Des Moines, Iowa – On a night that witnessed the induction of legendary quarterback Kurt Warner into the Barnstormers Hall of Fame, the Barnstormers could not keep up with the Arizona Rattlers who withstood a fourth quarter Iowa comeback to win 52-48 in front of 9,912 fans at Wellmark Field.
Iowa’s third home loss of the season drops the team to 3-4 while Arizona improves to 3-3.
The first AFL match-up between the Stormers and the Rattlers in nearly a decade started quietly as the Rattlers led 13-7 after one quarter of play on the strength of one-yard touchdown runs from Johnie Kirton and Nick Davila. The Barnstormers lone score in the opening quarter came when Tim Dodge was on the receiving end of a five-yard Ryan Vena pass in the back of the Rattlers’ end zone.
The Rattlers’ lead grew to 21-7 early in the second period as a Davila to Rod Windsor touchdown reception was followed by a successful two-point conversion. The Barnstormers answered with a pair of Jesse Schmidt touchdown receptions, but an Arizona field goal and late 4-yard touchdown run by Windsor sent Arizona into the half with a 31-20 lead.
The Stormers struck first in the second half as Vena found a wide-open Todd Blythe on a 24-yard scoring strike, drawing Iowa to within 31-27. Davila and Arizona answered on a Anthony Mix seven-yard touchdown reception. Iowa wasted no time as Vena and Blythe hooked up again, this time a two-yard catch that was the final score of the third quarter that closed the Arizona lead to 38-34.
The fourth quarter turned into a shootout after the Stormers gained the lead for the first time in the game on a Vena keeper from the one. Arizona grabbed the lead right back as Terrance Sanders ran the ensuring Iowa kickoff 57 yards for a score and a 45-41 Rattlers’ lead. Iowa answered on Vena’s sixth TD pass of the night, this time to Tommy Ellingworth from 20 yards. Iowa’s 48-45 lead did not last long as Davila found JJ McKelvey in the back of the Iowa end zone, giving Arizona a 52-48 lead with four minutes remaining in the game.
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the game – Nick Divila (ARI)
JSL Ironman of the Game – Todd Blythe (IOW)
Riddell Defensive player of the game – Riley Swanson (ARI)
Cutters Catch of the Game – Todd Blythe (IOW)
Nifty Playmaker of the Game – Rod Windsor (ARI)
Spalding Highlight of the Game – Terrance Sanders (ARI) - 57 yard kick return TD