Rattlers outlast Soul in season opener
PHOENIX — The 2012 AFL season ended with the Arizona Rattlers bringing home the Foster Trophy for the third time in franchise history, setting up what was bound to be an exciting rematch as they faced off against the ArenaBowl XXV foes, the Philadelphia Soul in the 2013 season opener. The outcome was much the same, as the Rattlers downed the Soul 66-52 in front of 8,524 fans on Ak-Chin Field at the US Airways Center on Saturday night.
The opening possession went to the Soul and QB Dan Raudabaugh (22-34, 323 yards, 5 TD, 1 INT). His first three pass attempts were incomplete, but on fourth down, he found an open Anthony “Tiger” Jones (9 catches, 169 yards, 3 TDs) to put the Soul on the board first.
Rattlers QB Nick Davila (22-34, 304 Yds, 7 TDs, 1 Rush TD) would not let too much time roll off the clock before he threw his first touchdown of the night to WR Jared Perry (6 catches, 91 yards, 2 TDs). Raudabaugh would toss two more scores in the first quarter, including another to Jones, while Davila would throw another to WR Maurice Purify (10 catches, 141 yards, 3 TDs). The Soul led 19-14 at the end of the first quarter.
The scoreboard continued to light up in the second quarter. Raudabaugh would throw his fourth touchdown of the night to WR Alvance Robinson (5 catches, 97 yards, 2 TDs), but not before FB Derrick Ross (18 yards, 3 TD) rushed for his first score of the season. Davila helped his cause in the second quarter by tossing two more touchdowns and rushing for one as well. After two quarters of play, the Rattlers (1-0) went into the locker room with a 35-32 lead.
Davila and company started off somewhat slow to begin the third quarter, but he eventually found Perry in the end zone for his second touchdown of the night. It was all Arizona after that. The big guys up front for the Rattlers forced Ross to fumble, and that led to three more points for Rattlers. Davila would add another touchdown late in the third, and Ross would rush his second one in as well.
The Soul started the fourth quarter with excellent field position, but that was negated when defensive lineman Marcus Pittman picked up a Ross fumble and returned it 44 yards for touchdown. After another Ross touchdown, the Soul recovered a successful onside kick and quickly put up another score closing the gap to 59-52.
The next onside kick did not have the same result, though, and that turned into another touchdown from Davila to Purify, putting the Rattlers up 66-52 with just over a minute left in the game. Rattlers defensive back Marquis Floyd sealed the game by picking off Raudabaugh in the end -zone with just over 30 seconds left.