PHOENIX, AZ – Before the game began inside US Airways Center (aka “The Snake Pit”) 12,304 fans stood in quiet unison as the Arizona Rattlers did a moment of silence for a beloved fan named Richard Rodriguez, commonly referred to by fans as “Rattlerman” passed away.
With Nick Davila (18/30 for 275 yards with 9 of the catches becoming touchdowns) back as Quarterback, the Rattlers still were not 100% as Markee White has been sidelined with a broken back and is out for the season. The timing was a bit off for Nick, as the team turned the ball over on downs.
Nick stated, “It felt good to get back out there with my brothers. You gotta get into a rhythm and gotta come ready to play.”
Tampa Bay’s offense also had a sluggish start with Quarterback Jason Boltus (22/46 for 308 yards with 7 catches becoming touchdowns and 3 becoming interceptions) being sacked by Michael McAdoo in which Boltus lost control of the football and Anttaj Hawthrone recovering the ball for Arizona. Davila started to find his rhythm and lead Arizona to a quick score with a pass to Chase Deadder (6 catches for 91 yards with 5 catches becoming touchdowns). Boltus helped Tampa Bay answer right back with a touchdown pass to Julius Gregory (6 catches for 109 yards and 4 catches becoming touchdowns). Nick continued to show that his timing was coming back with a 4 play touchdown drive with Kerry Reed (6 catches for 89 yards and 2 catches becoming touchdowns) catching the pass in the endzone. Coach Guy said about Davila, “For his 1st game back in 5 weeks, I was waiting to see how he was going to react to being hit for the 1st time. His timing will come back in time.”
Tampa started the 2nd Quarter by scoring on the drive with Boltus passing the ball to Phillip Barnett (4 catches for 60 yards with 2 catches becoming touchdowns). After a long kickoff return by A.J Cruz, Davila made his 2nd touchdown pass to Reed. Upon Tampa Bay’s next several possessions, there were 2 interceptions thrown by Boltus (both caught by Jeremy Kellem) and 2 turnover on downs. Arizona took advantage of the short field situations when possible. The 1st interception by Kellem was a touchback, and Davila did a screen pass to Mykel Benson (2 catches for 35 yards) who ran for 25 yards, then was hit against the boards and got helped off the field. The next play, Davila found an open Deadder for a touchdown. The next possession, Davila started to throw to Rod Windsor (5 catches for 68 yards and 2 catches for touchdowns), but again found Deadder in the endzone for 6 points. With a short field, Davila found Windsor for a 2 yard touchdown. Arizona ran out the clock with their last possession after Kellem’s 2nd interception also being a touchback being firmly in control 41 to 14.
Tampa Bay opened up the 2nd half better than they ended the 1st half, with Boltus finding TT Tolliver (4 catches for 45 yards with 1 becoming a touchdown) in the endzone. The PAT by Kicker Craig Peterson (2/4 on PATs) was missed. Arizona’s Offense picked up where it left off, with Davila passing to Windsor and he scored. Boltus found Barnett in the endzone for the 2nd time, and once again Peterson missed the PAT. Davila was a bit off on the next drive, which caused a turnover on downs. Tampa Bay;s drive continued into the 4th Quarter in which they capitalized on this opportunity by Boltus finding Gregory in the endzone for a touchdown. Tampa Bay then attempted a 2 point conversion which failed (Tampa bay was 1/3 on 2 point conversions).
Tampa Bay then attempted an onside kick, but the ball ended up out of bounds, which gave Arizona a short field to work with. Davila found Deadder inside the white line for a completed touchdown pass.
Coach Guy said about Deadder, “I wanted to see him at wing. He does a good job of getting the ball. We’ve been looking for him to step him game up a little bit with Markee (White) going down.”
Tampa Bay answered back with a long pass from Boltus to Gregory, who hooked up again on the following 2 point attempt. Tampa Bay kicked the ball deep for Arizona to attempt to drive down the field, but Davila found Deadder wide open and Deadder went all the way for a 45 yard touchdown. The ensuing Tampa Bay possession, Marquis Floyd intercepted the ball for Arizona and Cruz (1 catch for 10 yards and 3 rushes for 20 yards which 1 resulted in a touchdown) ran the ball into the endzone. Boltus did his best to keep Tampa Bay in the game offensively, again passing to Gregory for a touchdown. By then, it was already too little, too late as Arizona ran the clock out for a victory.