VooDoo no match for Rattlers big third quarter

NEW ORLEANS — Arizona Rattlers earned their fifth win of the season on Saturday with a 47-39 victory over the New Orleans VooDoo at the Smoothie King Center.

Arizona started sluggish, scoring only 20 first-half points, and trailed at the end of the half by four. A strong third quarter on all three sides of the ball propelled the Rattlers to victory.

This is Rattlers head coach and general manager Kevin Guy’s 84th regular season win, which pushes him to sixth place overall in all-time regular season wins. He passes current Washington Redskins’ coach Jay Gruden.

The Rattlers started the game short-handed. The 2014 league MVP quarterback Nick Davila is still on injured reserve.  Star wide receiver and iron man Kerry Reed also sat out Saturday night’s game due to a pulled hamstring. Six year veteran nose tackle Anttaj Hawthorne began the week on a four game league suspension. It has since been reduced to one game, however he still had to miss Saturday night’s game.

Rattlers quarterback BJ Coleman once again had stretches of inconsistency, but still had a strong enough game to earn the win and the Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game. He was 18 for 31 passing with 4 touchdowns and 160 yards.

Arizona defensive back AJ Cruz started the scoring for the Rattlers with a 57 yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter, which earned him the AFL Highlight of the game. This would be the last time New Orleans would kick off to him in the first half, opting instead to have former Rattler, now VooDoo kicker Garrett Lindholm to kick on-sides twice and squib it once.

The Rattlers first half play made it look like the missing players were just too much for them to bear. However, Arizona came out in the third quarter and once again looked like the defending ArenaBowl champions. Offensively they scored 20 points, twice on passes from Coleman (one to wide receiver Rod Windsor, and the other to wide receiver Darrin Moore), and once on a 5 yard run from fullback Mykel Benson. Defensively, the Rattlers held the VooDoo out of the end zone in the third.

The Riddell Defensive Player of the Game, defensive back Marquis Floyd, got his first interception of the season late in the third quarter. Last season, Floyd had a career high with 13 interceptions, and like this season, he did not get his first pick until later in the season. It was not until week nine that he got that interception. Along with the interception, Floyd ended the game with 6 tackles, 1 pass breakup, and 1 forced fumble.

The Rattlers’ next game will be at 6 p.m. May 16, when they return home to seek revenge on the Las Vegas Outlaws (3-2). This will be the first time the two teams face each other since the Outlaws knocked off the Rattlers in week 2. The game will be televised on FOX Sports Arizona.