Rattlers drop one late at home against the Empire
PHOENIX — The Arizona Rattlers were looking to renew an old rivalry with Spokane Saturday night and take over first place in the Intense Conference with a win.
The Snakes struggled out of the gate and could not hold a fourth quarter lead as the Empire (5-3) emerged victorious 60-51 in front of 12,725 fans at Talking Stick Resort Arena, dropping the Rattlers (4-4) to two games out of the conference lead and to a dismal 1-3 home record.
Arizona looked to be in control early as the defense forced a missed field goal on Spokane’s opening possession.
However, two plays into the ensuing drive, Rattlers’ quarterback Cody Sokol was tackled in the end zone by linebacker Andrew Jackson on an option keeper for a safety.
The Empire marched down the field on their next possession as running back Trevor Kennedy found paydirt from a yard out to put Spokane up 9-0.
A Sawyer Petre field goal put Arizona on the board as the first quarter expired, but neither team created much separation as they traded touchdowns throughout the second quarter until the final minute of the half.
Sokol led a textbook drive before hitting Fred Williams with a nine-yard strike as the clock read zero. A failed two-point conversion attempt saw the Rattlers trailing 28-23 heading into the locker room.
Arizona took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched down to the Empire two-yard line before Anthony Amos took an end-around in for a touchdown to give the Rattlers their first lead, 30-28.
A see-saw battle ensued which saw scores from both teams put the game at a virtual stand-still until the 11-minute mark when Kennedy returned a kick 54 yards for a touchdown to swing momentum back Spokane’s way.
With six minutes to play, Arizona was stopped on downs and the Empire used the ensuing possession to kick a field goal and, ultimately, put the game out of reach.
“There is a lot of football left. We just have to keep our head up and keep working,” said head coach Kevin Guy. “Talent-wise; we can match-up with anyone on the field…we have to get mentally tougher and start figuring it out…we are not rookies anymore.”
The Arizona Rattlers welcome the Green Bay Blizzard to Talking Stick Resort Arena on Saturday, April 29th at 6 p.m.