SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Arizona Rattlers and San Jose Sabercats fittingly went down to the wire Saturday night, with the Rattlers pulling out a dramatic 57-51 victory at the SAP Center in front of of 9,123 fans.
As has been the case in most games between the two rivals, the contest was close, with the lead being traded several times before a touchdown pass with seven seconds left gave Arizona the victory. Rattlers quarterback Nick Davila had a strong game, completing 22 of 34 passes for 272 and seven touchdowns. His counterpart, San Jose quarterback Russ Michna, completed 27 of 42 passes for 284 yards and five touchdowns.
For the SaberCats, Reggie Gray tallied 13 catches for 122 yards and three scores, and wide receiver/linebacker Dominique Curry notched two and a half tackles and an interception to go along with a 15-yard touchdown catch.
San Jose kicked off the scoring on the gameâs opening drive when Michna connected with a wide-open Jason Willis for an 18-yard touchdown. Davila responded quickly, getting Arizona on the board with a 20-yard pass to Maurice Purify to tie the score.
SaberCats fullback Odie Armstrong, a former Rattler, made his presence felt early with a 1-yard dive into the end zone to put San Jose back on top. But the Rattlers responded on their next possession with a 10-yard pass from Davila to Tyson Poots in the corner of the end zone. San Jose retained the lead, however, when the extra-point attempt missed wide right.
The SaberCats went back to the ground attack at the start of the second quarter, this time giving it to Curry, who pounded it in from the 1 to extend the lead to 21-13. The Rattlers continued to keep pace, though, as Davila and Purify hooked up again for a big 44-yard strike for a touchdown, cutting the San Jose lead back to one point at 21-20. After San Jose turned it over on downs, Arizona took its first lead of the contest on an Alex Singleton 1-yard run, making it 27-21. The SaberCats countered when Michna found in the back of the end zone an outstretched Gray, who dragged his feet in to give San Jose a 28-27 advantage. Davila then found Purify for the third time, this score coming from 7 yards out, on the ensuing possession. The Rattlers went for two but were stopped at the goal line, keeping the score 33-28 Arizona at the half.
Poots opened the second half with his second touchdown of the game, a 7-yard score from Davila, to make it 40-28. The SaberCats then drove down the field, with Michna finding Gray streaking across the back of the end zone for a 7-yard strike of their own. The extra-point attempt missed, though, leaving San Jose with a six-point deficit. The next Arizona drive stalled, but Craig Ratanamorn connected on a 22-yard field goal to extend the Rattlers’ lead to 43-34 at the end of the third quarter.
The SaberCats answered when Gray scored for the third time on the night, losing a defender and grabbing a 1-yard touchdown to bring San Jose within two. On the ensuing Arizona drive, the San jose defense came up its first stop of the game. Davila tossed a floater into the end zone that deflected off of the net before landing in the hands of Curry for an interception. The SaberCats then drove down the field, and Curryâs big night continued when he brought down a 15-yard touchdown catch to put San Jose on top 48-43.
The Rattlers came right back, with Purify grabbing his fourth touchdown catch of the night, a 38-yarder. Arizona went for two but failed, retaining a one-point lead at 49-48. San Jose kicker Nich Pertuit hit a 19-yard field goal on the ensuing possession, recapturing a 51-49 lead for the SaberCats.
But with seven seconds left, Davila hit wide receiver Kerry Reed for a 7-yard touchdown, and a successful two-point conversion made it 57-51.
San Jose had one last shot, but backup quarterback Nathan Stanleyâs heave into the end zone didn’t find a receiver.