Rattlers' win streak ends with loss to Sabercats

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The Arizona Rattlers had their nine-game winning streak ended Saturday night with a 72-42 loss to the division-rival San Jose SaberCats.

SaberCats quarterback Russ Michna was dominant in the win, going 24 for 37 passes for 313 yards and nine touchdowns, giving him two consecutive games with that many scoring passes. The San Jose defense defense also came up big, forcing a pair of turnovers and posting two more stops, limiting Arizona to a season-low 42 points and holding Rattlers QB Nick Davila to only 238 yards on 22-of-41 passing with a season-low four scores and one interception.

"We've got a lot of leaders on this team," said San Jose coach Darren Arbet following the key divisional win. "The guys were disappointed with what happened last week (in Iowa) and they said they were going to be great tonight. We all said that's what it's going to take to beat the champions. The guys played great and it was our night."

Davila and the Rattlers (12-2) opened the scoring with a 1-yard rushing touchdown on a keeper to put Arizona on top early. It was Davila's fourth score on the ground this season. The SaberCats (9-4) answered on their first drive with a 30-yard bullet from Michna to Fred Williams to tie things at 7. It was Williams' 10th consecutive game with a TD catch, and he would end the night with 10 catches for 121 and a career-high five touchdown receptions.

The offenses traded another pair of touchdowns later in the quarter, with Davila finding receiver Kerry Reed from 6 yards out and Michna connecting with Amarri Jackson on a 19-yard equalizer to make it 14-14.

Arizona opened up the second quarter with another score, as Tysson Poots reeled in a Davila pass in the back of the end zone to once again put the Rattlers ahead. The Arizona defense nearly forced the first defensive stop of the game during San Jose's next possession, however a clutch 17-yard catch by receiver Jason Willis on fourth-and-13 kept the drive going and allowed the SaberCats to tie it at 21 when Willis made a 7-yard grab over the boards in the end zone. The momentum instantly swung San Jose's way, and the defensive front was able to pressure Davila enough to force a key turnover on downs on the 11-yard line. The 'Cats made the defensive stop count on the first play from scrimmage, with Michna finding Williams streaking across the middle of the end zone to make the score 28-21 and give San Jose its first lead of the evening.

The Rattlers were once again unable to move the chains on their next possession, turning the ball over on downs. And yet again, Michna capitalized on the turnover and found Williams alone in the end zone for the pair's third touchdown connection of the half, extending the San Jose lead to 35-21, which would be all the scoring for the first 30 minutes.

Williams' dominance carried into the second half, when he logged his career-high fourth receiving score of the night on a 2-yard pass from Michna to give the SaberCats a 42-21 advantage, Arizona's largest deficit of the season. The Rattlers were able to respond and cut the deficit to 42-28 on Davila's second rushing touchdown of the game, but Williams put a damper on the comeback on the following drive when he reeled in a 10-yard Michna throw to put San Jose ahead 49-28.

The SaberCats effectively put it away on the following possession when Ken Fontenette, who finished the night with a game-high eight and a half tackles, hauled in a wayward Davila pass and brought the interception back 20 yards to the house to make it 56-28. Arizona's offensive woes continued when Davila was forced to intentionally ground the ball in the end zone on the next possession, resulting in the SaberCats' third safety of the year. And after getting the ball back, San Jose scored again on a 1-yard Huey Whittaker reception, widening the lead to 65-28.

The Rattlers and SaberCats traded scores on their first possessions of the fourth quarter, as Davila found Reed 6 yards out and Michna connected with Willis from the 15-yard line, making the score 72-35 midway through the final 15 minutes of regulation. Poots would get another 6-yard touchdown reception to bring the score to 72-42, and the Rattlers drove deep into SaberCats' territory in the final minutes, but San Jose forced a fumble in the end zone to seal the victory.

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