Arizona Beats Orlando, Orlando Maintains Tiebreaker
In front of 9,628 fans inside Talking Stick Resort Arena, two of the top teams in the Arena Football League played with Arizona (12-3) beating the Orlando Predators (12-3) 62 to 45.
Arizona started out with the ball and drove down the field with Starting Quarterback Nick Davila (26 of 28 for 289 yards with 7 touchdowns) finding Wide Receiver Rod Windsor (9 catches for 87 yards and 3 touchdowns) for a 6 yard score. Kicker Alex Zendejas missed his PAT (his only miss of the night) due to incoming pressure from a Orlando Defender. Orlando responded with a 6 minute drive that ended with Quarterback Bernard Morris (25 of 40 for 4 touchdowns and 1 interception) finding Wide Receiver Larry Brackins for a touchdown. Kicker Mark Lewis was perfect on the night, making Orlando be out in front by a point. Arizona returned fire with a Davila pass to Chase Deadder for Deadder’s lone score of the night. Orlando ended the First Quarter with Morris passing the ball to Brandon Tompkins (12 catches for 141 yards and 2 touchdowns) for a touchdown.
Arizona’s first drive of the Second Quarter was slow, but had lots of action. Running Back Mykel Benson fumbled the ball with help from Orlando’s Willie McGinnis which was recovered by Davila for a loss on the play. Deadder rushed for a loss of 30 yards, and made most of it up the next play with a rush of 28 yards. The drive ended with Davila finding Windsor for a 5 yard strike. Orlando’s next possession was just as long as Arizona’s (both were 6 minutes), but ended with Morris’ pass bouncing off the rebound net and Arizona’s Jeremy Kellem grabbing the loose ball before it hit the ground for an interception. Arizona ended the half with a shortened drive that ended in a touchdown. During the drive, Davila found Deadder who was downed at the 1 yard line. Davila then made Orlando use all of their time outs with short runs. Arizona ended up using a timeout with 10 seconds left in the half for 1 more play. Windsor ended up getting the ball on a designed pitch and reverse run play from 1 yard out to score. The score at halftime was Arizona 27, Orlando 14.
Orlando started the Third Quarter with the ball and continued to lead long time-consuming drives. Morris eventually found Lamark Brown for a 11 yard touchdown. Arizona responded with their own long drive that Davila passing to three different targets, but finding Windsor in the end zone for a 11 yard touchdown. Orlando took advantage of some Arizona defensive confusion and Morris (8 carries for 57 yards and 2 rushing touchdowns) took off for a 36 yard touchdown. Arizona’s offense showed off more of its creativeness with Davila throwing a screen pass to Mykel Benson for a receiving touchdown.
Orlando’s drive ended the Third Quarter and quickly ended in the Fourth Quarter with Morris and Tompkins hooking up for a 40 yard score. On the following Arizona drive, Wide Receiver Maurice Purify fumbled the ball with help from Orlando’s Emanuel Cook. The refs originally called Purify down by contact, but Head Coach Rob Keefe challenged the ruling on the field. After a very short review, the call was reversed and Orlando got the ball on Arizona’s 10 yard line with Goal to go. Arizona’s defense responded by causing four straight incomplete passes by Morris. The turnover on downs by Orlando, along with an Unsportsmanlike Conduct on Orlando’s bench (which moved Arizona up to their 20) made it so Davila could go back to Purify for a 40 yard score with Purify having 3 Orlando defenders trying to tackle him. Orlando got back on the board with Morris having an 8 yard rushing touchdown after being flushed out of the pocket by several Rattlers’ defenders. Orlando then attempted an onside kick which was recovered by Arizona’s Purify. The next play, Davila passed the ball 19 yards to Anthony Amos for a score. Orlando had a decent return with Brackens returning a kick off for 21 yards, but a block in the back flag pushed Orlando back to the half yard line. Orlando got out of the jam by Morris passing the ball to Brackins on first down and had the second down pass fall incomplete, but a flag on Arizona’s Arkeith Brown for Pass Interference moved Orlando up to their 18 yard line. Orlando used clock management to make Arizona use all of their time outs. Orlando used two of their own and with 5 seconds left, kicked a field goal to ensure Arizona didn’t have the tie breaker over them for hosting the Arena Bowl.
Offensive Player of the Game: Nick Davila – Arizona Rattlers
Defensive Player of the Game: Jeremy Kellem – Arizona Rattlers
Playmaker of the Game: Mykel Benson – Arizona Rattlers
Highlight of the Game: Jeremy Kellem intercepting Morris’ pass of the rebound net – Arizona Rattlers
Catch of the Game: Maurice Purify’s 40 yard touchdown catch with 3 Orlando defenders trying to tackle him – Arizona Rattlers