Phoenix, Ariz.- The Arizona Rattlers (13-4) clinch a trip to the United Bowl in their inaugural Indoor Football League season, powering past the Nebraska Danger (9-8) by a score of 62-36 and became the 2017 Intense Conference Champions in front of 15,038 fans at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Downtown Phoenix.
"It does not matter how you start it is how you finish," Head Coach and General Manager Kevin Guy said. "We were 4-4 in the first half of the season and now we are in a position to play for a championship."
With this victory, the Arizona Rattlers are officially going to the United Bowl. The Rattlers now take on the six-time defending United Bowl Champion Sioux Falls Storm (15-2).
"You have to give the players all the credit," Guy said. "They have been buying in all year long."
The Rattlers and the Storm each won their respective championships by at least four possessions.
Tonight's game marked the third-time Arizona faced off against the Danger this season, and each matchup ended with the Rattlers on top. Arizona got the lead early, scoring 41 points while holding the Danger to 14 total points in the first half. The Rattlers never trailed.
Arizona quarterback Cody Sokol went 13-of-18 for 110 yards and four touchdowns in tonight's victory. RB Ketrich Harmon led the Rattlers in rushing with 60 yards on 11 carries and two total touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving. WR Anthony Amos had 52 yards receiving as well.
"I think we are really starting to believe and come together for this championship," Sokol stated after the game.
On defense, LB Justin Shirk had four and a half tackles, two of which for loss and one and a half sacks. DBs Allen Chapman and Dillion Winfrey each had an interception in tonight's contest. In the end, the Rattlers held Nebraska to only 36 total points and 22 yards on the ground.
"We made big plays, shut their running game down and shut their quarterback down," Shirk said. "We kept everything our front and did not let them have any big plays."
On special teams, WR Jamal Miles returned a 46-yard kickoff for a touchdown in the second quarter, and took back a missed field goal 52 yards at the end of the half. K Sawyer Petre was seven out of eight on point after touchdowns (PAT).
Nebraska quarterback Drew Powell went 14-22 with 129 yards and two touchdowns in tonight's game. Their leading receiver was Rob Brown with 54 yards and a touchdown reception.
The Rattlers struck first on the opening drive when Sokol threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to WR Anthony Amos.
Following a failed field goal attempt from Danger kicker Josh Gable, Arizona drove the length of the field and scored on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Sokol to RB Ketrich Harmon.
Nebraska QB Drew Powell scored the first points of the second quarter by rushing one-yard for the touchdown.
Immediately after the touchdown, Rattlers WR Jamal Miles returned the ensuing kickoff 46 yards for the score.
Danger wide receiver Eric Thomas responded on the following kickoff, by returning the kick 46 yards for the touchdown, pulling Nebraska within one possession.
The Rattlers extended their lead on a five-yard rushing touchdown from Harmon.
After forcing a turnover on downs, Arizona capitalized when Sokol threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Miles. Miles then returned a failed Nebraska field goal attempt 52-yards for a Rattlers touchdown to end the half.
The first points in the second half came by way of a Nebraska pick-six by DB Robert Brown.
Sokol began the fourth quarter by throwing a 12-yard Rattlers touchdown pass to RB Darrell Monroe.
Arizona added to their lead on a four-yard touchdown rush from Sokol.
Powell responded with a four-yard touchdown pass to Danger WR Carl Sims.
On the following possession, the Rattlers scored on a one-yard touchdown rush from WR Anthony Amos.
With two minutes remaining, Powell threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Brown giving Nebraska 36 points.
Rattlers QB Cody Sokol took a knee to end the game, sending the Rattlers to the United Bowl.
The Intense Conference Champion Arizona Rattlers will now attempt to knock off the reigning six-time champion Sioux Falls Storm (15-2) in the ninth installment of the United Bowl at the Denny Sandford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, SD. Game time is at 3:05 p.m. PDT on Saturday July 8th. The game can be seen live on YouTube.