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Rattlers suffer costly 55-50 loss to Vegas


HENDERSON, Nev. — With an opportunity to possibly move into second place in the IFL's Western Conference, the Arizona Rattlers are now out of the playoff picture entirely at the end of the weekend.

The Rattlers saw two crucial sequences prove extremely costly in a 55-50 setback to the Vegas Knight Hawks on Saturday night at Lee's Family Forum.

With a chance to go up by two scores in the final minute of the first half, the Rattlers instead turned the ball over on downs and allowed Vegas to score and take the lead at the break. Later in the second half, Rattlers QB Dalton Sneed lofted a bomb downfield where Knight Hawks DB James Ceasar made a remarkable one-handed interception in the end zone to flip momentum in a back-and-forth game.

Down by 12 with 3 minutes left, Arizona drove the field and Corey Reed Jr. caught a touchdown from Sneed on fourth down to bring the Rattlers within five points. But an onside kick attempt by Dawson Evitts was unsuccessful and the Knight Hawks ran out the clock to advance their record to 9-3.

Arizona led 22-13 in the second quarter before the Knight Hawks stole the momentum with a 14-0 run to end the first 30-minute stanza.

The Rattlers were led by running back Shannon Brooks, who tallied 4 rushing scores and 43 rushing yards on the night. Sneed was 19-for-31 for 258 yards, 3 TDs and 2 INTs. The loss was Sneed's first ever in the Henderson venue — he was 3-0 previously at the location including winning last year's title game there with the Bay Area Panthers.

Reed Jr. had 116 receiving yards and one score. Traevar Ferrell and Jarmaine Doubs each snagged an interception for Arizona.

Vegas QB Ja'Rome Johnson was the star of the show for the home team with 8 total TDs (4 rushing, 4 passing). Wide receiver CJ Windham caught 5 passes for 102 yards and three scores.

The loss dropped the Rattlers two spots in the West standings. At 8-5 (5-5 conference record), the Rattlers find themselves in 5th place in the West as of Sunday night. The top 4 teams in each conference make the playoffs.

Northern Arizona beat San Antonio 74-68 on Sunday at home, meaning the Wranglers  leapfrogghed Arizona and San Diego into third place. The Rattlers have 3 games left in the regular season and have a favorable schedule compared to NAZ and SD, but Arizona now will need help from others to qualify for the postseason.

The Rattlers return to the Snake Pit in Glendale on Saturday, June 29 for a 6:05 p.m. kickoff against the Iowa Barnstormers (4-8).