By Marcelo Metzelar
Someone got their seventh ring in Gila River Arena! In an upset victory, the Sioux Falls Storm’s defense rained over the Rattlers’ offense to claim the United Bowl XI trophy, Saturday night in Glendale, 56-53.
The game started off with a quick six play scoring drive for Sioux Falls to get an early seven to nothing lead. This would be the last time the Storm held the lead for the first half. The Rattlers answered back converting two third downs and a Jarrod Harrington three yard run to tie the game up at seven. Harrington would lead all rushers with 32yds and added four kickoff returns for 131 yards.
The Rattlers’ Allen Chapman would force a fumble on the ensuing kick off and Dez Stewart would recover to give a first and goal on the Sioux Falls five yard line. Jamal Miles would power his way for two yards and the Rattlers led 14-7.
The Storm offense answered quickly when Lorenzo Brown Jr. found Brandon Sheperd for 40 yards to tie the game at 14 with 1:33 left in the first quarter. Brown would end the game 15 for 19, 200 yards and five touchdown passes. He also gained 19 yards on the ground from nine carries with a rushing touchdown.
Arizona worked a methodical nine play, 30 yard drive capped by a Drew Powell one yard run for a 21-14 lead. But the Storm’s lightning quick response would tie it up again in two plays. The Rattlers would bite back with a two play scoring drive of their own and regain the lead 28-21.
Sioux Falls would take advantage of an early third down conversion on their next possession and QB Brown took the ball into his own hands and rushed for six yards, and for the fourth time in the half, the score was tied.
Jarrod Harrington returned the next kickoff for 26 yards and give the Rattlers great field position with under a minute to help take the lead. However, the Sioux Falls defense held strong coming up with two consecutive plays for losses that moved the ball back 13 yards; and what was second and goal from the three became a fourth and goal from the 16. The Rattlers’ Jimmy Camacho would put the ball through the uprights with no time remaining the first half, and the Rattlers confidently jogged to the locker room with a 31-28 lead. Camacho finished the game six for six on extra points and a field goal for nine total points.
The early turnover proved dangerous as now the Storm had to kick off opening the second half. Harrington took the ball on first and 10 and scampered for 29 yards and a shoestring tackle made it first and goal on the Sioux Falls seven. Powell then found Jamal Miles for an eight yard touchdown and gave the Rattlers a commanding 10 point lead.
Sioux Falls came storming back with a three play drive to bring the game back to within three. Sioux Falls defense would come up big on the next series as they forced an incomplete pass on a fourth and goal on the five. Though, not considered a “turnover,” it is called a turnover on downs and this would be costly for the Rattlers.
Down only three, and new life Calen Cambell’s two yard run gave the Storm their first lead since the first series in the game to make it 42-38 in favor of the Storm.
The Rattlers kick return game came up big with a Harrington return for a touchdown; and the Rattlers, literally, wasted no time in regaining the lead.
The fourth quarter was good to the Storm as they opened with a five play 46 yard drive, ending with Campbell’s 26 yard reception from Brown – 49-45 Storm.
The Rattlers committed their first turnover when Powell got sacked by TJ Neal and Charles Williams finding the ball.
Sioux Falls put on an impressive 10-play 26 yard drive that ate up over six and half minutes of the fourth quarter and took an impressive 56-45 lead with 2:43 left in the game.
The Rattlers’ scored five plays later in only 1:50 to be down 56-53.
An onside kick by the Rattlers appeared to be successful, but the Rattlers’ Dillion Winfrey was too quick and was called for an offside penalty. As a result, Sioux Falls was awarded possession and after five plays, ran out the remaining 52 seconds and claimed their seventh United Bowl Trophy in eleven years!
The Storm’s defense blew through the Arizona offense for three sacks, one for two on fourth down conversions, held them nine points under their scoring average, and gave them their first loss of the season in the biggest game of the year.