PHOENIX, Ariz. - The San Jose SaberCats (2-1) fell to the Arizona Rattlers (3-0) 73-47 on Saturday night at US Airways Center in front of 7,156 fans in Phoenix. Quarterback Aaron Garcia completed 25-of-42 passes for 279 yards and six touchdowns for San Jose. Turnovers told the story in this one, as Garcia was intercepted three times, two of which were brought back for scores and San Jose was stopped once more on downs.
Arizona got on the scoreboard first, as former SaberCats defensive back Marquis Floyd returned a deflected Garcia pass 40 yards for the opening score. San Jose responded quickly, however, as Garcia hooked up with wide receiver Fred Williams from 18 yards out to knot the score at seven midway through the first quarter. The teams traded scores once more to tie things at 14 after one quarter of play.
The Rattlers scored quickly into the second quarter as quarterback Nick Davila picked out wide receiver Tysson Poots for the second time on the night, this time from 12-yards out, to put Arizona in front, 21-14. After Garcia threw his second interception of the first half, Arizona capitalized as Davila connected with Kerry Reed on a 24-yard strike to put the Rattlers on top 28-14 with 7:56 to play in the second quarter. Reed struck again on the next drive, intercepting Garcia from his jack linebacker position and returning it 43-yards for the score, extending Arizona’s advantage to 35-14.
Following a 42-yard kick return by defensive back Mervin Brookins, Garcia rebounded with a 12-yard touchdown toss to wide receiver Jason Willis to pull within two scores. Arizona benefitted from a pair of rushing touchdowns by fullback Odie Armstrong sandwiched around a 24-yard touchdown pass from Garcia to Huey Whittaker and Arizona led 49-28 at the half.
The teams traded scores to open the second half, and Arizona pushed the lead to 59-35 on a 24-yard field goal by kicker Garrett Lindholm with just under four minutes remaining in the third quarter. The SaberCats were unable to score on a key fourth down inside the red zone and trailed by the same score heading into the fourth quarter.
Reed found the endzone for the third time on the night, his second offensively as he caught a nine-yard strike from Davila in early in the fourth quarter. San Jose pulled another score back when Garcia threw for his sixth score of the evening, connecting with wide receiver Jamarko Simmons, cutting Arizona’s lead to 66-41. After another Arizona score, quarterback Mitch Mustain threw his first career touchdown pass, finding Williams for a 31-yard touchdown, his second score of the night. It wasn’t enough however, as San Jose dropped their first game in 2013, 73-47.
SaberCats Media Services contributed to this report.