The Portland Thunder (5-12) got their playoff practice in down in the desert, but the Arizona Rattlers (15-2) walked away from the game with the win, 66-55.
The Thunder defense started the game off right, with a rare stop of the Arizona offense on downs. The offense failed to capitalize, however, as they turned the ball over on downs in return. The Rattlers scored on their next drive and began to put the pressure on the Thunder offense to keep up.
The Thunder did manage to keep up through halftime – while the Rattlers took a 24-20 lead heading into the break, the Thunder capitalized on their first drive of the second half with a touchdown pass to Jamar Howard to take a 26-24 lead, but the game got away from the Thunder when the Rattlers held Portland on fourth down to take the ball, then hit on a 47-yard touchdown pass to assume control.
Portland's offense found some late success with Darron Thomas at the helm, scoring a couple of touchdowns in the game's final minute and adding a two-point conversion with the clock expired to provide the game's final margin.
Duane Brooks had a breakout game, catching 12 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown, while Douglas McNeil III continued to put the team in the end zone, picking up four touchdowns on nine receptions for 104 yards. Kyle Rowley finished the game with 311 yards and six touchdowns, but his one interception was a costly one, as Allen Chapman ran it back for a defensive touchdown to push the lead to three possessions.
Rod Windsor led the Rattlers with 11 receptions for 171 yards and four touchdowns as he extended his league-leading touchdown total to 43. Tysson Poots chipped in with seven receptions for 60 yards and three touchdowns.
Despite the loss, the Thunder earned a playoff spot this weekend as the San Antonio Talons defeated the Los Angeles KISS, 72-65, disqualifying the KISS from the playoff race. Portland will head to Arizona for a rematch with these Rattlers on August 3rd.
Release from Portland Thunder.