Arizona Rattlers home opener spoiled by loss to Tucson Sugar Skulls

12,107 fans fill Footprint Center for first home game of the season


Courtesy @thedorsetmum

Arizona Rattlers during a previous matchup

Hannah Hamilton, Reporter

On Saturday night, the Arizona Rattlers lost their first home opener since 2016.

What stings even more, is that they lost to their in-state rivals the Tucson Sugar Skulls.

Entering Saturday night’s game at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Tucson sat atop the Western standings at 1-0 in conference play.

The Rattlers were 0-1 in the conference but 1-1 on the season, following an opening day win against the Quad City Steamwheelers and a one-point loss to the Bay Area Panthers two weeks ago.

With starting quarterback Drew Powell placed on short term injured reserve, Jorge Reyna took over at the quarterback position.

Just one play after kickoff, Reyna took a 19-yard shot down field to #9 Isiah Scott for their first homefield touchdown of the season.

After a blown coverage by the Rattlers defense with 1:47 left in the first quarter, the Sugar Skulls put up their second touchdown of the night.  However, they still trailed by one after missing the point-after try following their first touchdown.

The Rattlers failed to convert on third down at the start of the second quarter, but the defense clapped back when #20 Simeon Gatling intercepted Tucson quarterback Ramone Atkins.

Gatling’s takeaway led to Arizona’s third touchdown of the half, making the score 21-13 with 5:32 left before halftime.

The Sugar Skulls answered though, scoring another touchdown before halftime.

The Sugar Skulls came out hot after halftime, while the Rattlers seemed to be out of rhythm following the break, eventually finding themselves down 34-21.

The Rattlers looked like they were going to bounce back, sending two wide-open receivers into the end zone, but Reya overthrew them.

It seemed like every time the Rattlers would start to rally, the Sugar Skulls would score another touchdown.

With 2:11 left in the game, the Rattlers kicked off, but it was blocked and returned by the Sugar Skulls for a special teams touchdown.

Disappointed fans crowding the stairs before the end of the game, making their way to the exits.

It was clear that the loss of their starting quarterback affected the Rattlers Saturday night.

The game concluded with a tense interaction between Head Coach Kevin Guy and the officials, which resulted in Guy’s first technical foul. Clearly frustrated, Guy threw his headset off the field and was given a second technical, resulting in him being ejected from the home opener.

Following the loss, Guy went into more detail about what happened in those last minutes that resulted in him being thrown out.

“I called timeout, plain as day.  Everybody in the building saw it,” Guy said.  “Okay, we’re down five…We’re playing situational football. They get a first down — I call a timeout and they stop the clock. Uh — I think everyone saw them stop the clock.  So I’m thinking we’re in a timeout, and I hear a fan behind me saying ‘Coach clock’s running’, I look up and there’s 30 something seconds left.  It went from 50 something down to 30 something — and then they’re trying to tell me that they didn’t hear me call a timeout.”

The Rattlers return to action at the Footprint Center next week when they play host to Duke City Gladiators on Saturday, April 15.