Arizona Rattlers

Snakes outlast the Skulls 44-37 in home finale

All Photos - Bill McCulloch/520 Sports Talk

(Glendale, AZ)  A contrast of two organizations, Tucson limps in at (2-11) and the host Rattlers flying high at (9-5) into the final home game at the Snake Pit here at Desert Diamond Arena.

Arizona looking ahead to playoffs is currently the #4 Seed in the Western Division. The San Diego Strike Force has the same record as the Rattlers, but holds the tie breaker and is Seeded #3.

Tucson will be relegated to play the spoiler in this contest, but really they’re looking for consistent play for four quarters. That’s been their downfall the entire season.

First Quarter

The game started out strangely as Tucson had the ball first and a near sack at their own two yard line turned into a broken play 39 yard touchdown. Skulls’ Quincy Patterson after getting away from pressure took it to the house and a 6-0 Sugar Skull lead after a missed extra point.

Undeterred, Arizona came right back on a Dalton Sneed dump off pass to Jamal Mies and up the far sidelines for the go ahead score. Rattlers led 7-6 before the arena seats even got warm.

Tucson next possession bogged down but still managed a thirty four yard field goal to regain the lead 9-7.

The Snakes benefited from a long kickoff return and the ball on the Tucson ten yard line. The Sugar Skulls defense stiffened and Arzona was looking at a fourth and goal from the three yard line. Sneed’s pass was nearly intercepted but dropped and the Skulls turned away the threat.

Tucson little success after the turnover and faced a fourth down of their own. With the momentum seemingly turning back to Arzona, Patterson threw a forty yard bomb to Brian Smith who all alone for an easy touchdown. The Skulls missed their second extra point and settled for a 15-7 lead with under two minutes left in opening quarter.

Special Teams for the Rattlers again were on point giving Arizona great field position.

Tucson owned the first quarter stats in total yards 86-53. The game started out very fast which usually favors the Rattlers.

Photo – Bill McCulloch/520 Sports Talk

Second Quarter

Arizona got themselves in a bind with an “umpire pick” penalty which put them in a fourth and long sitiuation. Their field goal attempt failed.

The Sugar Skulls dodged another bullet and turned down the heat on offense as they went into a ball control mode.

After a time consuming drive, Paterson used his legs to score from the six yard line and extended the Tucson lead 22-7.

Arizona with under two minutes left needed something positive but a Sneed interception snuffed out that drive.

Now it was the Skulls opportunity to steal some points before halftime after the pick. Three incomplete passes forced a weak thirty eight yard field goal attempt. Miles after almost being upended kept his balance for a touchdown to allow the Snakes to steal the points right before half. Tucson led 22-14 with 29.4 left.

Tucson has had problems all season protecting a lead and that special team’s play from the Rattlers was a classic example.

The Skulls went meekly into the half with a tenuous 22-14 advantage.

Arizona even though trailing at the intermission had the look of a team determined to right the ship heading into the second half where they had first crack at the football.


Third Quarter

The Snakes came out and had the ball at midfield after one play. Sneed was on the money through the air and poor tackling by Tucson made things worse.

Arzona made quick work of the opening drive as they score in five plays. Miles grabbed a five yard pass for the score. Suddenly, the Rattlers were just down a point 22-21.

The following kickoff Dawson Evitts kicked it through the uprights for a deuce and the Rattlers had the lead 22-21.

Tucson’s Devonte Sapp-Lynch went right up the gut thirty eight yards and nearly scored. A play later, the Sugar Skulls ran it in to go back on top 29-23 stopping the Snakes momentum with 9:00 still to go in the third quarter.

Sneed to Reed combo worked again as we had a see-saw battle with the Rattlers back on top 30-29.

The Sugar Skulls kept the pressure on with a solid kickoff return to the Arizona seven yard line.

The Snakes defense stepped up and got the turnover on downs, instead of a short filed goal attempt by Tucson. A huge opportunity to get points went awry to retake lead by the Skulls coaching staff.

Heading into the final quarter, it was all Snakes out scoring Tucson 16-7 and a 30-29 lead.

Fourth Quarter

First play of the final quarter saw Miles go wide on the handoff and scamper up the far sidelines to score virtually untouched to add to the Arizona lead 37-29.

Monsoon lighting struck as Mike Carrigan ran the kickoff return back fumbling at the two yard line and Robert Sheffield recovered and went the final yard into the end zone and after a two point conversion, we had a tie game 37-37 with 12:00 left.

Arzona came back as Reed scored on a three yard pass from Sneed and regained the lead 44-37 at the 4:55 mark.

The tide turned as Tucson’s Carrigan caught a short pass and was hit hard by Jarmaine Doubs dislodging the ball that was recovered by the Snakes’ Jaylen Perkins, and the Rattlers had the ball at the Tucson twenty four yard line and only 1:40 left on the clock.

From there on, Arzona ran out the clock to get the victory in their last home game of 2024. Final Score 44-34.

Northern Arizona won a thriller over Bay Area 47-46 to stay one game back of the Rattlers. Arizona has a bye next week and returns to action July 20th in San Antonio in the final regular season game.

Tucson has two games left and hosts San Antonio next Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Boneyard. The season finale pits the Sugar Skulls against the Knight Hawkes in Henderson Nevada on July 20th.

Today’s attendance was 9577 in Desert Diamond Arena.


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