Rattlers improve in loss to Avengers (UPDATE)
By Andrew Snyder Staff Writer
ALLEN -- At home for the first time, the Collin County Rattlers gave the friendly crowd at Leopards Stadium an idea of where the young program is headed.
A week after their 35-0 loss to the Hunt County Longhorns on opening night, the Rattlers scored their premiere touchdown in an eventual 28-7 loss to the Fort Worth Avengers.
The lone Rattlers score came in the game’s final minute. After being frustrated throughout, the Rattlers offense found its way via the hands of newly subbed in quarterback Sean McClarty, who replaced Chance Demases inside the huddle. On a 4th-and-1 attempt, McClarty connected with Jon Williams for six yards, a touchdown and the end to the team’s most successful drive of the night, which had included a 30-yard pass and a quarterback sneak for 12 yards. The extra point was good to bring the game to its finale.
“I think that was the momentum,” said Elijah Davis, Rattlers head coach. “Like I said before, we had great field position from our other arena player John Whitehead, who was doing kick returns with the twins [Ekron and Elon Smith]. We would get into the 40-50 yard line n then our quarterbacks couldn’t connect with their receivers.
“I believe our offensive line only gave up one sack tonight, compared to when we played Hunt County we had four different fumbles and four or five sacks. So this unit is coming together, so we’re going to use that as a momentum push to go on and let them know that the plays work that we call. We’re going to manipulate the defense to get open, so I have confidence about what we have out there with those receivers and I believe that this is going to push us over.”
Three of the Avengers’ touchdowns came in the fourth quarter after an otherwise defensive showdown. Turnovers were prevalent and an interception by Trevoski Matlock ended the Avengers opening possession. But one Avengers player, Quentin McKinney, broke the stalemate with a second quarter bomb. McKinney scored three touchdowns in three separate ways n the first, in order of occurrence, by throwing a 50-yard trick pass, the second on a 37-yard reception and the third on a 46-yard punt return. The final Avengers score came when Gartrelle Cooper returned a Rattlers fumble a play after McKinney’s punt return.
“We started out slow with not having our jerseys so that wasn’t good,” Davis said, referring to a mishap that pushed kickoff back half-an-hour. “But overall with the game performance I’m extremely pleased with the team. We held the Defenders; they had to run a trick play to score their first touchdown, but we held them and then they came back out with a deep play where the safety just missed for that one. So besides the garbage points they got with that little punt return and a fumble return, we’re coming a long ways n so we’re much improved.”
After having seen his team play two of the league’s toughest opponents, Davis expects the Rattlers to win out in their next three games n starting Saturday when the team hosts the Denton County Patriots.
“If we don’t win that one,” he said. “Some heads are going to be rolling.”
The seven-point improvement on both sides of the ball the Rattlers showed against the Avengers may just be the beginning as the team hasn’t yet settled on a final lineup. Foremost on the list of decisions is the ultimate starting order of McClarty and Demases.
“They’re fighting for it right now, their rotation,” Davis said. “But [McClarty] is the faster kid and he throws a good deep ball, so he’s going to get his chance in the third game. I’ve got four weeks to find out what my final roster is going to be for the last six games, for that last push that we need to make.”