Arizona Rattlers win at home in back and forth battle with Duke City Gladiators

Arizona quarterback Jorge Reyna gets victory in relief of starter Drew Powell


NEVN Photography

Arizona Rattlers in action against Duke City on Saturday night

James Mackey, Reporter

After losing their home opener to the Tucson Sugar Skulls one week ago, the Arizona Rattlers were back at the Footprint Center in Phoenix on Saturday night, to take on the Duke City Gladiators.

After a series of bad snaps by Rattlers’ center Cole Carter, Arizona quarterback Jorge Reyna was able to snatch a ball that was snapped on the ground and tried to pass to Jamal Miles, but it was intercepted by Roderick Chapman, and the Gladiators took momentum early.

Just over a minute later, the Gladiators struck when quarterback Nate Davis found Gary Brown for an early touchdown, and Ernesto Lacayo landed the extra point, 7-0 Gladiators.

It took the Rattlers almost seven minutes to strike, when Jager Gardner carried the ball in from the three-yard line, and kicker Craig Peterson notched his first point of the night, tying the game 7-7.

On the ensuing kickoff, Peterson’s kick got stuck in the net, under the lower bar of the upright, and scored the Rattlers two extra points, 9-7 Rattlers.

Arizona helped Duke City with defensive penalties and Davis found Brown again for the Gladiators second touchdown on the night, but Lacayo missed the point after attempt, 13-9 Gladiators.

The Gladiators reciprocated with their own defensive pass interference foul on a fourth-and-four play.  After keeping the drive going a second time by converting on a fourth-and-one, Arizona was able to capitalize with another Gardner rushing touchdown.  After a successful Peterson P.A.T. the Rattlers led 16-13.

Duke City kept pace with a touchdown pass from Davis to Jared Elmore, followed by a longer than usual point after resulting from an offensive offsides penalty, making the score 20-16 Duke City.

Near the end of the half, Gardner scored his third rushing touchdown for Arizona, and the extra point made it, 23-20 Rattlers.

In the waning moments of the first half, the Gladiators struck back with another Davis to Elmore touchdown, but failed on the two-point conversion, leaving the halftime score 26-23.

On the second-half kickoff, Peterson locked down his second deuce of the night, as he once again soared the ball through the uprights, closing the gap to one 26-25.

A third quarter Peterson field goal gave Arizona the lead 28-26, until Elmore caught his third touchdown of the night late in the quarter, and Duke City converted for two points, taking back the lead 34-28.

In the fourth quarter, Arizona Christian graduate Isaiah Huston caught a 14-yard pass from Reyna, for a Rattlers touchdown, and Peterson kicked the PAT, grabbing another slim lead 35-34.

After Lacayo chalked up another three points for the Gladiators, Huston took the ensuing kickoff 35 yards, and the Rattlers were back in prime scoring position.  They were able to capitalize, as Miles added a touchdown reception to his night.  But Arizona missed the two-point conversion leaving the score 41-37.

The Rattlers defense came up big in the last minutes of the game, when Dillon Winfrey made up for an early penalty, by jumping the route, and intercepting a pass intended for Brown.

Miles scored his second touchdown of the night following the turnover, this one, a seven-yard run, locking down the win for the Rattlers 48-37.

Defensive lineman Ulrich Jones, who was interacting with the raucous Footprint Center crowd all night, said that the energy from the fans helps.

“I love the energy. That’s something I pride my play on. I’m a very emotional player, and I play with my emotions on my sleeve every game, so just to get into the rhythm of settling in, and embracing the crowd, and taking it all in, is something that gave me an extra boost, especially in the fourth quarter,” Jones said.

The Rattlers head to Frisco, Texas for a battle with the undefeated Frisco Fighters, before heading to Oklahoma for a battle with the Tulsa Oilers.  They will return home on May 20 for a matchup with another instate rival, the Northern Arizona Wranglers.