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SALT LAKE CITY - The Utah Blaze (5-3) suffered their first division loss of the season, 83-69, at the hands of the Arizona Rattlers (2-6) on Friday night in front of a season-high 15,313 fans at the EnergySolutions Arena.
"We just have to get tougher physically and mentally," said Blaze head coach/general manager DANNY WHITE. "We won't go anywhere this year unless we do. We have the toughest part of our schedule coming up, and we have to turn it around right now."
The Rattlers started the scoring with a one-yard run by FB/LB BO KELLY. On the drive, Rattlers QB and Offensive Player of the Game, SHERDRICK BONNER, became the first QB in AFL history to have thrown for 2,000 yards in 12 seasons. Bonner finished the evening by completing 17-for-19 passes for 348 yards, nine touchdowns and no interceptions.
Both teams traded scores until the second quarter when DB MICHAEL DAVIS recovered two onside kicks to give the Blaze a temporary lead. The lead was short lived as a missed Utah FG was returned for a touchdown by the Rattlers. The Rattlers outscored the Blaze 14-7 in the third quarter and Utah couldn't find the momentum to regain the lead.
WR/DB RANDY GATEWOOD earned Ironman of the Game honors by recording six receptions for 118 yards and five touchdowns. On defense, he added 1.0 tackle. DB KEYUO CRAVER was named Defensive Player of the Game as he recorded 9.0 tackles, one forced fumble and three pass breakups.
Blaze QB JOE GERMAINE finished the night by completing 34-of-51 passes for 433 yards, nine touchdowns and no interceptions. WR SIAHA BURLEY had a career night finishing with a personal-best 16 receptions for 218 yards and four touchdowns.
The Rattlers sealed the deal by outscoring the Blaze 21-14 in the fourth quarter. The Blaze take on another Western Division opponent next Saturday as they travel to San Jose to play the SaberCats at 8:30 p.m. MT.