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Arizona Rattlers' defense bounces back in win over Pirates

David Rodish Avatar
May 16, 2022

After Arizona Rattlers coach Kevin Guy saw his team get run over last week against the Tucson Sugar Skulls, physicality was emphasized through this week of practice.

On Saturday, the defense came out fast and physical in a 59-29 win against the Massachusetts Pirates, the team that defeated Arizona at Footprint Center in the IFL Championship in 2021.

“I’m proud of the guys, they played well,” Guy said. “They were physical, and that is who we are.”

The defense forced four turnovers – two interceptions and two fumbles – and held the Pirates’ offense under 30 points. 

“We didn’t play well last week, and mentally we weren’t in the game,” Guy said. “I thought the guys were going to rebound and they did.”

Chris McAllister was a major contributor to the defensive effort, recording five tackles, tackles for loss and a sack.

“We had a bad taste in our mouth (from) last week,” McAllister said. “It wasn’t a physical game; it wasn’t a good showing from us. Everybody takes to their self-accountability.”

McAllister, along with many on the team, left Tucson disappointed in his performance.

“I wanted to come out and play better for my team,” McAllister said. “I wasn’t happy with how I played in Tucson. It feels good to come out and make plays I know I’m capable of making.”

He led the defense to key plays in the first quarter and held the Pirates to just a field goal after 15 minutes.

“Offenses have a plan, and they want to come out and get points early,” McAllister said. “When you put ripples in that, it slows them down. It’s a good feeling to come out fast on defense early on. It energizes the offense. Everyone wants to get back on the field.”

Pressure from McAllister up the middle turned into big plays in the secondary.

“When the quarterback doesn’t have time, they throw it up instead of throwing it away,” defensive back Dillion Winfrey said. “Those guys up front make everything happen in the backend. This is one of the best front fours I’ve played with since being a Rattler.”

This performance comes from a game in which the unit allowed 72 points against Tucson.

“This is exactly how we thought it would go,” Winfrey said. “When we play Rattler football, when we play physical on special teams, offense and defense, we could beat them by more than 30.”

This was also the team’s first game back in Phoenix in almost a month. Being back at the Snake Pit helped set the tone defensively for the team.

Meanwhile, 2021 IFL MVP Drew Powell set the tone physically for the Rattlers. The No. 2 offense scored on all but two drives, one that ended in a fumble and the last drive of the game.

Powell found most of his success through running the football. He rushed for 47 yards and two touchdowns.

“We flipped the script with our mentality,” Powell said. “The offensive line was awesome; they’ve been doing that all year. They got a chance to show how they look going downhill.”

Following this game, the Rattlers will host the Frisco Fighters at Footprint Center on Saturday.

“I don’t care who they throw out there,” Winfrey said. “As long as we stay physical, as long as we’re locked into our assignment, it’s another win.”

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