PHOENIX – In front of 12,687 loud fans (the most inside US Airways Center this season), the Arizona Rattlers ended their regular season on a positive note, beating the Portland Thunder 67 to 38, and helped Las Vegas claim the last open playoff spot.
Arizona’s offense started strong with Quarterback Nick Davila (18 completions from 26 attempts, with 5 touchdowns for 165 total yards) throwing a short pass to Rod Windsor (8 catches for 95 yards, with 3 touchdowns), having Mykel Benson (11 rushes for 46 yards, with 1 touchdown) rush the ball a few times, and eventually focusing on Kerry Reed (5 catches for 21 yards, with 1 touchdown) who caught a 4 yard touchdown catch. With Fabrizio Scaccia being injured, Arizona signed Alex Zendejas as an emergency kicker for the game (Arizona’s second time doing this this season). Zendejas did not miss a PAT throughout the entire game. Portland’s offense came out sputtering, with Kyle Rowley (18 completions from 39 attempts, with 4 touchdowns and 1 interception) 1st pass being incomplete and the 2nd snap being a bad exchange with their Center with Rowley recovering the snap in the endzone and Tyre Glasper tackling the downed Quarterback for an Arizona safety. Upon the kickoff, Arizona’s Arkeith Brown returned it for a touchdown, giving Portland’s offense very little time to regroup. Upon Portland’s next possession, Rowley found former Arizona Rattler Jared Perry (7 catches for 79 yards with 1 touchdown) and Duane Brooks (2 catches for 28 yards and 1 touchdown) before the drive fell apart on 4th down. Upon Arizona’s offensive return to the field, Davila found Dan Buckner (10 catches for 113 yards) for a modest gain and also found Windsor for a touchdown. Portland ended up being shut out in the 1st quarter, but was driving down the field when time expired.
Rowley ended up pulling a Quarterback Sneak for his lone rushing touchdown in the beginning of the 2nd Quarter. On Arizona’s next possession, Davila’s main focus was Buckner, but ended up finding Quentin Sims (3 catches for 10 yards and 2 touchdowns) for a quick score. Portland responded with a deep pass to Jamar Howard (6 catches for 101 yards and 1 touchdown) for a quick score. Arizona responded by doing a few quick play passes and letting Benson run it in for a touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff, Perez Ashford recovered the loose ball, but he fumbled the ball and Buckner recovered the fumble in the endzone for another Arizona Special Teams Touchdown. When Portland got the ball, they ate a lot of clock before Rowley found V’Keon Lacey (2 catches for 19 yards and 1 touchdown) for a score, but Arizona’s Anttaj Hawthorne blocked the PAT. Arizona ended the half with Davila throwing short passes to Windsor and Windsor ran into the end zone with no time left in the half.
Upon the start of the 3rd Quarter, Rowley completed a 11 yard pass to Howard, but the drive stalled at Arizona’s 24 yard line. The next play, Benson had the ball pop up on him and he lost control, and Varmah Sonie recovered the ball for Portland to gain possession on their side of the field. Portland again gained ground, but again their drive stalled in Arizona’s side of the field. Eventually, Davila found Windsor for another touchdown. Rowley was forced to hurry passes and the 3rd Quarter ended with him on the turf via a sack by Arizona’s Michael McAdoo.
Rowley ended up getting the ball to Brooks for a touchdown, but the ensuing PAT was missed. Arizona switched quarterbacks, bringing in backup Shane Boyd (8 of 13 with 1 touchdown and 1 interception) who had some success on his 1st drive, but the drive stalled on their 19 yard line. Portland took advantage of the short field by Rowley finding Perry for a touchdown. Boyd returned for the next Arizona possession, but the 1st pass of the drive was intercepted by Portland’s Sonie for a touchdown, but the PAT that followed was blocked and returned by Michael McAdoo, which gave Arizona 2 points. Arizona eventually found the endzone with Boyd at QB, and Sims was the target for the pass. On Portland’s last possession, Rowley got intercepted by Arizona’s Jeremy Kellem, and Benson rushed the ball forward on the following drive to run down the rest of the clock.
Kevin Guy said of the game, “I thought the guys responded well and put in a full four quarter effort. I was really happy with all three phases (of the game). Except for the fumble at the start of the second half, we scored everytime when Nick was in there and we got Shane some quality reps. We got 5 or 6 stops on defense. I was very pleased with special teams. Brown ran a kick back, we had a block extra point that McAdoo took back, and Zendejas came in as an emergency kicker. Usually the team that scores on special teams and defense wins the game.”
Offensive Player of the Game: Nick Davila (Arizona Rattlers)
Defensive Player of the Game: Michael McAdoo (Arizona Rattlers)
Playermaker of the Game: Arkeith Brown (Arizona Rattlers)
Catch of the Game: Rod Windsor TD catch at the end of the 1st half (Arizona Rattlers)
Highlight of the Game: Arkeith Brown kick off return for TD at 8:01 of 1st Quarter (Arizona Rattlers)