Grand Island, Nebraska. – The six-time world champion Arizona Rattlers (11-3) defeated the Nebraska Danger (4-10) in the final game of the regular season by a score of 59-23 at Eihusen Arena in Grand Island, Nebraska. The win earns the Rattlers home field advantage for at least the first round of the playoffs.
The Rattlers took command of the game early, scoring 13-straight points, and never relented. Arizona's offense, defense, and special teams all put points on the board in a 36-point win.
The Rattlers offense consisted mostly of the run game, with RB Darrell Monroe leading the way with 88 yards and three touchdowns. QB Verlon Reed, who came in for QB Jeff Ziemba midway through the second quarter, also had a big night on the ground, rushing for 77 yards and four touchdowns.
LB Davontae Merriweather led Arizona on defense with six tackles and two interceptions. DE Josh Gordon also had six tackles and recorded two sacks. The Rattlers defense also put points on the scoreboard by way of a safety in the third quarter.
Jamal Miles came up big on special teams, returning a missed field goal 58 yards for a touchdown. He also had 50 kickoff return yards. Jarrod Harrington also added a big return on kickoff, going 37 yards.
Nebraska brought QB Tracy Scroggins in early in the second quarter to replace QB Greg Hankerson Jr. Scroggins completed 10-of-17 for 111 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also added 34 yards rushing.
A 37-yard return on the opening kickoff put the Rattlers in a good position on their first drive. Monroe would finish the drive with a 3-yard run to put them up 7-0. After a three-and-out by Nebraska, Monroe would again run the ball in, this time a five-yard rush. The point after was missed and the Rattlers quickly held a 13-0 lead.
Nebraska again was held scoreless on their next possession, missing a 35-yard field goal. However, DL Davion Belk would strip Ziemba of the ball and jump on the fumble in the end zone, pulling the Danger within six.
After an interception by LB Davontae Merriweather, Arizona would add a field goal, an 18-yarder by Sawyer Petre. After another forced 3-and-out, WR Jamal Miles returned the missed field goal attempt 58 yards for the touchdown.
The Danger would get their first offensive points of the game with only 3 minutes left in the first half off an 18-yard field goal by K Brad Hatfield.
QB Verlon Reed relieved Ziemba near the end of the half, and on 4th-and-1 he ran the ball 25 yards for the score.
A tackle in the end zone by DB Nathan Lindsey on the kickoff added a rouge point for the Rattlers. The half would end with the score 31-10; Arizona.
The Danger drove down the field at the beginning of the second half, but Merriweather's second interception of the evening at the goal line would end Nebraska's drive. Five plays later, Monroe would run it in from 3 yards out.
Nebraska quarterback Scroggins was pressured on his first play from scrimmage and threw it away in the end zone while still in the pocket, and was ruled intentional grounding, giving the Rattlers two more points and the ball.
Rattlers would take advantage with Reed rushing the ball 10 yards for the score. Arizona would now lead 45-10.
Nebraska would finally get back on the board as the third quarter expired from a three-yard touchdown pass from Scroggins to WR Kenzel Doe.
Arizona would again extend their lead after two consecutive seven-yard touchdown runs by Reed.
The Danger scored from a 19-yard touchdown pass by Scroggins to WR Donta Armstrong to make the final score Arizona 59, Nebraska 23.
Because of the win, the Rattlers will return home on Saturday, June 23rd to face the Sioux Falls Storm, the team they defeated in the 2017 United Bowl. The game will kick off at 6:05 p.m. PDT at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.
For more information, head to azrattlers.com.