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144—point AFL debut

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WEST VALLEY CITY — The Arizona Rattlers and Houston ThunderBears scored a combined 144 points.

They amassed 825 yards of total offense.

They threw 14 touchdowns passes and, in a rarity, rushed for six more.

And only three offensive possessions went scoreless.

For good measure, the Rattlers' 77-67 Arena Football League victory over the ThunderBears was the 100th win in the career of head coach Danny White.

"I'm proud to have done it all with one franchise," White said. "I think in this day and age to be with the same team and get 100 wins gets a lot harder and harder."

To say the reported crowd of 5,150 got what it paid for in the AFL's first-ever game in Utah may be a huge understatement.

Arizona quarterback Sherdrick Bonner threw for 365 yards and a season-high eight touchdowns and Maurice Bryant had 10 catches for 163 yards and three scores as the Rattlers posted their highest point-total of the year in the victory — surpassing the 69-point total set in their win over Oklahoma.

"Sed (Sherdrick) played well," White said. "He's a quality quarterback. He's as good as there is in the league. He knows the game. He's experienced. He has a great arm, and he's a great leader."

With the win, the Rattlers, who are in second place in the American Western Division, put a little pressure on league-leading San Jose. They were tied at 35 after three quarters.

The win could also improve the Rattlers' positioning for post-season play. Entering the game Arizona was seeded seventh in the 12-team format, and Saturday's victory can only help.

"We've got to get better. We've got to win every game now," White said. "That puts the ball back in our court. If San Jose should stumble again, then we have a chance. We control our own destiny."

The Rattlers continued to prove they are lethal when holding a halftime lead, which they did Saturday, 36-33. They have won 6-of-7 games when in that position.

The T-Bears (3-9) never took the lead in the second half but pulled within three points at 43-40 when quarterback John Fitzgerald scored a 36-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-inches keeper.

Bonner hit Bryant for the third time of the game with a 21-yard strike. Arizona's Randy Gatewood recovered a Houston fumble and, moments later, hauled in Bonner's sixth TD pass of the game - a five-yarder - and the Rattler's led by 17 at 57-40 with just over a minute left in the third quarter.

Arizona's Bo Kelly had three TDs (two rushing and one receiving) and Chris Horn finished with five catches for 35 yards and two scores, while Houston's Terence Davis had 10 catches for 177 yards and two TDs, while teammate Sedrick Robinson had nine catches for 81 yards and three touchdowns.

Fitzgerald finished 25-for-40 for 349 yards and six TDs.


E-mail: jhinton@desnews.com