Phoenix, AZ- The Arizona Rattlers (1-0) came out victorious after a fierce rematch with the Sioux Falls Storm (0-1), 39-33 in a rematch of the 2017 United Bowl in front of 12,477 fans at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
The Arizona Rattlers Josh Gordon's safety proved to be the difference on Sunday. With :40 seconds left in the game after turning the ball over on downs, the Rattler defense came up big. Josh Gordon would level the ball carrier, which led to the ball bouncing around on the turf. Justin Shirk would chase down the ball before a Storm player would jump on it in the end zone to make it 32-30. On the ensuing on-side kick, the Rattlers would recover the ball and effectively seal the victory.
"I saw Josh out of the corner of my eye just rocked the quarterback the ball flew out," LB Justin Shirk said, "I just couldn't quite get my hands on it, but it ended up in the end zone."
The defense came up big all game. After allowing 27 points in the first half, the defense came out strong only allowing six points in the second half.
"I am proud of our guys, the way we handled adversity," Head Coach and General Manager Kevin Guy said.
Offensively, the Rattlers would rely on Darrell Monroe who produced 88 yards on 18 carries and one touchdown.
QB Jeff Ziemba, who went 5-13 with two touchdowns and two interceptions, he would rally the Rattlers with a 36-yard heave to Anthony Amos Jr. who made a one-handed catch to put the Rattlers ahead 20-19.
The Storm ended the half with a drive that resulted in a touchdown to regain the lead 26-20, and a Storm rouge to put the lead at 27-20.
Coming out of halftime, the Rattlers four-minute drive was capped off by a Ziemba to Jamal Miles two-yard toss, to tie the game once again.
After some tough defensive play from both teams, special teams would come up huge for Rattlers. Kicker Sawyer Petre would drill a 25-yard field goal to put the home team up 30-27 at the end of the third quarter.
Heading into the fourth quarter, the defenses took control again. A Storm field goal would tie the game at 30 all, with 13:00 minutes left. No more scoring would occur until the decisive safety that happened with :40 seconds left.
After the safety, Jeff Ziemba would keep it himself for the touchdown to put the game at 39-30 with :34 seconds left.
The Storm would make a 45-yard field goal with :10 seconds left to make the score final at 39-33.
For the Rattlers, the win moves them to 1-0 heading into the bye week. The Rattlers next game is March 10th when Arizona travels to the Iowa Barnstormers (1-0). The game will be broadcasted on Youtube Live. The next home game for the Rattlers will be March 18th, against the Green Bay Blizzard (0-1).