In front of 11,874 fans at Talking Stick Resort Arena, Arizona (11-3) beat Jacksonville (5-8) 69 to 67 to help their chances of hosting an Arena Bowl at home.
Arizona started the game with Nick Davila (25 of 34 for 255 with 9 touchdowns and 1 interception) leading his team down the field. Davila eventually found Mykel Benson for a 7 yard touchdown catch and Alex Zendejas made the PAT to start the game Arizona up.
Jacksonville answered back with Quarterback Tommy Grady (29 of 47 for 344 yards and 10 touchdowns) finding Anthony “Tiger” Jones (10 catches for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns), but Kicker Anthony Wolfe missed the PAT. Arizona extended their lead with Davila finding Rod Windsor (10 catches for 108 yards and 6 touchdowns) for a 36 yard score.
Zendejas extended the lead further with the added PAT point. Jacksonville’s next possession resulted in a fumble by Rodney Fritz sacking Grady and Arizona’s Dimetrio Tyson recovered the ball at midfield. The quarter ended with Arizona on Jacksonville’s 8 yard line with goal to go on 3rd down.
Arizona cashed in the drive one play later with Davila finding Windsor for his second score of the night. Zendejas made the following PAT, and Arizona was ahead 21 to 6. Jacksonville started to crack down on Arizona’s lead with Grady finding Joe Hills (11 catches for 170 yards and 5 touchdowns) and Wolfe making the follow-up PAT. Arizona’s next possession ended suddenly with Jacksonville’s Alvin Jackson intercepting Davila’s pass to Maurice Purify.
Jacksonville then had a slow drive that ended when Grady passed the ball to Reggie Gray (6 catches for 39 yards and 2 touchdowns). Wolfe’s PAT was good, and Jacksonville shrunk Arizona’s lead to 1 point. At this point, both teams attempted multiple onside kicks, and none of them succeeded. Jacksonville attempted first, and Purify recovered the kick.
The next play, Davila found WR Maurice Purify (7 catches for 82 yards and 2 touchdowns) for a 10 yard score. Zendejas missed the following PAT and Arizona was up by 7. Arizona’s first onside kick was recovered by Jacksonville’s Andrew Robustelli.
Grady found Hills twice (both catches were for 9 yards) with the second catch being a touchdown. Wolfe made the PAT, and both teams had 27 points. Wolfe’s next onside attempt for Jacksonville hit the side board, so the ball was ruled out of bounds. Davila found Purify two plays later for his second score of the night. Zendejas kicked the ball deep after the made PAT, and Jacksonville’s Gray made an excellent return, but it was called back due to a holding flag on Greg Reid. Reid talked to the umpire for a bit about it, and bumped the ref as he turned away, which got him ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Jacksonville maintained their composure and Grady found Hills for another touchdown. Wolfe made the PAT, and with 8 seconds left, kicked the ball deep to Arizona.
Arizona started on the 5 for the final drive of the quarter. Davila did quick passing plays to Windsor and Purify who both went out of bounds to conserve time on the clock. Davila ended up finding Windsor on a designed play to have 2 receivers covered and potentially be blockers if needed (which the blockers were needed) and Windsor put the ball on the goal line with a Jacksonville player under him for a touchdown. Jacksonville challenged the play and the ruling stood. Zendejas made the PAT, which put Arizona up by 7 at the half.
Jacksonville received the ball to start the second half which ended with Grady finding Hills for another score. Wolfe made the following PAT which tied the game back up again. On Davila’s next drive, he lead a slow drive that ended with Windsor receiving a touchdown pass. Zendejas made the PAT to give back Arizona’s 7 point lead. Jacksonville tied the game back up with Grady finding Robustelli for a score. The following PAT by Wolfe tied the game back up. Arizona ended the quarter with Benson scoring for 2 yards out and Zendejas making the PAT.
Reggie Gray started the fourth quarter off for Jacksonville with a 39 yard runback which lead to Grady finding Hills for a 18 yard strike. Wolfe’s first PAT was made, but due to a flag he had to attempt it again from 10 yard deeper. The second PAT was missed and Arizona was up by 1. Jacksonville attempted more onside kicks, but none were successful and it gave Arizona less field to work with.
Arizona made longer work than expected with the short field due to a holding flag, but eventually Davila found Windsor for a 8 yard score. Zendejas made the following PAT and kicked the ball deep for Jacksonville to work with.
Sharks FB Derrick Ross had a 12 yard rush on the drive, but Jones had the touchdown. Wolfe made the following PAT, but the onside kick was recovered by Purify. Arizona made shorter work of the field this time, with Windsor having a 5 and 8 yard catch on the drive, and the 8 yard catch being a score.
On the drive, Arizona used two timeouts and Jacksonville used one timeout to conserve time on the clock. Grady eventually found Hills for the score. The two point attempt to tie the game was incomplete as Grady became under pressure and threw the ball away. Jacksonville kicked the ball deep and Arizona ran a pass play to run out the remaining 4 seconds.
Offensive Player of the Game: Rod Winsdor – Arizona Rattlers
Defensive Player of the Game: Damien Borel – Arizona Rattlers
Playmaker of the Game: Maurice Purify – Arizona Rattlers
Catch of the Game: Rod Windsor catch and dive in the endzone at the end of the second quarter – Arizona Rattlers
Highlight of the Game: Sack and forced fumble by Rodney Fritz, fumble recovered by Dimetrio Tyson – Arizona Rattlers