Rattlers lose second straight

Rattlers lose second straight, this time to Spokane.

SPOKANE, Wash. -- The world champion Arizona Rattlers (14-2), looking to get back on the winning track Saturday night, were handed a 73-66 loss by the Spokane Shock (9-7) at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena in Spokane, Wash.

After setting Arena Football League records for most wins to begin a season (14) and most overall victories in a row (18), Arizona now has lost back-to-back games for the first time since late in the 2012 season. The Rattlers bounced back after that loss, however, and won their last four games – including ArenaBowl XXV, their first of back-to-back world championships. 

That's the challenge moving forward in their pursuit of a third straight title. The good news for Arizona is that the team has a lock on the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the National Conference playoffs. The Rattlers will host either the Portland Thunder or LA KISS.

Spokane, which has won three straight games, is the No. 3 seed and will travel to San Jose for a first-round matchup against the SaberCats.

Spokane trailed Arizona by as many as 21 points in the first quarter, but the game evolved into an instant classic, as the Shock stormed back with 50 second-half points. 

The Rattlers had the ball, trailing 73-66 with 10.5 seconds left, but their hopes of pulling out the victory and sweeping the three-game season series with the Shock were dashed when Nick Truesdell stepped in front of a Nick Davila pass and dropped to the turf as time expired.

Moments earlier it appeared Arizona might silence the raucous crowd inside the arena dubbed "Deaf Valley." Down 66-58 with 29.9 seconds left, Davila competed a 10-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Kerry Reed, then found wide receiver Tysson Poots on the two-point conversion to tie the score 66-66.

But Spokane quarterback Erik Meyer, the reigning AFL MVP, came right back with a 27-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Rashaad Carter to give the Shock at 73-66 lead with 10.5 seconds left.

The loss spoiled several outstanding performances for the Rattlers. Davila finished with 388 yards and nine touchdowns on 27-of-39 passing. Wide receivers Maurice Purify caught 10 passes for 155 yards and three touchdowns, while wide receiver Rod Windsor hauled in 10 catches for 149 yards and three scores. It was Windsor who was on the receiving end of a 48-yard bomb from Davila on the first play of the game.

Meyer, meanwhile, finished with 292 yards and six touchdowns on 25-of-38 passing. He also ran for two more scores, but he also was intercepted twice by defensive back Marquis Floyd and once by defensive back Jeremy Kellem. Wide receiver Mike Washington led the Shock with 11 catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns.

In the end, three fumbles and two interceptions, coupled with 13 penalties for 96 yards, were too much for the Rattlers to overcome.