Rattlers pull away from division-rival Blaze in second half to improve to 7-1 on season.
By FOX SPORTS ARIZONA FS Arizona
PHOENIX -- The Arizona
Rattlers pulled away for a 65-49 win over the division-rival Utah Blaze on Saturday night at US Airways Center in front of season-high 10,216 fans.
Rattlers quarterback Nick Davila went 19 for 31 for 208 yards with five touchdowns, while Blaze QB Tommy Grady went 25 of 50 for 302 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions. Odie Armstrong ran for two touchdowns and added another through the air for Arizona. Mario Urrutia had 9 catches for 174 yards and 3 touchdowns for Utah.
The Blaze (3-4) opened the game with a long, methodical drive that culminated in a touchdown pass to Aaron Lesué on fourth down. Urrutia then scored on a 39-yard catch and run after a Davila incompletion on fourth down to give Utah a quick 14-0 lead.
Virgil Gray got Arizona (7-1) going with a 56-yard kickoff return for a touchdown following the Blaze's score. Arkeith Brown then intercepted Grady on the ensuing possession, and Armstrong cashed in on the turnover on a short run to tie the game 14-14 at the end of the first quarter.
Gray and Brown continued to create big plays at the start of the second quarter. Gray ran down Lesué and stripped him from behind to force a fumble that was picked up by Brown in the end zone and returned 15 yards. Armstrong again turned the turnover into points on a short pass from Davila to give the Rattlers the lead.
Grady responded by connecting with Urrutia on an 18-yard touchdown pass, but that was answered by Davila on a 21-yard strike to Rod Windsor. Utah's next possession stalled early on an incompletion on fourth down by Grady. Davila capitalized, throwing a touchdown pass to Jared Perry with 41 seconds left in the half. The Blaze answered, though, as Chase Deadder made a nice grab in the end zone for a score with 18 seconds left. Garrett Lindholm misfired on a field goal to end the first half, but the Rattlers went into the locker room on top 35-28.
Utah gambled on an onside kick to start off the second half, but it was recovered by Arizona and turned quickly into points on a TD pass from Davila to Kerry Reed. Tyre Glasper and Cliff Dukes pressured Grady on the next Blaze possession, and Jeremy Kellem broke up a pass on fourth down to force a turnover. Trandon Harvey then joined in on the Arizona scoring with a 1-yard rush touchdown to put the Rattlers up 48-28.
The Blaze continued to struggle offensively on the next possession, as Grady threw four straight incompletions from the Rattlers' 20-yard line. But this time, the Rattlers offense could not convert the Blaze turnover into points, and Ben Stallings then got Utah back into it with a rushing touchdown at the end of a lengthy drive.
The Blaze again tried to gain an extra possession with an onside kick, but it was recovered by the Rattlers and turned into Windsor's second touchdown catch of the night. Another long drive by the Blaze was capped by Deadder's second touchdown of the game, and
Caesar Rayford stripped Davila on the next possession to set up Urrutia for his third touchdown, getting the Blaze back within a score.
With the pressure on, Lindholm connected on a 20-yard field goal on the ensuing possession to put the Rattlers up by 10. And that was as close as it'd get, as Arizona regained a comfortable lead after Marcus Pittman recovered a Utah fumble and Armstrong scored his third touchdown of the night.
Brown finished off the Blaze by picking off another Grady pass on the final possession.