Rattlers silence Screaming Eagles for fourth straight win
At the start of the season, Cody Sokol was Arizona’s third-string quarterback and his future in professional football looked as unclear as the Rattlers’ record as they began their first year of play in the Indoor Football League.
However, with the confidence of his coaches and support of his teammates, the Desert Vista High product has established himself as the team’s top signal-caller and a big reason why the Rattlers sit alone atop the Intense Conference standings with an 8-4 record.
Saturday’s matchup with the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles perfectly illustrated Sokol’s impact as the former Louisiana Tech Bulldog threw for four touchdowns and ran for two more as Arizona topped Salt Lake, 63-33, in front of a season-high 15,478 fans at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
After Salt Lake scored to open the game, the Rattlers answered as Sokol (8-13, 102 yards) found Anthony Amos, who beat his man over the middle on fourth down. The 8-yard touchdown gave Arizona a 7-6 lead.
The teams traded scores until the second quarter, when the Rattlers forced a missed field goal and Sokol threaded a pass between multiple defenders to find wideout Diondre Borel in the end zone from 16 yards out, extending Arizona’s lead to 21-12.
Each team scored again and the Screaming Eagles (3-9) got a 35-yard field goal from Josh Wilson to pull within seven points as the half expired.
The Rattlers opened the second half with Sokol taking advantage of a blown coverage to find Jamal Miles wide open in the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown strike before the defense forced a Salt Lake four-and out. Three plays later, Sokol hit Amos again for a 21-yard score and Arizona never looked back on their way to a fourth straight win.
“I appreciate our fan base tonight,” head coach Kevin Guy said. “Rattler Nation was strong. I appreciate them sticking with us through the change. The Arizona Rattlers are committed to putting a great product on the field.”
The Rattlers’ defense played another strong game, forcing two turnovers on downs and a missed field goal. The unit harassed Salt Lake quarterback Verlon Reed to the tune of 55 percent passing (18-of-33), five pass breakups and five sacks.
• Arizona running back Darrell Monroe rushed nine times for 92 yards and a touchdown. Monroe leads the IFL in rushing, averaging 63.4 yards per game.
• A week after collecting three sacks against Spokane, Arizona linebacker Justin Shirk led another strong pass rush with 2.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss and a pass breakup.
• Arizona is 7-0 when they run more than they pass. The Rattlers ran the ball on 19 plays while only attempting 13 passes Saturday.
• Salt Lake failed to convert a single PAT or two-point conversion.
The Rattlers host conference foe Nebraska Sunday, May 28th at Talking Stick Resort Arena at 3:00 p.m.