PHOENIX – In front of 11,106 loud Arizona fans at U.S. Airways Center, the Los Angeles Kiss saw their playoff window shrink a bit, but still have a chance.
Arizona started the game off by including Full Back Mykel Benson (7 rushes for 48 yards with 1 going for a Touchdown) into the offense, which included him having a 21 yard rush for a touchdown. Upon LA’s first play of the game, there was a bad exchange of the snap between their Quarterback Danny Southwick (23 completions out of 45 attempts, with 7 passes going for Touchdowns and 1 going for an Interception) and the Center, and Arizona’s Anttaj Hawthorne coming up with the ball.
The Rattlers turned Kiss’ misfortune into points with Nick Davila (19 catches from 30 attempts with 7 catches going for touchdowns and 1 attempt going for a Pick Six) showing he can be a short rush threat by rushing the ball into the end zone for a touchdown.
The Kiss had some success driving down the field to Arizona’s side of the field on the next possession, but couldn’t convert on 4th down with Southwick passing to Donovan Morgan (7 catches for 141 yards, with 2 catches going for touchdowns), but the pass was broken up by Arizona’s Jeremy Kellem. Upon receiving the ball, Davila found Rod Windsor (7 catches for 155 yards, with 2 catches going for touchdowns) for a quick 33 yard touchdown. LA found themselves attempting to go down the field, but again couldn’t convert on 4th down, with the Southwick pass going through DeMarco Sampson’s (6 catches for 87 yards, with 2 passes going for touchdowns) hands to end the 1st Quarter.
With the ball to start the 2nd Quarter, Arizona’s Offense needed 2 plays before Davila passed the ball to Chase Deadder (6 catches for 65 yards, with 4 catches turning into touchdowns). for a short run in touchdown. Chase said,
“I was feeling good. The ankle injury (that occurred against Portland in Week 12) held up real well and I gotta give credit to the Offensive Line and the Wide Recievers who did some blocking for me because it made my job easier. I caught the ball and everyone was making their blocks and I just ran. Nick is a great quarterback and he helped make me look good. It’s great working with him and he’s such a great leader and he pushes me.”
On the next Kiss possession, there was more trouble. Southwick was sacked by Arizona Defensive Lineman Michael McAdoo and Southwick also fumbling the ball. Arizona’s Tyre Glasper recovered the ball and attempted to move the ball forward, but fumbled it himself and LA’s Tom Gilson recovered the ball and due to the change of possession, LA had a new set of downs. Southwick ended up leading his offense to the red zone until he was rushed and threw a pass off his back foot and Glasper was heads up enough to grab the ball for another LA turnover. Arizona responded with Davila tossing the ball for a pitch behind him and Windsor rushed the ball in past the white line. Upon LA’s next possession, they drove down Arizona’s side of the field, but again had problems on 4th down. With LA looking for any sort of spark, Josh Victorian provided it by picking off Davila and returning the ball for a Pick Six. Coach Guy said,
“With the last play of the 1st half, it’s one of 6 or 7 plays we might run if we have 1 play left in the 1st half or at the end of a game. We do that because we learned our lesson from trying to kick field goals and having the other team return kicks back for touchdowns. It got picked and run back and it got the same result. The offense prepared hard, we worked hard all week with a high-tempo offense. We practiced all week long and I thought they responded well. Defensively we came out and got after them in the 1st half.”
With LA now having a small spark, it provided them with hope, and that’s not something you want to give a team that’s already playing every game like it’s a playoff game already. Upon their 1st possession of the 3rd Quarter, Southwick found Donovan for a deep touchdown pass. With A.J Cruz not suited for the game, Arizona rotated between Akeith Brown and Kerry Reed returning kickoffs. Kerry Reed was deep for a kick return and ended up fumbling the ball and John Victorian again helped out his team by recovering the ball for LA. Southwick lead LA deep into Arizona field until he found Tyrone Goard (4 catches for 36 yards, with 3 catches going for touchdowns) for a touchdown. Arizona answered back with a 2 play drive with Davila passing to Dan Buckner for his lone touchdown catch from 2 catches total. LA responded in kind with their own 2 play drive with Southwick passing to Sampson for a 45 yard touchdown. The quarter ended with Arizona driving down the field, ending up on their own 17 yard line.
The drive didn’t end there, with Davila eventually finding Windsor for a 9 yard strike. With LA starting to be in catch up mode, Arizona helped their cause with a Roughing the Passer call on 4th down, which gave LA a new set of downs and LA made Arizona pay for it with Southwick throwing the ball to Goard for a 29 yard touchdown. Arizona responded with a long drive and Davila passed the ball to Deadder for a 22 yard TD. Southwick had his offense on quick mode, finding Morgan for a 42 yard touchdown on their 3rd play of the drive. LA attempted to recover an onside kick, but failed and Arizona with a short field had Davila pass to Deadder for another touchdown, with under a minute left in the game. LA started to use their timeouts on offense, and the drive resulted in Southwick finding Goard for a 4 yard strike. LA attempted a 2nd onside kick, but once again the attempt was recovered by Arizona. Arizona had Benson rush the ball a few times to use more clock and make LA use their last timeouts and after LA used up their last two timeouts, Davila passed the ball to Deadder for Arizona’s last touchdown of the night, leaving 18 seconds left on the clock. On LA’s last possession, Southwick found Sampson in the endzone as time expired, with LA’s comeback falling short. Coach guy continued with
“In the 2nd half we got sloppy. That points right to a few guys on our defense that every time we get a lead we start playing soft and we gotta address that. Championship teams don’t do that and we need to continue to put teams away. It never got closer than 2 possessions, but it got a little closer than I wanted it to in the 2nd half.”
Offensive Player of the Game: Rod Windsor (Arizona Rattlers)
Defensive Player of the Game: Tyre Glasper (Arizona Rattlers)
Playmaker of the Game: Kerry Reed (Arizona Rattlers)
Catch of the Game: Chase Deadder’s 22 yard Touchdown Catch in the 4th Quarter (Arizona Rattlers)
Highlight of the Game: Tyre Glasper’s Goal Line Interception in the 2nd Quarter (Arizona Rattlers)