Siaha Burley came up short in his quest for an Arena Football League record. But the Arizona Rattlers managed to finish the 2004 season — once headed toward miserable status — on something of a positive note.
The Rattlers overcame three lost fumbles to win on the road Sunday, beating the Las Vegas Gladiators, 49-42, behind six touchdown passes by quarterback Sherdrick Bonner.
The Rattlers, who lost seven straight at one point this season and had a 1-7 record, finished the season 7-9. Arizona now heads into an uncertain offseason as the franchise tries to find new ownership. There is a chance the team could fold.
Burley, the team’s offensive specialist, had been seeking four touchdown catches to break the single-season league record. He had only two Sunday — including one on the game’s first drive — and the two TD receptions turned out to be his only two catches of the game.
Burley finished with 45 touchdown receptions to set a Rattlers franchise record. Four players are tied with the league record of 46.
Sunday’s game turned early, when lineman Wendall Gaines returned an interception 21 yards to give Arizona a 14-0 lead. The Gladiators (8-8) never managed to get closer than seven points after that.
Bonner fumbled away a snap at the Las Vegas 3 midway through the fourth quarter and the Rattlers ahead by only seven. But the Rattlers’ defense came up with a huge stop on the following possession, forcing the Gladiators to turn the ball over on downs with 2:57 left.
Rattlers receiver Orshawante Bryant, who had three TD catches among his teambest seven receptions for 97 yards, then clinched the win by scoring with 54 seconds left.
Bonner, whose contract is expiring and who might have been playing in his final game for the Rattlers, continued his lateseason hot streak. He completed 20-of-29 passes for 217 yards and no interceptions.