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May 1, 2010
Rick Rivers

Islanders lose hard fought battle. Rattlers late touchdown seals victory 10-6.

Pacifica's front seven crushes Northbay Rattlers RB Karl Mikolon at the line of scrimmage. Photo by Nancy Porfirio

Santa Rosa, Ca. - In what has become one of the best rivalries in minor league football the Islanders traveled to a very windy Santa Rosa, California to take on the defending 2009 NCFL & MLFN national champion, Northbay Rattlers. The Rattlers & the Islanders finished ranked #1 & #2 respectively in last season’s yearend national polls, both winning their MLFN post season bowl game bids in Las Vegas.

Similar to last season’s matchup it turned out to be a low scoring nail biter. Only this time it was the Rattlers turn at victory, winning 10-6 with a late game come from behind touchdown. Last season’s meeting ended in a 7-0 overtime victory for the Islanders at home.

After receiving the opening kick the Islanders started the game on offense deep in their own territory. Having to go directly against a very strong north to south wind, throwing the ball was extremely difficult and both teams ended their first possessions with quick punts. However when Pacifica received the ball for their second possession things looked much more promising. It appeared the offense was starting to click. The Islanders were able to sustain a 90+ yard drive, seemingly able to move the ball at will. That drive resulted in the first touchdown of the contest with QB Jimmy Collins hooking up with wide receiver Greg Walton for the score. Walton finished the night with 7 catches, 69 yards and 1 touchdown. Miscommunication on special teams resulted in a missed extra point making the score 6-0. Although Pacifica continued to move the ball with success throughout the first half, they were unable to put any more points on the board. Costly turnovers and other misfortunes continually killed positive drives.

Defensively Pacifica once again stepped up to the challenge, completely controlling the line of scrimmage throughout the entire first half. Linebacker Randy Sims & defensive end Mike Togafau led the charge leading team with 7 & 5 tackles respectively. Through the defense’s dominance up front and the offense’s clock killing drives, the Northbay Rattlers rarely seen the ball, ending their half with only 3 possessions and minimal yards.

The second half began much like the first, only this time the Rattlers started out against the high winds. Also much like the first half the Islander defense would consistently stop the Rattlers in their tracks only to have their offense cough it back up after gaining positive yardage.
This trend would end up being the deciding factor in the game. The Islanders finished the game with 6 turnovers (4 fumbles and 2 interceptions). As well as Pacifica’s defense played it only became a matter of time before the Rattlers would capitalize on these mistakes. The Rattlers first got on the board with a field goal in the 3rd quarter that was setup by a Pacifica fumble deep in their own territory. The game remained 6-3 Islanders until late in the 4th quarter when you guessed it, an Islander fumble inside their own 20 yard line that gave the ball back to their opponents. The Rattlers jumped on the opportunity and completed a touchdown pass to the back of the end zone. That score ended up being the all the points the Rattlers would need as both teams defenses shut down each other’s offenses to finish out the last 3 minutes of the game.

Team captain Sam Iosia said after the game “This team has nothing to hang their heads about tonight. They played a tough hard fought game and they know that they won the battles up front. We simply beat ourselves tonight. Not to take anything away from the defending champs, they played a great game but our own mistakes are what gave that game away”.
Although this was a tough loss for the team, the Islanders still remain in first place in the NFC with a record of 4-1. While the Rattlers lead the AFC at 5-0. Pacifica would certainly love the opportunity to redeem this loss in the league championship.
Pacifica will return home next Saturday May 8th to take on the California Rhinos. Game time is set for 6:00pm at Terra Nova High School.


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