Rattlers hold on for close win in Nebraska against Danger
After a narrow defeat at home last weekend, the Arizona Rattlers needed a win to keep pace in the Intense Conference.
The same could be said for their opponents Friday night, the Nebraska Danger, an IFL mainstay who is also in the fight for one of the conference’s two playoff spots.
The two teams met for the first time in a playoff-caliber matchup in front of 6,428 fans at the Heartland Events Center.
The Rattlers looked to be in control early after forcing a missed field goal. Arizona quarterback Cody Sokol led a methodical drive, capped off with a nine-yard scoring strike to Anthony Amos to give the Rattlers a 7-0 lead.
Foreshadowing the rest of the contest, Nebraska struck back on the ensuing drive as quarterback Derrick Bernard hit wideout Dimitri Stimphil up the sideline for a 25-yard touchdown to pull the Danger even.
The teams continued to trade scores until the final minute of the half when Bernard found Dello Davis in the end zone from 12 yards out. A blocked extra point put Nebraska’s halftime lead at 26-21.
In a departure from the first half, the teams traded stops to start the third quarter, but Arizona offensive lineman Damian Love blocked Nebraska’s long field goal attempt, which ricocheted into the end zone for a safety.
On the ensuing possession, the Rattlers took advantage of good field position as Sokol hooked up with Amos for the second time from seven yards out to give Arizona a 30-26 lead.
However, Nebraska refused to go away as kick returner Eric Thomas weaved his way through the Rattlers’ coverage for a 36-yard touchdown.
After a Sawyer Petre field goal to tie the game, Nebraska drove down to the Arizona 1-yard line, looking to take the lead for good. Bernard’s sneak attempt saw the Danger signal-caller fumble before crossing the plane and Rattlers defensive back Adam Sauder jump on the recovery.
The next two possessions saw the teams trade field goals as the see-saw battle continued with two minutes to play and the ball in Sokol’s hands amid just his second professional start.
The Desert Vista product answered the call, delivering a 17-yard completion to Amos on fourth down to put Arizona in business on the Nebraska 11-yard line.
Three plays later, Petre delivered his third field goal of the night as the Rattlers led with four seconds to play.
Bernard’s hail mary attempt as time expired sailed out of the back of the end zone as Arizona escaped the Cornhusker state with a 39-36 victory.
The Rattlers stay on the road to face the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles on Friday, April 14 at 6 p.m.