Rattlers cruise past Tampa Bay in home opener
PHOENIX — There’s no other way to put it, the Arizona Rattlers are crushing their opposition.
Saturday, it was the Tampa Bay Storm’s turn to experience the 2016 version of the Rattlers. Nick Davila threw for 248 yards and seven touchdowns and the Arizona defense scored two touchdowns in an easy 60-27 Rattlers’ win Saturday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
The Rattlers have now outscored their opposition 209-83 early this year.
The defense once again set the tone early for Arizona (3-0). Tampa Bay (0-3) settled for 53-yard field goal attempts by Craig Peterson on each of their first two possessions after not getting a single yard on either. Peterson missed both.
The Rattlers turned both of the misses into touchdowns. Davila hit Rod Windsor on an 18-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring. On Arizona’s second possession, Davila found Maurice Purify on a 2-yard scoring toss to put the Rattlers up 13-0.
Tampa Bay would make things interesting, but only briefly. Jason Boltus connected with T.T. Toliver on a 30-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter to put the Storm on the board. The Rattlers then had a rare hiccup on offense, turning the ball over on downs. Fullback Mykel Benson was swarmed by James Harrell and James McClinton on a fourth-down play to kill the Arizona drive at the Tampa Bay 9-yard line.
The Storm struck again two plays later when Boltus found Phillip Barnett on a 41-yard touchdown. Peterson added the extra point to tie the game.
That’s basically the last time the contest was interesting. The Rattlers outscored the Storm 47-14 the rest of the way, much to the delight of a huge crowd announced at 14,872 at the “Snake Pit.”
Arizona’s defense has now held three straight opponents to 28 points or less, and the unit continues to score points on its own. Tyre Glasper returned a fumble 32 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and Kerry Reed picked off a deflected Boltus pass and rumbled 40 yards for a touchdown to close the scoring.
Boltus was pressured all night long by the Rattlers’ revamped defensive front and finished just 11-of-37 for 186 yards and three touchdowns. And when he was able to get the ball downfield, Allen Chapman was usually there to knock it away. Chapman had six passes defensed on the night.
The Rattlers hit the road in Week 4 for their toughest test of the season to this point as they take on the Jacksonville Sharks Saturday night.