Game preview: Salt Lake Screaming Eagles host Arizona Rattlers

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You can catch every Salt Lake Screaming Eagles game live on SI.com. The fan-run Screaming Eagles make all their decisions, including playcalling, based on fan voting. 

The Arizona Rattlers (3-3) travel to Salt Lake City, Utah, to take on the Screaming Eagles at the Maverik Center this Friday. Arizona is looking to capitalize on the momentum gained in their last victory against the Intense Conference leading Nebraska Danger (4-3). This marks the first time that either of these teams have faced each other.

The Rattlers enter the matchup just a game back from the top spot in the conference, while the Screaming Eagles will look to make up some ground in the playoff hunt. A win for the Rattlers keeps them within a game of first place, with the showdown against the conference leader next week looming large.

The Rattlers offense is starting to come together. Quarterback Cody Sokol earned the IFL Offensive Player of the Week in his second start ​after completing 17 of 30 passes for 165 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for 33 yards. Running backs Darrell Monroe and Ketrich Harmon combined for 52 yards on the ground. The two of them are now ranked first and fourth in the league in yards per game.

On special teams, kicker Sawyer Petre made three out of four field goals, including the game winner. Petre’s three field goals tied for the most made in a game in team history.

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Defensively, the Rattlers held Nebraska to only 149 total yards of offense. Only 85 of those yards were surrendered through the air, boosting the Rattlers pass defense back to number one in the rankings after it sunk to third following their loss to the Wichita Falls Nighthawks (6-1). Arizona still has league's leader in tackles per game, defensive back Adam Sauder. Sauder is averaging 7.5 tackles per game. On the defensive line, Chris McAllister has 6.5 tackles for loss, third most in the league.   

Salt Lake's last game was against the Wichita Falls Nighthawks (6-1).  Quarterback Verlon Reed threw for 205 yards and completed 17 of 27 passes against Wichita Falls, and running back James Poole rushed nine times for 21 yards. Despite the loss, the Screaming Eagles defense held the Nighthawks to 214 total yards.

Defensively, Salt Lake is only ranked two spots behind the Rattlers in pass defense. They rank third, allowing 127.2 yards per game. The Screaming Eagles secondary has been able to get its hands on the ball quite often through six games. The secondary has recorded seven total interceptions which is tied for fourth most in the league. Defensive back Don Unamba is tied for first in the league with four interceptions so far on the season.

The Rattlers will face the Screaming Eagles in West Valley City at 9 p.m. ET. The game will be streamed live on SI.com. 

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