The Arizona Rattlers’ offense has been virtually unstoppable all season long.
Now, their defense is starting to look like the same opportunistic, turnover-forcing unit that helped them to a second straight Arena Bowl title last season.
Arizona (9-0) forced six turnovers and scored two defensive touchdowns in a 70-38 cakewalk over the Spokane Shock (5-4) in front of 9,437 fans at US Airways Center Sunday afternoon. After forcing just nine turnovers in their first seven games, the Rattlers have forced 10 in the last two weeks.
After jumping out to a 14-7 lead, the Rattlers forced a turnover on downs on Spokane’s second possession. Three plays later, quarterback Nick Davila found Rod Windsor for the second time of the night — this one from 10 yards out — and the Rattlers took a two-touchdown lead.
They were just getting started.
On the Shock’s next possession, receiver Rashaad Carter, who started at quarterback, overthrew a pass on a second down and 15 and Arizona defensive back Arkeith Brown picked it off and brought it back to the Spokane 6-yard line.
Two plays later, Davila hooked up with Kerry Reed on a 6-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-7.
The second quarter featured three defensive touchdowns in a span of 6:25. The Shock actually got the first, when Terrence Moore picked off Davila and rumbled 27 yards for a score. On Arizona’s ensuing possession, Moore again intercepted Davila, giving Spokane a chance to pull to within a touchdown.
On the Shock’s first play, quarterback Donovan Porterie was hit as he threw and the ball landed right in the hands of defensive lineman Isaac Remington, who streaked 27 yards for the score which put the Rattlers back up by three touchdowns.
Porterie regrouped and led the Shock deep into Arizona territory with under a minute to play in the half. On first and goal, the quarterback, who was playing in just his second AFL game, tried to stretch the ball over the goal line. Before he could, Rattlers linebacker Tyre Glasper knocked the ball loose and Jeremy Kellem scooped it up and ran 44 yards for another touchdown, basically putting the game out of reach.
But that wasn’t enough for the hungry defending champions. Rookie Demar Dorsey came up with another interception — this one a juggling grab — that let Davila and Co. set up shop deep in Spokane territory with just seconds remaining. Davila found Windsor on a 3-yard touchdown hookup on the final play of the half and the Rattlers went to the locker room with a commanding 49-14 lead.
Davila finished the night completing 16-of-27 for 175 yards and a season-low six touchdowns. It was also the first time the lefty from Cincinnati has had a multiple-interception game since he threw three in a Week 18 loss to Chicago last season.
With the Rattlers playing without leading receiver Maurice Purify, Windsor was Davila’s favorite target, snaring 12 balls for 138 yards and four touchdowns.
Arizona has now won the last four meetings between the two teams, including both match ups this season. Overall, the Rattlers have won 13 straight, dating back to last year.
The Rattlers will travel to Anaheim for their first-ever meeting with the L.A. Kiss. L.A. has lost six straight and is averaging just 27.2 points per game in that stretch.