Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
It will be a battle of fire and venom.
The Utah Blaze face their dreaded nemesis the Arizona Rattlers in the AFL National Conference title game Saturday at the US Airways Center in Phoenix. And two of the top quarterbacks in the AFL — Utah's Tommy Grady and Arizona's Nick Davila — will take center stage.
Grady, named 2012 Player of the Year based on fan votes, is also the frontrunner for the AFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year award after his stellar 2012 season.
Grady led the AFL in passing yards per game (326.1), total offense per game (329.6), total offensive plays (781), total offensive yards (5,932), total offensive touchdowns (149), total passing yards (5,870), passing touchdowns (142), pass attempts (743) and pass completions (507).
Despite Grady's considerable accomplishments, Arizona's Davila has experienced his share of success as well and will create challenges for the Blaze defense.
Davila was named the 2011 AFL MVP after guiding the Rattlers to the best regular season in franchise history and their first ArenaBowl appearance since 2004. He has a record of 42-14 while under center at Arizona.
In 2012, Davila has completed 391-of-589 pass attempts for 5,500 yards and 113 touchdowns. He's complemented by two 100-plus receptions receivers in Maurice Purify and Kerry Reed.
Saturday will mark the third time the two gunslingers have met, with both teams winning on the road. In the first matchup, Arizona utilized an offensive circus to defeat the Blaze, 86-70. Davila threw for 372 yards and 11 touchdowns and Purify hauled in 10 receptions for 196 yards and seven scores.
After the embarrassing defeat, Utah coach Ron James made an internal coaching switch that brought defensive coordinator Rob Keefe to town. Since the move the Blaze are 7-2.
The Blaze returned the favor in July, defeating the Rattlers, 62-49.
Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. MDT and can be seen live on KMYU-TV. The winner will advance to ArenaBowl XXV in New Orleans on Friday Aug. 10 against Philadelphia.
ON THE AIR
AFL National Conference Championship Game
Blaze (13-6) at Arizona (14-5)
Today, 8 p.m.
US Airways Arena
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