Rattlers take down Thunder for 5th straight win
PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Arizona Rattlers (9-2) earned their fifth straight win in Portland with a 69-42 victory over the Portland Thunder (3-8) Friday night in the Moda Center. The Rattlers remain undefeated against the Thunder.
The Rattlers started fast when defensive back and kick returner AJ Cruz returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. This was his first of two in which he returned touchdowns. Cruz also scored twice on offense, once on the ground and once in the air. His overall contributions earned him the J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game award, his second straight week earning that honor.
"(AJ) has done an outstanding job for us all year long," coach Kevin Guy said. "He is a difference maker for us; he plays both sides of the ball, and has done a great job for us."
Arizona's MVP quarterback Nick Davila had an incredibly efficient night. He only had five total receptions in the first half, however three of them went for touchdowns. Overall, Davila threw for 146 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions through three quarters of action. He was relieved in the fourth by quarterback Shane Boyd.
Rattlers' defensive back Jeremy Kellem kept his interception streak alive. He has now caught an interception in four straight games, and has 10 total interceptions on the year, which is a career high for Kellem. His interception and five tackles earned him the Riddell Defensive Player of the Game award, the fourth straight game he earned that honor.
"I couldn't be more proud of (Jeremy)," Guy said. "He worked his tail off all offseason. He is very committed. He comes out and works hard in practice, and it transitions to the game."
Kellem was not the only defensive player to make an impact in Friday's big win. Defensive backs Marquis Floyd and Arkeith Brown also each caught an interception. Defensive ends Mike McAdoo and Anthony McCloud both got a sack on the Thunder quarterback, while Mack Linebacker Tyre Glasper got two.
Portland starting quarterback Kyle Rowley had a rough night, throwing two first half interceptions. He was replaced in the second half by quarterback Alex Carder, who also threw a pick. Former Arizona and current Thunder wide receiver Jared Perry was one of the few bright spots for Portland. He went for 150 yards receiving and four touchdowns