SAN JOSE -- The San Jose SaberCats (10-4) put an end to perfection, toppling the Arizona Rattlers (14-1), 62-33, Friday night at the SAP Center in front of 7,373 fans. Quarterback Nathan Stanley completed 14-of-22 passes for 167 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Fullback Odie Armstrong had a big night, finishing with 10 carries for 17 yards, with a career tying four scores. The defense was the big story, however, as they held the best offense in the league scoreless in the second and third quarters. They tallied three sacks, one apiece from Terrance Carter, Jason Stewart, and Francis Maka. In addition, Carter forced a key fumble that Maka picked up and returned for a touchdown.
The SaberCats opening drive featured two receptions by offensive lineman; the first to Rich Ranglin who hauled in a nice one-handed grab for 19-yards, and the second, a three-yard dart to rookie Jeff Nady for his first career catch and touchdown. The Rattlers quickly answered, when Nick Davila drove Arizona into the Red Zone, where he connected with Tysson Poots for a six-yard score to tie the game up at 7-7. San Jose would go back on top when Stanley found a streaking Rod Harper for a 28-yard catch and run for the touchdown. The SaberCats then extended their lead when Carter got around the edge and crushed Davila, forcing a fumble, which Maka scooped up and returned eight yards to pay dirt. Through 12 minutes of play, San Jose held the 21-7 lead.
In the second quarter, the SaberCats defense picked up right where it left off, forcing a turnover on downs. However, San Jose’s offense stalled on their next drive. Thankfully, their defense stood tall again, forcing the high-powered Rattlers offense into yet another turnover on downs. The SaberCats then went to their ground game, marching down the field, culminating in an easy one-yard scamper from Armstrong around the right edge for a touchdown. The score extended San Jose’s lead to 28-7. The SaberCats defense continued to come up big, forcing their third turnover on downs in the quarter. San Jose took over on the 10-yard line, and took just one play to find pay dirt when Stanley connected with Harper again for the score, making it a 34-7 game after the extra point attempt sailed right. After another Arizona drive stalled early, Armtrong punched it in again, this time from two yards out. His second touchdown of the game made it 41-7. With time running out, Davila put up one last heave that Maurice Purify came down with, but was ruled down at the one-yard line. That sent both sides into the locker room, with the SaberCats maintaining their 34-point lead.
The Rattlers brought in quarterback Jason Murrietta in relief of Davila to open up the second half. His first throw from scrimmage was picked off by Ken Fontenette, and returned 32 yards. San Jose took advantage of great field position, handing it off to Armstrong, who rumbled in from one-yard out for the touchdown. His third score of the game gave the SaberCats a 48-7 lead. Consecutive sacks from Stewart and Maka shut down the Arizona offense once again, giving the ball back to San Jose. The SaberCats offense wasted little time, going to Armstrong at the goal line for his fourth touchdown scamper of the evening, extending their lead to 55-7. That is where the score would remain heading into the fourth quarter.
To open up the fourth quarter Arizona finally snapped San Jose’s streak of 48 unanswered points, when Murrietta found Rod Windsor for a two-yard touchdown. A failed two-point attempt made it a 55-13 game. On the following drive the SaberCats brought in quarterback Dennis Havrilla in relief of Stanley. On his first play he fumbled the snap, which the Rattlers recovered. Arizona quickly found the end zone on a five-yard pass to Poots. They went for two-points again, but came up empty. That left San Jose with a 55-19 advantage. Stanley was inserted back in at quarterback, but his first pass was intercepted by defensive back Allen Chapman, and returned 22 yards for a touchdown. Arizona went to zero-for-three on two point conversions, reducing the SaberCats lead to 55-25. Havrilla was put back in under center, but this time found much better results, tossing his first career touchdown pass, a 48-yarder to a wide open Reggie Gray. That put San Jose up 62-25. The Rattlers got back on the board when fullback Alex Singleton scored on a one-yard run. A successful two-point conversation made it 62-33. On their final possession, the SaberCats ran out the clock to seal the victory.
The win puts the SaberCats magic number for clinching the division at one. Tune in next week as they travel to Los Angeles to take on the KISS on Sunday, July 6, at 5:00 PM.
Courtesy San Jose SaberCats media services