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Arena football: Utah Blaze hope to extend streak against division-leading Rattlers

Published July 5, 2012 5:04 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Utah Blaze have already set franchise highs this season, but they have three games left to shoot even higher.

Nearly two weeks ago, the franchise parlayed its 100th game ever into its 10th win this year — the best mark in the team's six seasons of existence. This week, the Blaze will try to close the two-game gap separating them and the division-leading Arizona Rattlers.

Both teams enter Friday's 8 p.m. game at U.S. Airways Center hoping to extend winning streaks. The Rattlers (12-3) have won their past seven — including an 86-70 win over the Blaze in May — while Utah (10-5) has won its past four.

The gaudy statistics of Tommy Grady have been crucial to the Blaze's recent success. The 6-foot-7 quarterback set a new AFL record with his 118th touchdown pass two weeks ago, zipping a 14-yard dart to receiver Jeremy Kelley. Grady easily paces the league in offensive plays at 666, one of only two players to top 600.

Utah boasts the league's top total offense, but Arizona counters with the second-best scoring defense — a stingy unit that allows only 48.9 points per game. While the Rattlers aren't exactly shy about giving up yardage (306.5 through the air, 16th in the AFL), they rank third with 41 takeaways this season.

The host team, one of two to have clinched a playoff spot, also balances rushing and passing attacks that both rank in the top five in the AFL. The Blaze's passing numbers are also a product of necessity; their anemic rushing offense ranks 16th with 10.5 yards per game.

If Utah hopes to extend its streak to five wins, it will have to avoid miscues. In its Week 11 loss to the Rattlers, Utah turned the ball over five times. —

Blaze at Rattlers

P At U.S. Airways Center (Phoenix)

Kickoff • Friday, 8 p.m. MT

Records • Utah 10-5; Arizona 12-3

TV • KMYU