Report From Philadelphia Soul
ALLENTOWN–The Philadelphia Soul (14-3), (2-0) defeated the Jacksonville Sharks (8-9), (1-1) 55-50 in an absolute nail-biter to clinch their second ever American Conference Championship at the PPL Center in Allentown, PA on Sunday night. With this victory, the Soul move on to the ArenaBowl XXIX.
“I could not be prouder of this group of guys,” said Soul head coach Clint Dolezel. “We worked hard for five months to get to this point, but we aren’t finished yet. We had some sloppy plays that we need to clean up if we want to reach the championship title.”
Philadelphia QB Dan Raudabaugh finished the game completing 26-of-38 passes for 317 yards and 6 touchdowns. QB Tommy Grady of Jacksonville completed 21-of-31 passes for 245 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Jacksonville won the coin toss to start the game, and deferred to the second half. On the first play of the game, Raudabaugh’s pass was intercepted by David Hyland and returned 25 yards for a touchdown. Lindsey Wolfe’s kick was good and with 13:27 left in the first quarter, the Soul trailed the Sharks 7-0. The Soul answered back on their ensuing possession, capping the drive off with a 3-yard touchdown run by FB Jeramie Richardson. Tommy Frevert’s kick was good, and with 7:39 remaining in the first quarter the game was tied 7-7. The Soul gained possession again seconds later when Frevert’s kick ricocheted off the uprights, bounced off the turf and into Frevert’s arms. Two plays later, Raudabaugh connected with WR Shaun Kauleinamoku for a 7-yard touchdown. Frevert’s kick was good and the Soul led the Sharks 14-7 with 5:59 left in the first quarter. After DB LaRico Hollis intercepted QB Tommy Grady’s pass to give the Soul possession, Raudabaugh threw his second interception of the game, this time to LB Alvin Ray Jackson.
The Sharks started the second quarter on the 25-yard line, and concluded their drive with a 6-yard pass from Grady to WR Joe Hills. Wolfe’s kick was no good and with 12:58 remaining in the second quarter, the Soul led Jacksonville 14-13. On the Soul’s next possession, Richardson received the handoff and rumbled his way to an 18-yard touchdown, his second of the game. Frevert’s kick was good, and the Soul led the Sharks 21-13 with 8:12 left in the second quarter. The Sharks bit into the Soul lead on their following possession when Grady connected with Reggie Gray for an 11-yard touchdown. Wolfe’s kick was good, and Philadelphia led the Sharks 21-20 with 8:12 left in the second quarter. WR Darius “Money” Reynolds caught Raudabaugh’s pass, but DE Neefy Moffett was able to strip Reynolds of the ball. Michaeux Robinson recovered the fumble, and Hills found the endzone for the second time on a 20-yard pass from Grady to give Jacksonville the lead. Wolfe’s kick was good and the Sharks led the Soul 27-21 with 3:21 remaining in the first half. SK continued his stellar performance in the first half with a 16-yard touchdown reception from Raudabaugh. Frevert’s kick was good and the Soul took back the lead 28-27 with 1:00 left in the half. The Soul special teams came up huge in the last minute of the half on an onside kick by Frevert, recovered by a leaping Lonnie Outlaw. TE Adam Smith cashed in on a 1-yard pass from Raudabaugh as time expired in the first half. Frevert’s kick was good, giving the Soul a 35-27 lead heading into the locker room.
The Soul kicked off to begin the second half of the game. Joe Hills immediately fumbled the ball, and Soul DB James Romain recovered. The Soul were able to capitalize on the fumble recovery with a 39-yard pass to Darius Reynold for his first touchdown of the night. The kick was good, and with 12:25 left in the half, the Soul added to their lead, 42-27. The Sharks began their first drive of the third quarter on the five yard line. Grady fumbled the ball on the 20-yard line, and the Soul took advantage of the opportunity with the recovery. Frevert’s field goal attempt was no good, and recovered by Jacksonville. Grady found Hills in the end zone for another 5-yard Sharks touchdown pass. The kick was good, and Soul continued to lead with 2:34 left in the third quarter. On the Soul’s next possession, MLB Dexter Jackson sacked Raudabaugh in the end zone to get a Sharks safety.
On their first drive of the fourth quarter, Grady connected with Gray for a Sharks touchdown. The kick was good, and with 11:45 left in the game, the Sharks took back the lead 43-42. On their next possession, Raudabaugh found Duvalt for a Soul touchdown. The kick was good, and the Soul fought back their lead, 49-43 with 7:40 left in the game. The Soul were successful with their on-side kick attempt, and started their next drive on their own 15-yard line. The Soul were unable to capitalize on their chance to score, and turned the ball over on downs. Jacksonville was able to score on the next possession, with a short pass from Grady to Hills to tie up the game. The kick was good, and the Sharks took the lead 50-49 with 55 seconds left in the game. The Soul flew down the field on their next possession and Raudabaugh found Reynolds in the end zone to take back the lead, 55-50, winning the game over the Jacksonville Sharks.
The Soul will head to Glendale, AZ to take on the Arizona Rattlers (14-3), (2-0) on Friday August 26, at 7pm EST, for a chance to hoist the ArenaBowl Championship trophy for the second time in franchise history.
Under Armour Offensive Player: Philadelphia QB Dan Raudabaugh
Riddell Defensive Player: Philadelphia DL Jake Metz
J Lewis Small AFL Playmaker: Philadephia WR Shaun Kauleinamoku
Cutter’s Catch of the Game: Philadelphia WR Darius Reynolds’ 39-yard touchdown in the third quarter
AFL Highlight of the Game: Philadelphia WR Darius Reynolds’ game winning 6-yard touchdown.