PHOENIX — The last time the Arizona Rattlers and Jacksonville Sharks met in the desert was three years ago in ArenaBowl XXIV.
The Rattlers have long memories.
After losing to the Sharks on the final play of that championship game, Arizona (3-0) made sure it took care of business Saturday night, scoring early and often in a 63-38 victory over Jacksonville (1-2) in front of 8,586 fans at US Airways Center.
Rattlers quarterback Nick Davila completed 13 of 20 attempts for 211 yards and seven touchdowns, including three each to wide receivers Maurice Purify and Rod Windsor. Purify had a total of four receptions for 92 yards.
Purifyâs first touchdown catch — a 33-yarder on which he sidestepped Sharks defensive back Micheaux Robinson â gave the Rattlers a 28-7 lead early in the second quarter.
The play of the game, however, was provided by Arizona offensive lineman Michael Huey, who turned only his third career reception into a 21-yard touchdown catch â his first â on the second play of the contest.
After starting slowly in their first two games against Philadelphia and Spokane, the Rattlers took control from the start, running only 14 plays in the first quarter but racking up 144 yards and 28 points. At one point, Davila was 5 for 5 for 109 yards and three touchdowns.
Jacksonville wide receiver Terrance Smith kept the game interesting in the first half with a 45-yard touchdown catch to trim the score to 28-13. Smith then switched to defense and broke up a Davila pass on fourth down to give the Sharks another possession with less than a minute left in the half. Jacksonville marched down the field, but Rattlers defensive back Marquis Floyd broke up a pass as time expired.
Jacksonville quarterback R.J. Archer never could get into a rhythm. Under intense pressure from Arizona’s front line of Marcus Pittman, Cliff Dukes and Anttaj Hawthorne, Archer — who came into the game leading the league in passing efficiency with a rating of 133.1 — completed just 22 of 46 passes. He still managed to finish with 323 yards and six touchdowns, although he also threw one interception.
Sharks wide receiver Mardy Gilyard had five catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns.
Davila’s backup, Jason Murrieta, also got in on the action, throwing a 10-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Kerry Reed to provide the final touchdown and put the Rattlers over 60 points for the third straight game.