Arizona Rattlers clinch playoff spot with victory over San Diego Strike Force


NEVN Photography

Arizona clinches a playoff spot against San Diego

Hannah Hamilton, Reporter

Saturday’s IFL game at the Footprint Center in Phoenix was everything Arizona defense.

Defensive back Jarmaine Doubs had several critical stops and pass breakups, wreaking havoc with San Diego’s offense.

Defensive linemen Ulric Jones also came up huge with a pass block during Saturday’s game.

Arizona entered the game with momentum, after a decisive 57-34 Father’s Day drubbing of the Duke City Gladiators. The win kept the Rattlers tied for first place in the West with the Bay Area Panthers, who had a similar, lopsided victory over the Vegas Knight Hawks.

The game got started with a Rattlers defensive stop by the aforementioned Doubs on a Strike Force attempt at the endzone. Arizona was able to turn the big stop and resulting turnover into a touchdown with the help of several San Diego penalties.

Rattler’s quarterback Drew Powell ran in for the two-point conversion to make it an early 8-0 lead.

After answering with a touchdown and of their own, San Diego kicker Kevin Goessling scored a “deuce” (two points), by kicking the ensuing kickoff through the uprights, giving them a slim one-point lead.

The Rattlers struck back early in the second quarter, when Powell launched a touchdown pass to running back Jamal Miles.

Arizona’s defense kept San Diego off the board for a good portion of the quarter, including an important blocked pass by Rattler’s lineman Chris Terrell.

San Diego broke into the end zone with 5:55 left in the half, reclaiming their one-point lead, only to give it up a minute later after an insane catch and run touchdown by Arizona wide receiver Isiah Scott.

San Diego quarterback Nate Davis squared things up with one minute left in the half, but Goessling missed the PAT to leave the score tied 22-22.

With less than 30 second left in the half, Scott carried Strike Force defenders on his back to the San Diego six-yard line, leading to a Powell touchdown run and a 29-22 halftime lead.

Early in the third quarter Rattlers receiver Isaiah Huston kept a drive going with a key fourth down catch, setting up the Rattlers first touchdown of the second half.

Once again, the Arizona defense backed up their offense when defensive leader Dillion Winfrey came up huge with a pass break up and near interception.

Miles made a huge impact during the second half, scoring all three of Arizona’s touchdowns.

San Diego switched things up at the quarterback position giving Rudy Johnson a go.

On his first play, he threw a touchdown pass, cutting the Rattlers lead to 50-34.  He would go on to score a rushing touchdown to get his team within eight points, after Davis converted the 2-point conversion.

After trading touchdowns late in the game, the Rattlers ultimately came out on top 57-48, for their sixth consecutive win.

Elsewhere in the League, the Bay Area Panthers lost their game against the Frisco Fighters, leaving the Rattlers in sole possession of the number one seed and ensuring them a playoff spot.

Arizona will have home field advantage in the playoffs if they win their next two games.

Arizona head coach Kevin Guy talked about his team’s performance after the game.

“We’re playing better, our health has gotten better, some of our youth is starting to understand the game,” Guy said.  “Guys that were rookies that’re no longer rookies now…we’re 9-4, they’ve got 13 games under their belt now—so it’s a combination of a little bit of everything.”