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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.