Rattlers rout Soul to win their third ArenaBowl
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Maurice Purify caught a record seven touchdown passes as the Rattlers won the ArenaBowl with a 72-54 win over the Soul on Friday night.
For the Rattlers, it was the third league championship in franchise history and the first since 1997.
Purify, who averaged a league-best 128.8 yards receiving per game this season, had nine catches for 143 yards and broke the previous ArenaBowl record of five scoring catches.
“It’s not about the record, not about the touchdowns,” said Purify, who was the 2011 AFL rookie of the year with Georgia. “Records can be broken, but no one that can take away that ring.”
Rattlers quarterback Nick Davila tied an ArenaBowl record with nine touchdown passes. He completed 23 of 30 passes for 266 yards.
Philadelphia, which had a league-best plus-23 turnover margin in the regular season, committed three turnovers on its first four possessions, leading to 17 Arizona points. The Rattlers led 27-13 at halftime and scored touchdowns on their first seven possessions of the second half to pull away.
“I’m so proud of our players,” coach Kevin Guy said. “They were so focused all week. I was very impressed with the professionalism of these guys.”
On the game’s first possession, Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh’s pass was tipped three times before Rattlers linebacker Kevin McCullough intercepted it and returned it to the Soul 22. Six plays later, Davila and Purify combined for their first score on a 4-yard pass.
Early in the second quarter, Arkeith Brown picked off a fourth-down pass by Raudabaugh in the end zone and returned it 21 yards. On the next play, Davila found a streaking Purify down the right sideline for a 29-yard touchdown, giving the Rattlers a 21-6 lead.
Brown picked off Raudabaugh again two plays later, setting up the first of two field goals by Chris Gould.
The Rattlers worked with a short field for much of the second half, as the Soul were unsuccessful on four onside-kick attempts.
Raudabaugh finished 26 of 42 for 285 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions. Larry Brackins had four touchdown catches for the Soul, who had a league-best 15-3 record this season.
“Arizona was well prepared and very disciplined,” said Philadelphia coach Doug Plank, a former Rattlers assistant coach and broadcaster. “As exciting as it was to get to the ArenaBowl, the last thing you want to do is lose.”
The Rattlers finished 16-5.