Phoenix, Ariz– The Arizona Rattlers (12-1) exacted revenge on the Spokane Shock (9-4) on Saturday night, winning 59-42 at Ak-Chin Field at US Airways Center and clinching a spot in the postseason in the process.
The Shock, who handed the Rattlers their only loss earlier this season, came into the game looking to repeat history and gain ground in the conference standings.
But it was Nick Davila and the Arizona Rattlers on the board first, as Davila found wide receiver Rod Windsor for the first of his three touchdown receptions. Windsor would play a crucial role in the game, finishing with 15 catches as Maurice Purify and Jared Perry were slowed up by injuries.
Both sides exchanged scores until Shock quarterback Erik Meyer was pressured and forced to throw the ball away on fourth down midway through the second quarter. The Rattlers would quickly come back and drive down the field, culminating in a Garrett Lindholm field goal to put the Rattlers up 24-14 with four minutes left in the second quarter.
Erik Meyer would find Kamar Jorden for the touchdown in what looked to be the last possession of the half, cutting the lead to 24-21 with just 37 seconds left. But a botched onside kick attempt allowed Davila to find Rod Windsor in the end zone just 14 seconds later, as the Rattlers would go into the half up 31-21.
Meyer opened the half poorly for the Shock, as their first possession of the half would end on a Virgil Gray interception. Arizona would find a familiar target on the ensuing drive, finding Windsor again in the end zone to make it 38-21 Arizona.
Yet the Shock were persistent, as Meyer would find Adron Tennell, who made defenders miss on his way to the end zone, bringing the lead back to 38-28. After forcing a failed Arizona first down, Meyer would find Tennell across the middle for the score, sprung by a crazy Jorden block. Tennell would be flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct on the play, the start of a crazy minute of play.
On the PAT, yet another flag would be thrown for unsportsmanlike conduct. With the game now 38-35, several Shock players were seen arguing with officials, with some having to be restrained. On the ensuing kickoff, chaos erupted as punches were thrown by both teams. Referees were able to regain control, and Shock linebacker Arvell Nelson was ejected from the game.
Davila knew that there was a potential for such a scrum, and was proud of how his team handled it.
“We knew it was going to be competitive and that between the whistle that they liked to talk a lot of trash, so we just wanted to stay focused and beat them between the whistles,” he said.
The Rattlers were able to maintain control despite the circumstances, as Davila quickly led his team down the field, and found receiver Trandon Harvey on an out route for the score to make it 45-35 in favor of Arizona.
After a missed Shock field goal, Davila began to go to work on putting the game out of reach. He would find Kerry Reed for a touchdown, making it 52-35 Arizona. After forcing another stop, Davila would find Harvey for his second touchdown, extending the lead to 59-35. The Shock would score in garbage time on a Meyer touchdown pass to Tennell.
Despite this impressive run of victories by large margins, Davila was intent on keeping his team focused on the future.
“We just got to keep our eye on the prize. Championships are what we do here,” he said. “We’re just trying to get better and not get complacent, and every day trying to work on your craft.”
NOTE: The Arizona Rattlers (12-1) travel to San Jose next week (6/22) to face the Sabercats (8-4), followed by their bye week. This season has been the best start (12-1) in Rattlers franchise history.