Photo by Cory Williams, June 18, 2011.

Rattlers Defeat SaberCats 64-57, Win West Division Title

The Rattlers are now 12-2 after a thrilling win against San Jose. Despite taking too many penalties (12 for 98 yards), Arizona scored nine touchdowns and made stops when it counted.

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Arizona Rattlers Now 13-2 After Defeating Philadelphia, 55-54

The Rattlers haven't made their last few victories easy, but they have been victories nonetheless. After defeating San Jose 64-57 last weekend, Arizona traveled up to Philadelphia and defeated the Soul, 55-54 on Saturday night.

Quarterback Nick Davila threw for seven touchdowns, hitting WR Rod Windsor three times. Windsor picked up 131 yards in the air. Kerry Reed added 92 yards, while Jason Geathers was targeted for 55 yards.

The Soul employed a very aggressive running game, scoring six touchdowns on the ground and only two through the air.

Despite a 13-2 record, Arizona still doesn't have the league's best record -- that honor goes to the Jacksonville Sharks, who after losing their season opener to the Rattlers have rattled off 13 straight wins.

This loss was a huge blow to Philadelphia's playoff chances, and at 5-10 are now destined for a long offseason. Arizona, on the other hand, is in the driver's seat of the National Conference, holding a sizable lead over second place Chicago (9-4).


Rattlers Rally, Defeat SaberCats 64-57 In Thrilling Battle

We spoke about discipline in the first half roundup, but the Arizona Rattlers couldn't control themselves as the game extended into the second half.

Rattlers defensive back Marquis Floyd let his emotions get the better of him, headbutting SaberCats lineman Mark Lewis after a play in the third quarter. Despite the aggression, Floyd stayed in the game, but the SaberCats were given valuable yardage that immediately turned into a San Jose touchdown. 42-35, 10:56 in the third.

San Jose put together an impressive goal line stand, stopping the Rattlers rush three times before an exciting fourth down play that resulted in an incomplete pass to Jason Geathers.

Once again, the hotheadedness of the Rattlers came out and yet another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was called, this time on fullback Odie Armstrong. With 4:52 left in the third quarter, things weren't looking good for the Rattlers.

The discipline issue was all the more glaring as the SaberCats scored another touchdown, taking a 14 point lead and silencing the previously rowdy crowd.

Incredibly, Virgil Gray brought the crowd back to life with a sprinting kickoff return for a touchdown, diving into the endzone and cutting the San Jose lead to only seven points, 49-42 with 18 seconds in the third quarter.

The SaberCats threatened again with 11 minutes to play, getting the ball inside the Rattlers ten yard line before an untimely fumble was recovered by Arizona. The crowd of 9,397 went wild and the momentum shifted to the home team.

Davila found Kerry Reed wide open in the endzone from across midfield, allowing the Rattlers to tie the score at 49 apiece. When Arizona decided to get out of its own way and stop with the needless penalties, the results were quite good.

The raucous crowd began influencing the game with under ten minutes to go, causing the SaberCats to incur false start penalties on more than one play.

With 5:35 left to play, the Rattlers made a huge fourth down stop to get the ball back in prime position to win.

Davila led the Rattlers on a long drive that took valuable minutes off of the clock. Some chicanery was attempted with less than 3 minutes to go - fullback Odie Armstrong throw a pass to lineman John Booker that was knocked away at the last second by a SaberCats defender.

With 1:51 to go, Rod Windsor delivered his first touchdown of the game, and it couldn't have come at a better time. With 1:07 to go, the score was 56-49 Rattlers.

Arizona coach Kevin Guy proved once again why he's been so successful in his three seasons as the Rattlers guru. He helped his team engineer a 4 minute, 28 second drive in the waning moments to give San Jose the smallest chance possible to come back.

The ball was placed at the 6 yard line, and Grieb and his company were left with only 59 seconds to work with. Guess what? He delivered.

Grieb hit Ben Nelson on a 26-yard strike with only 23 seconds left in the game. Grieb's play against the Rattlers on Saturday was astounding.

To top it all off, the SaberCats took the biggest of risks - they went for two, hoping to escape Phoenix with a victory. James Roe made an acrobatic one-handed catch in the corner of the endzone to take a 57-56 San Jose lead.

Just when you thought it was all over, the Rattlers struck again. Geathers scored yet another touchdown, this time with only ten seconds left on the game clock. The Rattlers were now up 62-57, and they would go for two to ensure a touchdown wouldn't beat them.

Rod Windsor made a diving catch to give the Rattlers a 64-57 lead over the SaberCats.

With four seconds left, San Jose had one play left from their own 19. Grieb was sacked immediately and the Rattlers escaped with a huge victory.

With the win, Arizona moves to 12-2 on the season and wins the West Division of the National Conference. They have now guaranteed a playoff spot.

9,397 fans were in attendance, one of the better turnouts of the season for the Rattlers and well-deserved. Penalties aside, the Rattlers played championship caliber football tonight.


Arizona Rattlers, San Jose SaberCats Tied At Halftime, 35-35

Nick Davila and company continued their impressive offensive display by promptly scoring a touchdown after an Arizona interception. Kerry Reed was open in the corner of the endzone to draw first blood, and Fabrizio Scaccia's extra point try was successful to take a 7-0 Rattlers lead.

San Jose came right back at the Rattlers, as Chris Vedder returned a kickoff for a touchdown. The score was 7-7 with 6:54 to go in the first.

Rattlers WR Jason Geathers answered the bell with 2:43 left in the first, catching a Davila pass to give the Rattlers a 14-7 lead.

The defense should a lack of discipline in the second quarter, picking up a needless roughing the passer penalty on fourth down. Instead of the Rattlers getting the ball in great position, the SaberCats were rejuvenated on offense.

The penalty flags kept flying, and the Rattlers were on the receiving end of the penalty more often than not.

On the fated roughing the passer drive, the SaberCats scored a seeing-eye touchdown as QB Mark Grieb placed the ball perfectly on the sideline for his wide receiver.

But like they say -- if you don't like the score of an arena football game, just wait a minute. The Rattlers turned it around and immediately ran back the San Jose kick for a touchdown, taking a 21-14 lead in the process.

The SaberCats refused to lie down in the face of the home crowd's enthusiasm, evening the score at 21 shortly thereafter.

Both quarterbacks were in control of the game, and neither defense could make many stops in the first half.

Davila hit Geathers again with 3:10 left in the second half, putting the Rattlers back up 28-21.

Grieb came back with 57 seconds left in the half, connecting with Ben Nelson to knot it up at 28.

San Jose tried to get cute and attempted an onside kick. It didn't pay off, and the Rattlers recovered the ball at the SaberCats' eight-yard line with 55 seconds left.

When you're playing the division leader, you have to take risks - they should be sound decisions, however. Geathers scored yet another touchdown, his third of the half on a cross route. After every touchdown in the half, Geathers was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Arizona tried the same maneuver, and San Jose recovered the ball with 35 seconds left.

To be honest, the decisions I saw at the end of the half were questionable. That's the fun of the experience, seeing teams deal with the small field and high-scoring nature of the arena football beast.

Grieb brought San Jose back to even the score with 20 seconds left, 35-35. Marco Thomas was hit running across the back of the endzone.

The Rattlers lined up a 37-yard field goal with one second left in the half, but Scaccia's field goal went off the right netting.

At the half, there were ten touchdowns scored and only one interception. 35-35, with no end to the scoring in sight.

For fans of pure entertainment, this game has provided it in spades. Kickoff returns, penalties, cannon explosions and breakneck speed. Hopefully the Rattlers can improve their discipline for the second half, or else they may not be able defeat these Cats.

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