PHOENIX -- The SaberCats were handed their first loss in a big way Saturday.

A strong defensive effort by the Arizona Rattlers led to a 73-47 rout in front of an announced crowd of 7,156 at US Airways Center.

The Rattlers (3-0) intercepted three passes by Aaron Garcia and made a fourth-down stop in the red zone in handing the SaberCats their worst loss since a 90-63 drubbing against Spokane last season.

SaberCats coach Darren Arbet was confident his team will rebound.

"There's a lot of football to be played," Arbet said. "We're going to go back and watch the tape. We have a bye week, and when we come back, we have to get after it and get better."

Arizona's defense set the tone on the first series when Marquis Floyd snagged a deflected pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown.

After catching a touchdown pass with 8:40 left in the first half, Kerry Reed -- playing defensive back -- intercepted a Garcia pass in the ensuring series and returned it 43 yards for a score.

The SaberCats (2-1) trailed by 21 points at halftime.

"I felt like our defensive line set the tone early by putting pressure on the quarterback," Arizona coach Kevin Guy said. "Anytime you have defensive plays like that, you have a chance."

Garcia passed for 296 yards and six touchdowns. Fred Williams, filling in for an injured Samora Goodson at wide receiver, led the SaberCats with 108 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

Jason Willis and Jamark Simmons also caught two touchdown passes apiece. Huey Whittaker had one scoring reception, an acrobatic 24-yard catch that he juggled and pulled in before slamming into the barrier.

Rattlers quarterback Nick Davila passed for 231 yards and six touchdowns, with no interceptions. Arizona scored touchdowns on its first eight possessions before settling for a field goal with 3:51 left in the third quarter.

"They're a good football team," Arbet said. "That's why they're No. 1, and that's why they're the champions."

APRIL 19
Spokane (3-0) at SaberCats (2-1), 7:30 p.m. No TV