Rattlers dominate Orlando for 6th win in a row

Mykel Benson scored 2 touchdowns in the Rattlers victory.

Matt Hinshaw

PHOENIX  â€“ The Arizona Rattlers (12-3) extended their winning streak to six with a 62-45 win over the Orlando Predators (12-3) on Monday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

A strong second quarter defensively and an efficient offense kept the Rattlers out front for most of the game.

"They were trying to slow the game down, play for one or two stops and win the game in the 40s," said coach Kevin Guy. "At the end of the day, that’s not our style."

Nick Davila threw for seven touchdowns while completing 26 of 28 passes.

Rattlers quarterback Nick Davila had his most efficient game of the season, completing 26 of 28 passes for seven touchdowns and no interceptions.  He earned the Under Armour Offensive Player of the Game award.

"Nick was sharp tonight," Guy said.  "He did a great job of preparing himself and taking what the defense was going to give us.  We tried to make it a physical game, and we did make it a physical game."

Defensively, Arizona made big stops when they needed it.  In the second quarter, Jeremy Kellem picked off Orlando quarterback Bernard Morris off the net in the end zone. Overall, the Rattlers defense had a sack, seven pass breakups and a fumble recovery.

We played good up front, at the linebacker position, and the DBs as well," said Kellem.  "Our focus was to go out there and play Rattlers’ football, we knew we needed to win this game."

The Rattlers will take their six-game winning streak into their regular-season finale on Sunday at home against the Cleveland Gladiators (7-8).

"I like where we’re headed, I like how we’re peaking," Guy said.  "I like the football that we’re playing. I think the players are buying in to what we’re asking them to do."

The Rattlers and Predators went back and forth in the first, with Arizona scoring on passes from Davila to Rod Windson and Chase Deadder. But a missed extra point by Alex Zendejas enabled the Predators to end the quarter with a 14-13 lead.

The Rattlers defense came up big in the second period, holding the Predators scoreless.  Arizona scored two more TDs on a Davila-to-Deadder pass and a 1-yard run by Windsor for a 27-14 lead.

Davila added two more touchdown passes in the third period, to Windsor and Mykel Benson, and two more in the fourth on a 30-yard strike to Maurice Purify, who dragged three defenders into the end zone, and a 19-yarder to Anthony Amos.

The Rattlers needed to win by 19 to take the postseason tie-breaker from the Predators, but Orlando kicked a field goal with 5 seconds left to trim the final margin from 20 to 17.

"They didn’t play for the win, they just wanted to play for the point spread," Guy said. "At the end of the day, they still have to beat Philly and we still have to beat Cleveland, that’s all we have control over. I told the team not to worry about the point situation all week long, but if the opportunity presented itself then we would try to go for it."