PHOENIX — After two straight defeats to begin their Indoor Football League tenure, a bye week was just what the doctor ordered for the Arizona Rattlers. Head coach Kevin Guy used the time off to get his team’s timing, rhythm and comfort with the new brand of football to where it needed to be.
The team’s efforts certainly paid dividends in the form of a 71-27 victory over the Colorado Crush in front of 14,942 fans at Talking Stick Resort Arena Saturday night.
The game started much the same as the first two with Arizona’s defense struggling on the opening drive, allowing quarterback Aaron Aiken (15-of-27, 116 yards, one touchdown, one interception) to move the ball seemingly at will before finding Tim Lukas in the back of the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
The Rattlers would answer right back, however, as quarterback Darron Thomas hit wideout Anthony Amos from 20 yards out to pull the teams even midway through the first quarter.
After a Colorado field goal, Arizona running back Darrel Monroe broke off a 12-yard run to put the Rattlers in business deep in Crush territory. Two plays later, backup quarterback Jon Wolf followed a couple blocks on his way into the end zone for his first of three rushing touchdowns to give Arizona its first lead, 14-10.
The Rattlers defense forced a missed field goal on the ensuing drive leading to another Thomas touchdown pass to Demarius Washington. Arizona would not look back on their way to a convincing win, outscoring the Crush 50-17 from that point on.
“I thought we were really efficient in all three stages of the game,” Guy said after the game. “We took a step forward. (We are) not where we want to be yet, but we are going to keep working.”
After their last defeat, Guy pointed to the team’s lack of physicality on defense and in the running game as the biggest reasons for their struggles in the new league.
The Rattlers answered their coach’s challenge; rolling the Crush for 151 total yards on the ground, 93 by Monroe.
“I just stuck to the game plan (and) did what the coaches asked me to do, trusted my (offensive) line.” Monroe said, “We all did good, defense did good, we were all communicating together.”
The defense also responded, harassing Aiken to the tune of three sacks and two interceptions, as well as forcing a fumble on a kickoff which defensive back Adam Sauder recovered in the end zone for a score.
The Arizona Rattlers will have another bye week before heading on the road to face the Green Bay Blizzard on March 26.