Arizona Rattlers hogtie Northern Arizona Wranglers, score decisive win at home

Arizona quarterback Drew Powell runs for four T.D.’s, passes for three in first home game following injury


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Arizona Rattlers poised to score against Northern Arizona

Hannah Hamilton, Reporter

Saturday night, the Arizona Rattlers returned home to the Footprint Center after a three-week road trip to face Northern Arizona.

It was quarterback Drew Powell’s first game at home since returning from injured reserve as well as star wide receiver Braxton Haley. 

The Rattlers came into Saturday’s game 3-2 all time against Northern Arizona after the Wranglers defeated Arizona in last year’s Western Conference Championship in the snake pit by a heart-breaking one point.

Prior to the game, Northern Arizona sat atop the Western Conference at 5-2 but following Saturday’s loss they are tied with the Bay Area Panthers for first place.

The Rattlers drew first blood, when wide receiver Braxton Haley caught a 5-yard touchdown pass 10 minutes into the game.

Moments later, the Rattlers defense got the crowd fired up when several of them rushed Wrangler’s quarterback Garrett Kettle for a sack. Arizona capitalized on the defensive stop with a second touchdown when Powell rushed for three yards.

The Wranglers struck back to silence the loud crowd as wide receiver Jacob Moss scored on a 50-yard kickoff return, cutting the Rattlers lead in half.

With less than two minutes left in the first quarter, Powell effortlessly jogged in for a seven-yard touchdown to put their lead back at double digits.

The Wranglers didn’t have an answer for Powell, as he rushed for two more second-quarter touchdowns.

As if it couldn’t get any worse for the Wranglers in the first half, Kettle was intercepted by Rattlers defensive back Dillion Winfrey and got the hook, in favor of backup QB Nick Watson, who immediately threw an interception of his own to Rattlers defensive back Jarmaine Doubs.

Things got rough as halftime approached, when Wranglers offensive lineman Brandon Grady put a knee in the face of a Rattlers players after the whistle. This only seemed to make Powell and the Arizona offense hungrier as they increased their lead to 39-7 with a 13-yard touchdown pass 16 seconds before halftime.

One minute into the second half, with Kettle back in at quarterback for the Wranglers, they scored a touchdown.  But with the Rattlers still holding a 26-point lead, there wasn’t much to celebrate.

Powell came right back and threw a touchdown pass to Hayley while falling to the ground to bring the lead back to 33 points.

Winfrey made a statement on defense when he picked off a two-point attempt in the third quarter and made several critical stops defensively.

Minutes later,  Arizona added to their lead with another touchdown for a score of 53-19 to end the third quarter.

After more rough stuff lead to a fourth-quarter fight and matching unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, and with the game well in hand, the Rattler’s coaching staff pulled Powell and replaced him with quarterback Jorge Reyna.

Reyna showed that he could get the job done as well, running for a three-yard touchdown to cap a 22-yard scoring drive for the Rattler’s final touchdown of the game.

The Wranglers managed to score a safety and a touchdown late in the game, but it was too little too late, for a final score of 60-34.

Arizona’s quarterback Drew Powell addressed the importance of closing out games during the post-game conference.

“I think playing in front of this crowd, and uh — playing inspiring football like we did tonight… I think when it’s the whole team and everybody’s just feeding off of each other — I didn’t try to do anything special or try and prove anything.  I think just the early stops, getting the ball over the 2 yard line early, making plays and stuff like that… getting turnovers early, it just makes it that much more fun,” said Powell.

Despite early season defensive issues, Dillion Winfrey has stepped up and improved his game and his defenses.

“We plugged in a couple new guys and we just want to do more, we all had to look in the mirror starting from the top down,” said Winfrey.

The Rattlers return to action at the Footprint Center on May 27, when they look for revenge against Vegas Knight Hawks who won by a single point last week in Henderson.