Every time Nick Davila found Maurice Purify for yet another touchdown pass Friday night, the second floor of the downtown Phoenix Tilted Kilt turned into the Snake Pit.
Fans stood and screamed, giving each other high-fives.
They were chanting, “Let’s go, Rattlers,” throughout.
Pat Shannahan/The Republic
But, after witnessing so many ArenaBowls as a lifelong Rattlers season-ticket holder, Peoria’s Tao Baker couldn’t relax.
“It’s too nerve-racking,” Baker said even after the Rattlers went up on the Philadelphia Soul 66-42 with 8:43 left. “I’m in my heart-attack years, so I’ve got to watch out. It’s not over until the final whistle.”
Finally, after 15 years, after seeing the Rattlers lose four ArenaBowls since 2002, and especially after last year’s air-sucking loss at home on the final play of the game, Baker could breathe easy with the Rattlers beating the Philadelphia Soul 72-54 in ArenaBowl XXV in New Orleans.
“Last year, the last two seconds took the air out of my lungs,” Baker said.
Davila and Purify and a ball-hawking defense in the first half made sure there was finally a happy ending to a Rattlers season.
It was the Rattlers’ first championship since 1997 and three altogether. They also won it in 1994.
Purify set an ArenaBowl record with seven touchdown catches, a week after catching five touchdown passes in the second half to beat the Utah Blaze 75-69.
Just as Purify put the finishing touches on the Soul with his seventh touchdown catch with 2:48 left, fans watched a fireworks display out the window. They were coming from the post-Diamondbacks game a couple of blocks away.
“It was fitting,” longtime season-ticket holder Keith Kozakiewicz said of the fireworks. “That was appropriate.
“The drought is over.”