Arizona Rattlers continue undefeated season in Sioux Falls
It has been just shy of a month since the Arizona Rattlers (8-0) hosted rival Sioux Falls Storm (6-2) in downtown Phoenix where the Rattlers knocked off the defending conference champs.
The two teams had met in each of the last two postseasons and, once again, are neck and neck at the top of the Indoor Football League standings with Arizona holding a slim advantage.
In the weeks since, Sioux Falls shocked reigning IFL champion Iowa, while the Rattlers continue to dominate opponents by double digit margins.
Arizona maintained its stranglehold on the league’s top spot, knocking off the Storm 63-50 in front of 6,214 fans Saturday night at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.
The Rattlers started fast by blocking a field goal on the game’s opening possession before quarterback Jeff Ziemba shoveled a pass to wideout Jarrod Harrington who raced seven yards to the end zone to give Arizona the 7-0 lead.
The Storm would answer on the first play of the ensuing possession when quarterback Lorenzo Brown hit receiver Brandon Sheperd in stride for a 34-yard scoring strike to tie the game.
On the next possession, Arizona State alumus Jamal Miles went over the boards to come down with a 20-yard touchdown catch to swing the lead back in the Rattlers’ favor.
A miscommunication led to a Storm fumble that was recovered by Arizona. Two plays later, Ziemba found Miles for another score to give the Rattlers a 20-7 advantage.
The teams continued to trade scores until just before the half when Ziemba led a six-play, 37-yard drive that culminated in a 7-yard touchdown pass to Harrington with four seconds remaining in the first half to give Arizona a 37-21 lead at the break.
Arizona started the third quarter with the ball and Ziemba delivered another textbook drive that was capped off by another Miles touchdown catch to give the Rattlers an insurmountable lead as they rolled to an eighth straight win.
Penalties continue to plague Arizona. The Rattlers were flagged 14 times for 149 yards, including four personal fouls.
Wide receiver Sheldon Augustine was tripped up returning a kick-off in the 3rd quarter and was slow to get up. The Langston University alumnus was quickly taken to the locker room and did not return.
Late in the 4th quarter, Sioux Falls kicker Parker Douglass stumbled while attempting an onside kick, causing the ball to travel just a couple yards. Arizona running back Roland Genesy scooped and scored to put his team back up by three scores.
This week, head coach and general manager Kevin Guy signed quarterback Drew Powell. The reigning IFL MVP was in uniform, but Ziemba played the entire contest.
The Arizona Rattlers host the Nebraska Danger at Talking Stick Resort Arena on May 4.
Kickoff is at 5:00 p.m. and all games can be seen live on YouTube.