Step one in defending their Arena Bowl championship is complete. The Arizona Rattlers clinched a playoff berth with a convincing 59-42 win over the Spokane Shock in front of a season-high crowd of 10,654 at Ak-Chin Field at US Airways Center Saturday night.
The Rattlers' defense stopped Spokane on six drives and held them to a season-low 42 points.
Virgil Gray intercepted Erik Meyer's first pass of the second half, and Arizona capitalized. Six plays later, Nick Davila found Rod Windsor on a five-yard touchdown pass to put the Rattlers up 38-21.
But Spokane would fight back. The Shock (9-4) got a touchdown pass from Meyer to Adron Tennell which pulled them back within ten points at 38-28. Then, the Spokane defense went to work, stopping Arizona on a fourth down from the Shock 19-yard line. Meyer found Tennell on the next play from 31 yards and all of a sudden, it was a three-point game.
The Rattlers answered right back, with Davila hooking up with Trandon Harvey on a four-yard touchdowns right before the end of the third quarter to put the Rattlers back up by ten.
Davila finished 24-of-42 for 233 yards and six touchdowns -- three of which went to Windsor.
The Rattlers (12-1) won their ninth straight game and remained the only undefeated home team in the Arena Football League with at 7-0.
Arizona's average margin of victory at US Airways Center is 28.6 points.
But it will be awhile before the defending champs are back on home turf -- they'll travel to San Jose next week, followed by a bye week then a trip to Orlando to take on the Predators. Their next home game is July 13 against New Orleans.