In their 25th Anniversary season, the Arizona Rattlers rewarded their fans with their first title in the Indoor Football League (IFL).
The Rattlers moved from the Arena Football League (AFL) where they had lived for the previous 24 seasons to the IFL. The Rattlers defeated the Sioux Falls Storm 50-41 to win the United Bowl championship and denied the Storm of a seventh straight title.
Arizona looked like they would runaway with a total domination of the title game as they put up a 34-7 lead at halftime but held on and an interception in the final minute preserved the win.
The Rattlers defense did not allow a first half touchdown with the only score by the Storm coming on special teams. Justin Shirk (#30) had 1.5 sacks, a tipped ball, and was in Storm QB Lorenzo Brown’s face all night. His efforts earned him the United Bowl Most Valuable Player (MVP). Defensive back Arkeith Brown also had a big night, breaking up two passes and grabbing the game winning interception, returning it 46 yards.
The Storm climbed back into the game in the third quarter, scoring 21 unanswered points. WR Judd Harold pulled in a 17-yard touchdown pass from Brown. Shortly after Robbie Rouse ran seven yards for another score. The final score came from DL Brandon Peguese who picked off Sokol and returned it two yards for the touchdown.
The Rattlers finally got back on the scoreboard in the fourth with a seven-yard run by Monroe. Arizona was also able to follow that up with a 23-yard field goal by Sawyer Petre. Sioux Falls responded with a five-yard touchdown pass from Brown to Harold, pulling the Storm to within ten. The Rattlers then extended their lead, again off the foot of Petre, this time a 23-yarder. The Storm would again close the gap on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Brown to WR Mike Tatum. Petre came up big again for the Rattlers with 47-seconds left, kicking a 28-yard field goal to put the team up by nine. The Storm drove down the field one last time, but was picked off by DB Arkeith Brown, who returned it 46-yards.
The Rattlers started the season at 4-4 but went on a 10-game winning streak on their way to the title. It was the first championship for the Rattlers since winning the ArenaBowl in 2015.
The question now is will the Rattlers stay in the IFL or will they return to the AFL if there is stability in the league? There has been no word of it to this point. As indoor leagues continue to evolve, it would seem that the IFL is a more stable organization at this time.