The San Jose SaberCats (13-5, 1-1) fell to the Arizona Rattlers (15-3, 2-0), 72-56, on Sunday at the US Airways Center in Phoenix. With the win, the Rattlers move on to ArenaBowl XXVII on Saturday, August 23rd against the Cleveland Gladiators in Ohio.
The SaberCats offense had a tough start, turning the ball over on downs to open the game. Arizona quickly took advantage as Nick Davila found wide receiver Rod Windsor on their first offensive play from scrimmage with a 17-yard touchdown connection and an early 7-0 lead.
On the next possession, San Jose quarterback Nathan Stanley found wide receiver Reggie Gray for a 30-yard touchdown to tie the game at seven. The Rattlers found the end zone on their next drive, as Davila spotted wide receiver Kerry Reed on the six-yard out pattern for the 14-7 lead. Later same quarter, Stanley would be intercepted by Reed which would lead to Davila's one-yard keeper for a 21-7 lead.
Quarterback Russ Michna would check in on San Jose’s next possession, and on the first play of the second quarter, find Gray for a nine-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 7. After a failed onside kick attempt, Davila once again used the short field to his advantage, finding Reed for the second time on the evening, and extending the home team’s lead back to 28-14. Michna later connected with wide receiver Dominique Curry for a nine-yard score. Davila then connected with wide receiver Tysson Poots on a six-yard pitch and catch, pushing the Arizona lead to 35-21. Michna would later connect with Gray on a fourth down conversion to stay within seven at 35-28. After SaberCats kicker Nich Pertuit recovered his own onside kick, Michna looked deep but was intercepted by defensive back Marquis Floyd in the end zone. In the final minute, Davila found offensive lineman Michael Huey on a screen pass with 4.9 seconds left for the 42-28 half time lead.
After the half time break, Davila found the end zone again for his second quarterback keeper of the night to put Arizona up 48-28. One play later, the San Jose offense would respond, as Michna and Gray hooked up for a 32-yard touchdown. After a failed onside kick attempt, Arizona’s offense would settle for a 26-yard field goal by kicker Craig Ratanamorn to make the score 51-35. On the ensuing possession, Michna would be sacked on fourth down after a string of penalties to give the ball back to the Rattlers. Davila would continue to pick apart the SaberCats defense, finding Windsor on a 16-yard crossing pattern to extend the Arizona lead to 58-35.
Early in the fourth quarter, San Jose fullback Odie Armstrong bulldozed his way into the end zone for the touchdown to close the gap to 58-42. After another failed SaberCats onside kick attempt, Davila connected with Poots from one-yard out to extend Arizona's lead back to 23 points. The SaberCats offense would answer with a score, as Michna found wide receiver Jason Willis in the end zone to make it a two-score game at 65-49. After Curry recovered the onside kick attempt for the San Jose, a fumbled snap exchange was recovered by Arizona. Continuing to apply the pressure, on the next play from scrimmage, Davila connected with Windsor on a 31-yard route to extend the lead to 72-49. Michna would tack on a late touchdown pass to Willis, bringing the final score to 72-56 Rattlers.
Courtesy of SaberCats media relations