Vardaman’s Odie Armstrong and his Arizona Rattlers win Arena Bowl title

By The Associated Press

Rattlers win Arena Bowl 72-54 over Soul

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Maurice Purify redeemed his playoff letdown from last season.

He caught a record seven touchdown passes and the Arizona Rattlers won the Arena Bowl with a 72-54 win over the Philadelphia Soul on Friday night.

Vardaman’s Odie Armstrong is a member of the Arizona Rattlers.

“It’s not about the record, not about the touchdowns,” said Purify, who played college ball at Nebraska and was the 2011 Arena Football rookie of the year with Georgia. “Records can be broken, but no one that can take away that ring.”

Arizona won its third league championship and first since 1997.

Purify, who averaged a league-best 128.8 yards receiving per game this season, had nine catches for 143 yards and broke the previous record of five scoring catches.

Rattlers quarterback Nick Davila tied an Arena Bowl record with nine touchdown passes. He completed 23 of 30 passes for 266 yards.

Philadelphia, which had a league-best plus-23 turnover margin in the regular season, committed three turnovers on its first four possessions, leading to 17 Arizona points. The Rattlers led 27-13 at halftime and scored touchdowns on their first seven possessions of the second half.

“I’m so proud of our players,” Arizona coach Kevin Guy said. “They were so focused all week. I was very impressed with the professionalism of these guys.”

On the game’s first possession, Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh’s pass was tipped three times before Rattlers linebacker Kevin McCullough intercepted and returned to the Soul 22. Six plays later, Davila and Purify combined for their first score on a 4-yard pass.

Early in the second quarter, Arkeith Brown picked off a fourth-down pass by Raudabaugh in the end zone and returned it 21 yards. On the next play, Davila found a streaking Purify down the right sideline for a 29-yard touchdown, giving Arizona a 21-6 lead.

Brown picked off Raudabaugh again two plays later, setting up the first of two field goals by Chris Gould, the younger brother of Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould.

“They made plays when the ball was in the air,” Raudabaugh said. “They did a good job of getting hands in the throwing lanes.”

Arizona worked with a short field for much of the second half as the Soul was unsuccessful on four onside kick attempts.

Raudabaugh finished 26 of 42 for 285 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions. Larry Brackins had four touchdown catches for the Soul, which had a league-best 15-3 record this season.

“Arizona was well prepared and very disciplined,” Philadelphia coach Doug Plank said. “As exciting as it was to get to the Arena Bowl, the last thing you want to do is lose.”