After the Power let one slip last week against Orlando, they knew the challenge that was in front of them Sunday night. Knowing that Cleveland had already lost, Pittsburgh knew with a win, they would be tied for first-place in the East Division with two games remaining. In the final regular season home game in front of 8,600 fans, the Power (8-8) came up on the losing end of a 68-34 score against the Arizona Rattlers (15-2).
It was an all-around sloppy performance by the Power on both sides of the ball as the Power committed 11 penalties for 66 yards and had four turnovers.
“It’s a tough loss, they scored on every possession they had and with four turnovers, you just can’t do that, especially against the best team in the league,” Coach Chris Siegfried told reporters.
As Siegfried said, the Power defense was unable to find a way to stop quarterback Nick Davila and the Arizona offense as they scored on each of their 10 possessions. The loss can’t all be placed on the defense however, as the Power offense didn’t help things early on. On the second play of the game, quarterback Bernard Morris threw an interception to Virgil Gray, allowing the Rattlers’ offense to drive to take an early 7-0 lead, a lead the Power would never conquer.
Jason Willis caught a quick-strike from Morris to start the second drive for the Power, but was quickly stripped by Gray again, giving the Rattlers a short-field at the Power’s 11-yard line. Davila hit Rod Windsor for another Arizona score and it was easy to see this game was getting out of hand.
Davila continued to impress this year going 22-35 for 214 yards and 8 touchdowns to four different players. This gives Davila an amazing 109 touchdowns to only 10 interceptions on the season. With the victory, Arizona clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Morris finished the game going 19-35 for 181 yards and 4 touchdowns including 1 interception and 2 lost fumbles. The offensive woes weren’t just on Morris though, as the Arizona defensive line manhandled the Power’s offensive line.
“We need to find out who wants to block. Guys need to understand the way they play on the field tells me how much they want to be here. If you don’t want to be here, we’ll find someone who does,” Siegfried said.
The lone bright spot for the Power was receiver Mike Washington who hauled in 3 touchdown receptions and had a 57-yard kickoff return for a touchdown as well.
The Power know what lies ahead of them as they get ready for the game this Friday against Cleveland and Coach Siegfried expects the team to be ready to play.
“It’s a must win. I can guarantee one thing; they’re going to play four quarters next week. The 21 guys we take to Cleveland are going to play four quarters and give it everything they got,” Siegfried proclaimed.
Defensive leader Gary “The Bully” Butler took this game to heart and is going to make sure the rest of his team is ready for Cleveland.
“We need to move on from tonight’s game, but me personally I’m going to download this game to my computer tonight and watch the film. I want to see who was fighting with me and who quit,” Butler said.
“It’s gut-check time. When a man questions another man’s heart, you have some looking around to do. We looked like a bunch of wimps tonight. It’s time to put this game behind us and focus on Cleveland,” Washington told the media.
With the Cleveland loss bringing them to 9-7, the Power look to take the season series from the Gladiators this Friday in Cleveland. With a win, the Power will move into a first-place tie and have the tie-breaker on the Gladiators going into the playoffs. A loss next week, well, that could be the end of the Power’s playoff hope.
“It’s almost as if no one wants this division, but we do. We need to make the adjustments from tonight and move on to Cleveland. The winner of the Pittsburgh-Cleveland game only needs to win their last game,” Siegfried said.
About the Author
Written by Michael Waterloo
I'm currently pursuing my Master's degree in Communication and Journalism from Clarion University. I currently work for Ohio Valley Athletics where I serve as the West Virginia Football Beat Writer and cover West Virginia Men's Basketball as well. I'm a big Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers and Oregon Ducks fan. Follow me on Twitter at @MichaelWaterloo or visit www.ovathletics.com