Kyree Woods equals Rattler’s record with 4 INTs in IFL playoff victory

Dillion Winfrey had his leading 11th Indoor Football League interception in the first half.

But he was poised to become rookie Kyree Woods’ agent on Sunday night after the former Chandler High defenseman set a Rattlers-record with four interceptions in a 53-14 IFL first-round loss by Duke City Gladiators in front of 7,200 at the Footprint Center.

“It’s my time to stand up for it,” Winfrey said. “I’m his agent right now.

“I don’t know if we have anyone who works at Wendy’s or something. But he needs a burger or something named after him. Call it the woody burger. That’s incredible.”

Woods, who later in his San Diego State career suffered a knee injury that shattered every NFL dream, was speechless when it was his turn on the podium after the game.

“I think two[interceptions]was the most I’ve ever had,” Woods said. “It was amazing. It felt good as my teammates cheered me up.

“It felt like I was dreaming someday.”

All of Woods’ interceptions were spectacular, one topping the other. On his last two in the last quarter, he went over the wall after intercepting the pass and then dove in front of a receiver to intercept the pass.

It was the most interceptions in an IFL game since 2017.

“He bought in,” coach Kevin Guy said of Woods. “If you buy yourself in and you’re coachable, it’s up to you to execute and you’re going to have a lot of success.

“He’s had a great attitude all year. He always has that great smile from ear to ear. He’s solid. He’s a solid person, not just a great footballer.”

Guy had to pull two red challenge flags in the first half as the Gladiators (8-9) went back and forth with the Rattlers in the first quarter. He won both challenges and the Rattlers finished the half with a swing.

Duke City were inches away from tying the game at 21 with less than a minute left in the first half.

The Rattlers held and then scored 17 straight points in the final 45 seconds to take out the Gladiators.

That performance sets up the West Division championship showdown at the Footprint Center next Saturday at 6:05 p.m. against the Northern Arizona Wranglers, who defeated Tucson for their first playoff win on Saturday.

The Rattlers (14-3) and NAZ (13-4) split their two regular season games, each winning at home.

“The last time we played them they had a couple of guys out there,” said Guy. “They’re back in the lineup now. You are well trained. I’ve fought Les Moss and Rob Keefe in the Arena Football League for years and now in the IFL. Rod Windsor was a player for us and trained with us for three or four years. I am happy that he is successful. But all friendships end when we go to war here next week.”

The Gladiators looked to get the momentum going into halftime with the ball on the Rattlers’ 1. But Ramone Atkins fumbled the snap with fourth deficit.

Quarterback Drew Powell gave the Gladiators another chance at a tie before halftime after fumbling the ball away in midfield with a 2:07 lead.

July 24, 2022;  Phoenix, Arizona, United States;  Arizona Rattlers running back Shannon Brooks (3) runs past Duke City Gladiators defensive back Roderick Chapman (3) during the first half of the Indoor Football League playoffs at the Footprint Center in Phoenix July 24, 2022.  Mandatory Credit: Samantha Chow/The Republic

But two games later, Atkins’ pass went through Jared Elmore’s hands and into the hands of Dillion Winfrey for his 11th interception of the season.

Powell threw a perfect pass behind two defenders into the end zone that Braxton Haley caught by 45 seconds for a 41-yard score and a 28-14 lead.

Then Isaiah Huston, who returned the opening kick 45 yards for the Rattlers’ first result, recovered the onside kick back. Running back Shannon Brooks took a screen pass and ran 41 yards for another Rattlers TD and a 35-14 lead by 32.7 seconds.

Kyree Woods then made a notable interception in the corner of the end zone with 20 seconds remaining, resulting in Ernesto Lacayo’s second 48-yard field goal just as half time was up. Woods intercepted three more passes in the second half as the Rattlers’ defense had knocked out the Gladiators since the first quarter.

July 24, 2022;  Phoenix, Arizona, United States;  Arizona Rattlers running back Shannon Brooks (3) scores for a touchdown in the first half of the Indoor Football League playoffs against the Duke City Gladiators at the Footprint Center on July 24, 2022 in Phoenix.  Mandatory Credit: Samantha Chow/The Republic

On the brink of the late tie, the Rattlers held a remarkable 38-14 lead.

The Rattlers beat the Gladiators 24-0 in the second quarter and finished the run 39-0 after Brooks scored his third touchdown.

Powell threw for 175 yards and five TDs, completing 11 of 14 passes in the first three quarters.

Atkins was just 8 of 20 with two interceptions and two TDs and a sack in the first three quarters.

“I’m a fan,” Powell said. “Most of the game was watching the defense play. I’m proud of these guys. They train hard every week and pay attention to details. I love watching these guys.”

To suggest ideas for human interest stories and other news, reach Obert at or 602-316-8827. Follow him on Twitter @azc_obert.

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