TUCSON, Arizona – The Tucson Sugars Skulls found the gap between the first-year franchise and the unbeaten Arizona Rattlers was still too far to travel in the third meeting between the two teams.
The Rattlers kept the Sugar Skulls offense out of the end zone on three straight possessions in the first half to build a 16-point lead and kept Tucson at a distance the rest of the way in a 62-47 victory before a crowd of 4,828 at Tucson Arena. It was the Sugar Skulls’ second-largest crowd of the season.
The loss tightens the playoff chase for the SugarSkulls who are 6-6 and in fifth place, one game ahead of Nebraska and Quad City. Six teams earn playoff berths.
The Sugar Skulls opened the scoring on a 13-yard pass from Jake Medlock to Jeremiah Harris. but Tucson managed only two field goals and turned the ball over on downs on their next three possessions. Meanwhile, the Rattlers scored a touchdown on every possession in the game except those at the end of the first half and the end of the game when they got the ball with only seconds left.
“We weren’t physical enough on either side of the ball,” said Head Coach Marcus Coleman. “To be frank I think they bullied us today. That’s what they do. They tackled well. They covered us well.”
Rattlers quarterback Drew Powell was efficient throwing the ball and effective carrying it. He was13 of 15 for 180 yards and five touchdowns through the air. He led his team rushing with 83 yards and he ran for two more touchdowns.“
Beyond the physical things that he has and all the athleticism, in his mind, he feels like and he plays like he’s the best the player in the room,” Coleman said. “You can see it.”
The Sugar Skulls gave themselves a semblance of hope when Medlock and wide receiver Shaq Curenton connected on a 2-yard jump pass for a TD with 11 seconds left in the first half to cut theRattlers’ lead to nine. But Arizona scored on their first possession of second half, held the SugarSkulls to a missed field goal, and scored again to build a 41-19 lead. They were not threatened the rest of the way.
Tucson now heads into a bye week before facing the Rattlers for the fourth time this season when it travels to Phoenix on June 8. The Sugar Skulls close the season with what now looks like a game that could be for a playoff berth when Quad City visits on June 15.“
It would mean a lot to the organization to be able to be in the playoffs,” Coleman said. “It would be great for the city. It would be great for the organization if we could finish this off and get into the playoffs and maybe host a game.
Notes and Numbers
• With nine receptions, Jeremiah Harris has had multiple receptions in all four games he appeared in since joining the team four weeks ago.
• With two touchdown catches, Rico Brown has had four straight games with at least two TD receptions.
• Quarterback Jake Medlock threw five touchdown passes giving him 31 on the season. He entered the game fifth in the IFL in TD passes.