Report From Philadelphia Soul
PHILADELPHIA – The Detroit Drive. The Arizona Rattlers. And now, the Philadelphia Soul. Philadelphia has etched its name in Arena Football League history by becoming the third team to win the ArenaBowl in back-to-back years after knocking off the Tampa Bay Storm 44-40 with 13,648 fans in attendance at the Wells Fargo Center to win ArenaBowl XXX. After winning the coin toss and deferring their decision until the second half, the Soul defense came up with a huge stop to open up ArenaBowl XXX. James Romain’s third career ArenaBowl interception gave Philadelphia the advantage, but the Storm were quick to take the ball right back. Playmaker of the Year, Kendrick Ings drew first blood by returning a missed field goal 57-yards for a touchdown in the longest play in ArenaBowl history to give Tampa Bay a 6-0 advantage. The second missed field goal return for a touchdown in ArenaBowl history was the only score of the opening quarter.
The Soul cracked the scoreboard for the first time in ArenaBowl XXX 4:07 into the second quarter when Dan Raudabaugh connected with rookie Darius Prince to make the score 7-6 in favor of the hosts.
Storm wide receiver Joe Hills made his first major contribution of the ArenaBowl on the ensuing drive, scoring on a 35-yard touchdown to give the Storm a 13-7 lead. On the ensuing Philadelphia drive, Raudabaugh was intercepted by All-Arena First-Team JLB Alvin Ray Jackson, who returned it 26-yards for a touchdown. It was the ninth time a defensive player intercepted a pass and returned it for a score in ArenaBowl history.
Despite trailing 20-7 late in the second quarter, the Soul wouldn’t be denied. The biggest comeback in ArenaBowl history began on a drive that ate 4:50 off the clock and ended with Mykel Benson’s first of two rushing touchdowns of ArenaBowl XXX.
The Storm took a 20-14 lead into the halftime break, but the lead was short-lived. Darius Reynolds hauled in a 40-yard touchdown the give the Soul their first lead of ArenaBowl XXX, 21-20. Ings’ second touchdown of the game capped off a short Tampa Bay drive to give the visitors the advantage once again at 27-21, but Benson’s second rushing touchdown of the night, his ArenaBowl-record fourth in his career, gave the Soul the perfect response.
Philadelphia would never surrender the lead.
The stout Soul defense, one that allowed just seven first downs and 194 total yards of offense, the fourth-fewest in ArenaBowl history, came up with their fourth stop of the game at the outset of the fourth quarter.
Prince scored his second touchdown of the night with 9:24 left in ArenaBowl XXX to give the Soul their biggest lead of the night at 35-27.
But it was the next drive that turned the tide of the ArenaBowl once and for all. Sean Daniels logged the seventh safety in ArenaBowl history by sacking Randy Hippeard in the end zone to stretch out the lead to 37-27.
The Storm had some fight left in them by recovering the ensuing onside kick and scoring on a two-play drive, capped off by Justin Hilton’s 42-yard touchdown. The Soul recovered Mark Lewis’ second onside kick attempt of the night and paid it off with a Shaun Kauleinamoku touchdown.
Dwayne Hollis effectively sealed the Foster Trophy for Philadelphia by intercepting Hippeard with 2:40 left in the game. Tampa Bay’s season was capped with Ings’ third touchdown of the night with no time remaining.
With the win, the Soul become the first team to win the ArenaBowl at home since the Spokane Shock did so in ArenaBowl XXIII. Clint Dolezel became the sixth coach in AFL history to win a second ArenaBowl.
In just his second game in the Arena Football League, Prince became the first rookie since Rick Hamilton in ArenaBowl XII to capture MVP with his two touchdown passes to go with three tackles on special teams. Benson’s two rushing touchdowns earned him Offensive Player of the Game honors, while Romain picked up the Defensive Player of the Game award.