Rattlers Outlast Sharks, 70-61
Sunday May 4, 2014
Arizona (7-0) Stays Perfect in Road Win over Jacksonville (2-5)
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Arizona Rattlers continued their winning ways Saturday night, outlasting the Jacksonville Sharks, 70-61, and sweeping the two-game season series in front of 9.732 fans at Sea Best Field at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.
Arizona (7-0), off to its best undefeated start in the 22-year history of the franchise, has won 11 straight games dating back to July 27, an 84-45 victory over the Iowa Barnstormers. That streak includes a lopsided 63-38 win over Jacksonville on April 5 at US Airways Center. The Rattlers have won every regular-season matchup with the Sharks (5-0), but they never have forgotten the one loss that came in a much bigger game -- ArenaBowl XXIV in 2011.
While the spotlight again shined brightly on Rattlers quarterback Nick Davila, who threw 10 touchdown passes and was the Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game, the night belonged to wide receiver Kerry Reed, who was taking the place of Tysson Poots in the lineup after Poots was placed on inactive reserve earlier this week.
Reed caught four of Davila’s scoring strikes, but it was his play on defense late in the game that made the difference for the Rattlers. With 3:52 left, and Arizona leading 63-55, Reed broke up an R.J. Archer pass that was intended for wide receiver London Crawford on fourth down. After taking over on downs, the Rattlers went on a six-play drive that was capped by wide receiver Rod Windsor’s 10-yard touchdown catch from Davila with 51 seconds left.
Archer provided the final margin when he connected with wide receiver Jeron Harvey on an 11-yard touchdown pass with 25 seconds left. The Sharks (2-5) attempted a two-point conversion that was broken up by defensive back Jeremy Kellem, and the onside kick attempt was recovered by Reed. The Sharks dropped their third straight game.
For his efforts, Reed was the J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game, while Kellem was the Riddell Defensive Player of the Game (five tackles). Arizona wide receiver Maurice Purify’s 40-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown in the third quarter was the AFL Highlight of the Game.
Davila continued his All-Arena caliber of play, completing 24 of 31 passes for 389 yards. After throwing nine touchdown passes in each of his last two games, the fifth-year player came within one scoring toss of tying his single-game record of 11, set May 19, 2012, against Utah.
In his last three games, “The Latin Laser” has thrown 28 touchdown passes and only one interception. He now has 57 on the season and 499 for his career. He moved into ninth place on the Arena Football League’s all-time passing touchdowns career list ahead of Tony Graziani (494).
Archer also had an exceptional outing, going 22 of 40 for 341 yards and eight touchdowns, including four to Crawford, who caught nine passes for 178 yards.
The Rattlers will be on the road again in Week 9, traveling to the Portland Thunder, which has won two in a row after an 0-5 start. Arizona returns to the Valley for a May 18 meeting with the Spokane Shock.
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
Arizona 14 28 14 14 70
Jacksonville 21 21 7 12 61
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game: Quarterback Nick Davila (Az)
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game: Defensive back Jeremy Kellem (Az)
J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game: Jack linebacker and wide receiver Kerry Reed (Az)
Cutters Catch of the Game: Wide receiver Jomo Wilson (Jacksonville), who caught a 13-yard touchdown pass one-handed with 41 seconds left in the second quarter.
AFL Highlight of the Game: Wide receiver Maurice Purify (Az), whose 40-yard catch-and-run resulted in a touchdown with 8:15 left in the third quarter.
ABOUT THE ARIZONA RATTLERS
The Arizona Rattlers are the 2012 and 2013 ArenaBowl champions and are proud members of the Arena Football League (AFL). ArenaBowl XXVI marked the Rattlers’ eighth appearance in the AFL Championship Game, winning in 1994, 1997, 2012 and 2013. For ticket information, call 602-514-TDTD (8383), or visit azrattlers.com/" target="_blank" style="color: rgb(17, 85, 204);">www.azrattlers.com.