the 4th Quarter