A 21 point run that included a Derrick Ross 33 yard rushing TD still wasn’t enough to stop the Arizona Rattlers from stealing one in Jacksonville. The OT win keeps the Rattlers undefeated (4-0) while solidifying them as the top team in the AFL one month into the 2016 season.
Arizona jumped out to a 7-0 lead on the strength of a Mykel Benson 3 yard touchdown on the games first possession. The Sharks quickly answered with a 3 yard Derrick Ross TD of their own. “3 yards and a cloud of dust,” or turf as it were. Though Benson and Ross had good games (3 and 2 TD’s respectively), it was the passing game that took over.
Rattlers QB, Nick Davila (35/50, 390yds, 8 TD’s, 2 int’s) and Sharks QB, Tommy Grady (28/45, 340yds, 8 TD’s, 1 int) put on a show for the fans in Jacksonville Saturday night with a back and forth game that saw just about everything fans in attendance could hope for….well, except for a win of course.
Following a failed 4th down conversion by the Sharks, the Rattlers were able to take a two score lead when Davila hit WR, Maurice Purify for a 29 yard TD. The TD came with just 18 seconds remaining in the 1st half. Remember the time….18 seconds. Grady was able to find Sharks WR, Joe Hills in the back of the endzone with 0:00 showing on the clock to get Jacksonville within 7 heading to the locker room.
The last second score proved huge as the Sharks received the 2nd half kick, and scored just 2 plays later on a Roger Jackson 35 yard reception. Davila threw his first interception of the season on the Rattlers next series, and Derrick Ross immediately made him pay with a 33 yard TD run giving the Sharks their first lead of the game.
The two teams traded punches in the form of amazing WR play for the rest of the game. Hills led the way for the Sharks accounting for all four of Jacksonville’s 4th quarter TD’s. Hills finished the night with 11 receptions, 102 yards, and 5 TD’s. His teammate, Anthony “Tiger” Jones only had 2 TD’s, but added 11 catches while pouring in 144 yards.
On the Arizona side, it was mostly Rod Windsor and Maurice Purify. Purify had 151 yards on only 9 receptions. 5 of those 9 were for Rattlers TD’s. Windsor was the workhorse, catching 15 passes for 165 yards and 3 TD’s of his own.
With just 35 seconds left in the game, Grady hit Hills for the go ahead score. But Sharks kicker, Marc Capozzoli failed to convert the PAT leaving Jacksonville ahead only 6, 68-62.
Benson scored from 5 yards out to tie game up with only :23 remaining. An Arizona PAT would have given the Rattlers the lead, but what fun would that be? Rattlers K, Kenny Spencer missed his PAT as well, keeping the game even.
The Sharks had what looked to be the final possession of regulation, but the kickoff return was fumbled, and the Rattlers recovered on the Jacksonville 5 with just 18 seconds remaining. Remember that time? 18 seconds. Had the Sharks held on to the ball, they would have had the exact same amount of time they had to end the 1st half. A half that ended with a Jacksonville TD. Instead it was Arizona that had 18 seconds to win the game.
Yeah, because this game was THAT easy! On the 2nd play following the fumble, Davila’s pass was tipped up off of the net and picked off by the Sharks sending this wild game into over time.
Arizona took the first possession of OT down the field much like they had all night long, culminating in an 8 yard Purify TD.
The Sharks tried to answer to extend the OT, but Grady’s final pass landed incomplete sending the Jacksonville faithful home with a bad taste in their mouths after what was an absolutely amazing game to watch.
Arizona improves to 4-0 with a home game vs Portland next week. Jacksonville falls to 1-3 and will travel to Tampa Bay.