Arizona Rattlers top Nebraska Danger to win fifth straight
You could call the Arizona Rattlers’ first match-up with the Nebraska Danger on April 7 a turning point for the season.
Coming off a narrow home loss to Wichita Falls and quarterback Cody Sokol still trying to find his feet in the indoor game, Arizona won a hard-fought, physical contest in Grand Island, 39-36, on a Sawyer Petre field goal as time expired. The win gave the Rattlers a shot of confidence as they proceeded to win six of seven and control their own destiny in the Intense Conference.
Arizona was able to duplicate the result Sunday afternoon by the score of 43-33 in front of 11,384 fans at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
After forcing a missed field goal on Nebraska’s opening drive, Sokol (10-19, 156 yds, 3 TDs) hit Antonio Vaughn in stride for a 43-yard score to give the Rattlers a 7-0 lead.
The Danger struck back as kick-returner Demetruce McNeal weaved his way through Arizona’s coverage for a 53-yard touchdown to pull the score even.
The Rattlers took control on a Ketrich Harmon 3-yard touchdown plunge and, after forcing another missed field goal, Sokol found Vaughn again for another long score to give Arizona a 20-7 lead.
From there, Nebraska pulled starter Patrick McCain and backup Drew Powell (9-16, 142 yds, 2 TDs) was able to keep his team close as the teams traded scores leading up to halftime with Arizona holding a 30-23 lead at the break.
On the Rattlers’ first drive of the second half, Sokol mishandled the snap and the Danger recovered, leading to a Powell touchdown pass to tie the game at 30.
On the ensuing drive, Arizona receiver Jamal Miles found the end zone from a yard out to give the Rattlers the lead once again.
After a Nebraska field goal and another lost fumble by Sokol, Arizona’s defense forced another long field goal attempt.
The kick was short and Miles fielded it in the back of the end zone, picked up some blocks and beat kicker Josh Gable down the sideline for a 58-yard score to seal the Rattlers’ fifth straight win.
“I thought it was going to go over the wall, but I just put my hands up and the ball landed in my hands,” said Miles. “After that, I just had to make a play.”
Despite the win, Head Coach Kevin Guy sees room for improvement as his team is in the thick of the playoff hunt.
“We’re not there yet,” said Guy. “We’ve got to finish. That is what we’ve been preaching.”
–On Nebraska’s final drive, Arizona defensive back Dillion Winfrey went over the wall to come up with an interception to keep the Danger out of the end zone in the final minute.
–Ketrich Harmon played in his first game since fracturing his arm April 14.
–Arizona was 3-for-3 on fourth down.
–Nebraska kicker Josh Gable missed four field goals and an extra point.
–Nebraska committed 16 penalties for 103 yards.
The Arizona Rattlers will try to lock-up first place in the conference when they travel to Spokane to face the Empire on Saturday, June 3. Kick-off is at 7 p.m.
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