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Rattlers Slay Gladiators’ Playoff Chances, 49-42

by Andrew Nordmeier
May 24, 2005 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I) - Arizona Rattlers

The Arizona Rattlers have known for a long time they weren’t going to the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. What they didn’t know was who they were going to knock out of the postseason.

The answer turned out to be the Las Vegas Gladiators as the Rattlers escaped the Thomas and Mack Center with a 49-42 win Sunday afternoon. The loss dropped Las Vegas to 8-8 and knocked them out as San Jose beat Georgia to go 9-7 on the year and claim the final berth in the American Conference.

Statistically, the Gladiators won this game. They out gained Arizona 321-204, held the Rattlers without a single net rushing yard and recovered three fumbles. Las Vegas scored in five of six trips to the red zone but it wasn’t enough to win.

Three turnovers of their own, one of which led to an Arizona touchdown and an early 14-0 lead, caused Vegas to miss out on the playoffs and the chance at the ultimate home game.

After Offensive Specialist Siaha Burley’s touchdown catch on the game’s opening drive put Arizona ahead 7-0, the Rattlers’ defense kicked in.

Two plays after Las Vegas returned the ensuing kickoff, Arizona lineman Wendell Gaines picked off Gladiators’ quarterback Clint Dolezel and ran it back 21 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 Rattlers’ lead 4:53 into the game.

After that, the two teams traded equal numbers of touchdowns the rest of the way and Vegas never got closer than seven points.

Rattler’s WR-DB Orshawante Bryant paced Arizona with seven catches for 97 yards and three scores. RB-LB Tom Pace added 63 yards on five catches. Burley scored touchdowns on his only two catches of the game which netted nine yards. Those receivers helped Rattler’s quarterback Sherdrick Bonner finish 20-of-29 through the air for 217 yards and six scores.

On the Vegas side of the stats, Dolelzel went 26-of-50 for 327 yards and five scores. He distributed the ball around nicely as eight different players had at least one catch. Offensive Specialist Marcus Nash led all players with eight grabs for 120 yards and two scores while WR-DB Joe Douglass’ five catches yielded 36 yards and three touchdowns.

Both teams’ seasons are over.

Notes: Arizona WR-DB Randy Gatewood led all players with eight tackles (seven solo) while teammate and Defensive Specialist Clarence Lawson added seven (five solo)…Arizona won six of its last eight games after starting 1-7 in the first half of the year…Five of Arizona’s nine losses came by five or fewer points…Arizona outgained Las Vegas on the ground despite not gaining a yard; Vegas finished with -4 yards rushing…Arizona was flagged seven times for 77 yards while Las Vegas was hit five times for 30 yards…Arizona held the ball for 12:06 of the second quarter but only held a 36-second edge in time of possession.

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