Rattlers season abruptly ends in OT loss

PHOENIX — The Arizona Rattlers will not defend their United Bowl title after a 69-68 overtime loss Saturday to the Sioux Falls Strom.

The loss in the Intense Conference championship ends the Rattlers (11-4) seasons on game short of a second straight United Bowl appearance.

It was a back-and-forth game Saturday that saw several lead changes, as the two teams traded scores throughout. A missed field goal by Arizona led to overtime. A blocked extra point following a Rattlers touchdown was the difference, as the Storm scored on the first play of their extra-period possession and converted the point after to escape with a one-point victory.

The decision to run the clock down and kick the field goal at the end of regulation didn’t work out for the Rattlers, but coach Kevin Guy stood by his decision after the game.

“That was our decision to manage the clock that way,” Guy said. “I would manage it the same way again if we had to do it again. We’re not going to second guess ourselves. At the end of the day we got to execute as players on the field.”

It was another close loss for the Rattlers, who lost all four games this season by a total of 11 points. Guy thought a lot of his players made some big plays, but the mental mistakes are what kept them from finishing the game.

“At the end of the day, we just weren’t mentally tough enough to finish the game off,” he said. “We lost four games by a total of eleven points, and that speaks to mental toughness. We were just good enough to get beat.”

Rattlers QB Verlon Reed Jr. was 15 of 18 and threw for 158 yards and five touchdowns. WR Dezmon Epps and WR Anthony each caught two touchdowns, while WR Jamal Miles ran in two scores and caught another.

Despite missing a majority of the season, Verlon Reed stepped in and made a big impact on offense, which really stood out to Guy.

“We made the right move with putting Verlon in,” Guy said. “He had a great night tonight. Made some plays with his feet. He delivered time after time in tough situations and showed some mental toughness.”

Storm QB Lorenzo Brown Jr. went 13 for 22 and threw for 167 yards and four touchdowns. Brown also rushed for 72 yards and three touchdowns. WR Damons Powell caught two touchdowns, and RB Lyle McCombs scored twice.