Rattlers open season with hard-fought win over Sioux Falls

PHOENIX — The defending Indoor Football League champion Arizona Rattlers opened the 2018 season in the same manner in which they ended 2017, with a victory over the Sioux Falls Storm.

In a rematch of the 2017 United Bowl, the Rattlers emerged with a 39-33 victory over Sioux Falls in the season opener in front of 12,477 fans at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

The Rattlers took the lead for good with 40 seconds left when Josh Gordon’s tackle of a Storm ball carrier jarred the ball loose and forced a safety, giving Arizona a 32-30 lead. The Rattlers recovered the onside kick and quarterback Jeff Ziemba scored a touchdown on the ensuing possession to put the game out of reach.

The Rattlers defense gave up 27 first-half points but limited Sioux Falls to a pair of field goals in the second half.

“I am proud of our guys, the way we handled adversity,” head coach and general manager Kevin Guy said.

Darrell Monroe led the Rattlers offense with 88 rushing yards and one touchdown on 18 carries.

Ziemba ran for one TD and passed for two – a 36-yarder to Anthony Amos Jr. and a 2-yard toss to Jamal Miles.

The Rattlers trailed 27-20 at the half but rallied twice to take the lead with 10 unanswered points in the third quarter on Miles’ touchdown reception and a 25-yard field goal by Sawyer Pitre.

The Storm countered with a field goal to tie it up with 13 minutes to play, and neither team would score again until Gordon’s hit forced the safety.

The Rattlers are on bye this week and return to action March 10 with a road game at Iowa (1-0).