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SaberCats stung by Rattlers, lose 57-51

Sunday April 13, 2014

 SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose SaberCats (2-3) and Arizona Rattlers (4-0) fittingly took it down to the wire, but ultimately the Rattlers came out on top, winning 57-51, at the SAP Center on Saturday night in front of 9,123 fans. The contest remained close throughout as the two rivals traded the lead several times, before a touchdown with seven seconds left gave Arizona the advantage for good. Rattlers quarterback Nick Davila had a strong game, completing 22-of-34 passes for 272 and seven touchdowns. His counterpart, San Jose quarterback Russ Michna, completed 27-of-42 passes for 284 yards and five touchdowns. Big Play Reggie Gray lived up to his name, hauling in 13 catches for 122 yards and three scores. Wide receiver/linebacker Dominique Curry made his SaberCats debut in style, recording two-and-a-half tackles and an interception, to go along with a 15-yard touchdown catch.

The SaberCats kicked off the scoring on the game’s opening drive when Michna connected with a wide-open Jason Willis for an 18-yard touchdown. Nick Davila responded quickly, getting Arizona on the board with a 20-yard pass to Maurice Purify, tying the game at 7-7. Newcomer and former Rattler, fullback Odie Armstrong, made his presence felt early with a one-yard dive into the end zone to give San Jose back the lead. On their next possession, Arizona drove down the field, culminating in a 10-yard pass to Tyson Poots in the corner of the end zone. However, the SaberCats retained their lead when the Rattlers extra point attempt missed wide right. At the close of the first quarter, San Jose was up 14-13.

The SaberCats went back to the ground attack, this time giving it to Curry, who pounded it in from the one to extend their lead to 21-13. Arizona continued to keep pace when Davila and Purify hooked up again for a big 44-yard strike and a touchdown, cutting the San Jose lead back to one point, at 21-20. After the SaberCats turned it over on downs, the Rattlers took their first lead of the contest on an Alex Singleton one-yard run, making it 27-21. San Jose countered when Michna found an outstretched Gray in the back of the end zone, who dragged his feet in to give them back a one-point advantage, 28-27. Davila then found Purify for the third time, scoring from seven yards out. They went for two-points, but San Jose stuffed them at the goal line, leaving it at a 33-28 Rattlers lead as both teams headed into the locker rooms for half time.

Poots opened up the second half with his second touchdown of the game, a seven-yard score from Davila to make it 40-28. San Jose then drove down the field before Michna found Gray streaking across the back of the end zone for a seven-yard strike of their own. The extra point attempt was missed, leaving the SaberCats with a six-point deficit. The next Arizona drive stalled, but Craig Ratanamorn drove a 22-yard field goal through the uprights to give them a 43-34 lead to end the third quarter.

Gray struck pay dirt for the third time on the night, losing a defender and grabbing a one-yard touchdown to bring San Jose within two. On the ensuing Rattlers drive, the SaberCats defense came up with their first stop of the game. Davila tossed a floater into the end zone that was deflected off of the net before landing in the hands of Curry for an interception. San Jose then drove down the field, and Curry’s big night continued when he brought down a 15-yard touchdown catch. The score gave the SaberCats back the lead, at 48-43. Purify followed with his fourth touchdown catch of the night, a 38-yarder. The Rattlers went for two but failed, giving them a one-point lead. San Jose kicker Nich Pertuit then nailed a 19-yard field goal, recapturing a 51-49 lead for the SaberCats. With seven seconds left, Davila hit wide receiver Kerry Reed for a seven-yard touchdown, and a successful two-point conversion made it 57-51. San Jose had one last shot, but backup quarterback Nathan Stanley’s heave into the end zone didn’t find a receiver, securing the win for the Rattlers.

The SaberCats now hit the road, traveling to Portland to take on the Thunder for the second time this season, this Friday, at 7:00 PM PT at the Moda Center.

Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
----------------- -- -- -- -- -----
Arizona Rattlers 13 20 10 14 57
San Jose SaberCats 14 14 6 17 51
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game: SJ WR Reggie Gray
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game: ARI DB Marquis Floyd
JLS Playmaker of the Game: SJ WR/LB Dominique Curry
Cutters Catch of the Game: SJ WR Reggie Gray’s one-yard touchdown catch in 4th quarter
AFL Highlight of the Game: SJ LB Dominique Curry’s interception off the net in 4th quarter

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