Phoenix, Ariz. – The six-time world champion Arizona Rattlers (3-1) defeated the Nebraska Danger (3-1) by a score of 62-49 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. The Rattlers now possess a share of first place in the Indoor Football League (IFL) standings.
Rattlers Head Coach and General Manager Kevin Guy saw some big improvements from his players that can be built upon going forward.
"I thought we beat a good football team tonight," Guy said. "We came out ready to play with some confidence. I saw some guys having fun out there, and I'm very proud of the men and how they executed."
The Rattlers offense exploded for 62 points, led by QB Jeff Ziemba, who threw for 119 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions. RB Shadrach Thornton rushed for 86 yards and three touchdowns. WR Anthony Amos, RB Darrell Monroe, and WR/RB Jamal Miles were all able to find the end-zone as well, and K Sawyer Petre added two field goals.
Ziemba, who faced a steep learning curve after replacing the injured QB Verlon Reed Jr. in the home opener, showed big signs of improvement and maturity tonight.
"The game is starting to slow down a lot for me," Ziemba said. "Coaches are starting to break it down for me, going through progressions, getting my feet quicker, getting through my reads and finding the right guys."
Defensively, the Rattlers made enough plays to hold the lead all game long. LB Ryan Langford, DT Justin Martin, and DE Joshua Gordon all had a sack, and Gordon also had an interception. Leading tacklers for the Rattlers were Lindsey (6), Merriweather (6), Chapman (6), and Langford (5).
For the Danger, QB Jesse Scroggins threw for 233 yards and two touchdowns with one interception and 3 rushing touchdowns. WR Eric Thomas caught 87 yards and one touchdown, and RB Angelo Pease scored two touchdowns.
Nebraska's defense was led by LB Myke Tavarres, who had 8 tackles and one tackle for loss. DB Nick Brassell added 7 tackles, and on special teams, Korey Ringer had 209 return yards and averaged 20.9. yards a return.
In the opening kickoff, Rattlers DB Nathan Lindsey forced a fumble that was recovered by kicker Sawyer Petre. The Rattlers would quickly take advantage of the turnover with a 17-yard rushing touchdown from Shadrach Thornton.
The Danger came right back and tied it on a three-play drive that was capped off by a three-yard rushing touchdown by Nebraska QB Jesse Scroggins.
The Rattlers responded with a quick drive of their own. QB Jeff Ziemba threw a 34-yard touchdown to Anthony Amos, his fifth of the season, giving the Rattlers a 14-7 lead.
Nebraska quickly found themselves in the red zone after a 22-yard kick return from Korey Singer. The Danger eventually found the end zone when RB Angelo Pease punched it in from three yards out, tying the game at 14.
The Rattlers offense responded with a 12-yard receiving touchdown from Jamal Miles, Ziemba's second of the game, giving the Rattlers a 21-14 lead.
The Rattlers defense came up big at the start of the second quarter by blocking a long Nebraska field goal that was recovered by LB Ryan Langford, setting up Thornton's second touchdown of the game, extending the Rattlers lead to 28-14.
After another missed field goal from Nebraska, Ziemba threw his third touchdown of the game to Amos, his second of the day, extending the Rattlers lead to 35-14.
Nebraska QB Jesse Scroggins connected with WR Eric Thomas for 23 yards that led to Scroggins second rushing touchdown of the game.
The Rattlers responded with Thornton's third touchdown of the game, extending the lead to 42-21 at halftime.
The Danger were the first to score in the second half after a 43-yard touchdown from Scroggins to Thomas, making it 42-28.
The Rattlers running attack put together a solid drive that resulted in a 2-yard touchdown run from Darrell Monroe, pushing the Arizona lead back to 49-28 midway through the third quarter.
After a costly Rattlers penalty, Scroggins sneaked in his third rushing touchdown of the game to make it 49-35 Arizona.
After exchanging missed field goals, Rattlers K Sawyer Petre was able to make one from 41 yards out to add to the Rattlers lead, 52-35.
Nebraska responded quickly with a two-play touchdown drive after Scroggins threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Angelo Pease, trimming the Rattlers lead to 10 with five minutes remaining.
Petre extended the Rattlers lead to 13 after hitting a 21-yard field goal with 1:17 remaining.
A late touchdown from both teams (Monroe, AZ) (Thomas, NE) brought the final score to 62-49, Rattlers victory.
The Rattlers will conclude a three-game home stand next Saturday, March 31st against the Cedar Rapids Titans (1-4). Cedar Rapids will be coming off a 59-45 home-loss to the Iowa Barnstormers. The game will kick off at 6:05 p.m. PDT at Talking Stick Resort Arena, and will be televised on Fox Sports Arizona Rattlers Channel, streamed on YouTube Live and the Fox Sports GO app, and can be heard on 1580 The Fanatic 99.3 FM and 95.9 FM.