Arizona Rattlers win wild west shootout against Bay Area Panthers

Both teams now tied for first place in Western Conference


NEVN Photography

Arizona in a shootout win against Bay Area Panthers

Hannah Hamilton, Reporter

Sunday’s IFL game at the Footprint Center in Phoenix turned out to be a bawdy score fest-–a shootout if you will. A battle for a share of first place in the Western Conference between the Arizona Rattlers and the Bay Area Panthers.

It was also the annual birthday celebration of their mascot Stryker, and several Arizona sports team mascots made appearances.

Arizona is coming off a huge 63-62 double-overtime road win last week in Prescott Valley against the Northern Arizona Wranglers, in a game that is being nicknamed IFL game of the year. Quarterback Drew Powell had three rushing touchdowns and five passing touchdowns that day.

The Bay Area Panthers also won last week, capitalized on home field advantage in a 69-52 win over the Duke City Gladiators.

Panther’s linebacker Darin Hungerford received IFL’s Defensive Player of the Week after he and the defense shut out Duke City in the fourth quarter. Hungerford totaled 11 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, and two pass breakups.

Earlier this season, the Panthers beat Arizona in the Bay 47-46.

After getting a penalty on their first offensive play, an enraged Panther offensive coordinator Dixie Wooten entertained the crowd by slamming his headset and throwing his play cards.

Seemingly nonplussed, Bay Area quarterback Dalton Sneed came right back to launch a 37-yard touchdown pass to get the game going.

The tension was thick and both team’s coaches could be heard yelling throughout the stadium for most of the first quarter.

Things settled down and scoring heated up in the second quarter.

Rattler wide receiver Jamal Miles caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Powell while wideouts JT Stokes and Jazeric Peterson ran for a 14-yard touchdown and caught a 35-yard touchdown pass respectively.

Later in the quarter, Powell would get in on the action, dragging Panthers defenders on his back for a 20-yard rushing touchdown.

Peterson scored again, after a huge Arizona fumble recovery, increasing the lead to 28-14.

But Bay Area wasn’t ready to be counted out.

Wide receiver Nih-Jer Jackson caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Sneed, and after an Arizona special-teams touchdown, the Panthers came back with two more touchdowns of their own.

With the score even at 35 points apiece and time running out in the half, Powell rushed for a 4-yard touchdown to take back the lead.

During the third quarter, both teams put up two more touchdowns and entered the fourth quarter with the score 56-49 in favor of the home-team.

Keeping with the theme of the night, the fourth quarter continued a high-scoring affair, with neither team daring to take their foot off the gas pedal.  Powell made it look easy, effortlessly tossing wide receiver Isaiah Huston a pass, and then running for his fourth rushing touchdown of the night.

Each time Arizona took the lead, Bay Area would come right back.

With the score tied 63-63, Powell would ultimately take the reins and finish the scoring in Arizona’s favor with a two-yard rushing touchdown.

After the game, Powell talked about his performance and shared an inside look at his position.

“I don’t think it was anything special, I just think it was the looks—we knew where they was going to be and honestly they was telling us before the play. The linebackers would say I’m going right, I’m going right—and so I’m like okay, alright…thanks, so that’s how I was able to get down field,” said Powell.

Linebacker Cecil Cherry spoke about his outstanding performance, which featured his first touchdown in a Rattlers uniform.

“It was just reacting at the right time, right place, right moment—scoop, and score and that’s it,” Cherry told reporters after the game. “They ain’t know that I had hands, and that’s funny because I worked on catching this whole week in practice.”

Arizona will go on the road to Albuquerque, NM to face the Duke City Gladiators but will return to the snake pit June 24 to host San Diego Strike Force who they beat last season 66-33.