In a game that featured just 12 combined points over the first quarter of action, the Philadelphia Soul (2-0) offense eventually "clicked" in a big way, as the team went on to score four more touchdowns and a successful field goal attempt to top the Baltimore Brigade (1-1) Friday evening at Royal Farms Arena, 36-27. The Soul start out 2-0 for the third straight season.
Soul WR Aaron Wascha led the way with three receiving touchdowns (92 yards); Wascha missed Week 1 out of precaution, according to Soul head coach Clint Dolezel, to protect his hamstring. WR Darius Prince followed closely behind with two touchdown receptions (98 yards). After throwing just two touchdowns and 151 yards in Week 1, Soul QB Dan Raudabaugh responded by throwing five touchdowns on 233 yards in the Week 2 win; he also tossed an interception, making his TD-INT ratio 7-to-1 through the first two games of his 10th AFL campaign.
With the win, the Soul snapped a three-game skid at Royal Farms Arena, while Dolezel earned his 90th career AFL victory to become the ninth-ever league coach to reach the milestone. Dolezel now needs just four more wins to pass current Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden for the seventh most in AFL history. Dolezel is now 90-40 all-time (including playoffs), and 79-32 as Soul coach.
“It’s difficult to go on the road on a short week," Dolezel said prior to Friday's matchup, "but we know what to expect and how to prepare. We’re certainly motivated after last season.”
The Soul's motivation that Dolezel referenced stems from their two postseason defeats to the Brigade in the opening round. The Soul entered just 6-5 against the Brigade all-time, and 1-4 all-time at Royal Farms Arena.
Defense played a key part in the Soul's victory, just how DB James Romain's two pick-sixes in the season opener played a huge role in the 48-41 opener win over Atlantic City last Saturday.
The Soul defense forced the Brigade to turn the ball over on downs three times; it also, on special teams, blocked two PAT attempts. Thanks to the strong defense, the Soul offense scored as many as 16 unanswered points in the second half, helping the team recover from being down 12-14 at the end the first half.
Soul rookie DB Lenroy Neysmith picked up his first career interception to secure the Soul win late in the fourth. It was the Soul's third interception of the season, adding onto Romain's two pick-sixes.
- 1st downs: PHI 6, BAL 7
- Rushes-yards (net): PHI 2-12, BAL 2-1
- Passing yards (net): PHI 117, BAL 98
- Passing attempts-completions-interceptions: PHI 19-11-0, BAL 16-9-0
- Total offensive plays-yards: PHI 21-129, BAL 18-99
- Kickoff returns-yards: PHI 2-32, BAL 1-26
- Interception returns-yards: PHI 0-0, BAL 0-0
- Fumbles-lost: PHI 1-1, BAL 0-0
- Penalties-yards: PHI 5-21, BAL 0-0
- Possession time: PHI 16:43, BAL 13:17
- Third-down conversions: PHI 2/5, AC 3/4
- Fourth-down conversions: PHI 2/2, BAL 0/1
- Red-zone scores-chances: PHI 1/1, BAL 1/2
- 1st downs: PHI 12, BAL 11
- Rushes-yards (net): PHI 3-10, BAL 3-(minus 3)
- Passing yards (net): PHI 233, BAL 238
- Passing attempts-completions-interceptions: PHI 32-19-1, BAL 33-18-1
- Total offensive plays-yards: PHI 35-243, BAL 37-235
- Kickoff returns-yards: PHI 4-63, BAL 1-26
- Interception returns-yards: PHI 1-11, BAL 1-5
- Fumbles-lost: PHI 2-1, BAL 0-0
- Penalties-yards: PHI 6-26, BAL 4-19
- Possession time: PHI 32:31, BAL 27:29
- Third-down conversions: PHI 3/8, AC 3/7
- Fourth-down conversions: PHI 2/2, BAL 1/4
- Red-zone scores-chances: PHI 3/4, BAL 1/3
- BAL, 0-6: QB Shane Boyd to WR Joe Hills (7 yards), 10:25 left in quarter; K Brandon Brown extra-point blocked.
- PHI, 6-6: QB Dan Raudabaugh to WR Darius Prince (8 yards), 3:02 left in quarter; K Kenny Spencer extra-point blocked.
- PHI, 12-6: QB Dan Raudabaugh to WR Aaron Wascha (12 yards), 5:19 left in half; K Kenny Spencer extra-point no good.
- BAL, 12-14: QB Shane Boyd to WR Brandon Thompkins (19 yards), 0:17 left in half; FB Rory Nixon 2-point rush attempt conversion good.
- PHI, 20-14: QB Dan Raudabaugh to WR Darius Prince (39 yards), 14:13 left in quarter;
- WR BJ Bunn 2-point rush attempt conversion good.
- BAL, 20-21: QB Shane Boyd to WR Milton Williams (43 yards), 11:51 left in quarter; K Brandon Brown extra-point good.
- PHI, 27-21: QB Dan Raudabaugh to WR Aaron Wascha (35 yards), 9:34 left in quarter; K Kenny Spencer extra-point good.
- PHI, 30-21: K Kenny Spencer field goal attempt from 20 good; 1:17 left in quarter.
- PHI, 36-21: QB Dan Raudabaugh to WR Aaron Wascha (5 yards), 12:30 left in game; 2-point conversion pass attempt no good.
- BAL, 36-27: QB Shane Boyd to WR Milton Williams (40 yards), 9:44 left in game; K Brandon Brown extra-point blocked.
- On the first drive of the game, Soul DB James Romain nearly recorded his third pick-six of the season (dropped). Romain had just four interceptions in all of 2018. Likewise, Brigade DB Joe Powell nearly picked off his third pass, opposite Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh on Philadelphia's second possession in the second quarter.
- Brigade WR Joe Hills' touchdown reception, the game's first score, extended his league record of consecutive games with a caught touchdown pass to 94. During such record, Hills has caught 41 touchdowns against the Soul in 16 games, the most of any team he has faced, notes ArenaFan.com.
- With the game notched at 6, the Soul defense forced a turnover on downs, with just under 12 minutes to go in the first half. The Soul forced two more turnover on downs in Brigade back-to-back drives in the third and fourth quarters.
- After WR Aaron Wascha's touchdown to put the Soul up 12-6 with less than five minutes to go in the first half, the Soul successfully converted their first onside kick of the 2019 season. Soul FB Adrian Ferns fumbled on a 14-yard rush and lost possession, just three plays later. The Brigade made the most of the opportunity, as with 12 seconds to go in the half WR Brandon Thompkins caught a 19-yard touchdown from QB Shane Boyd.
- Both kickers went a combined 0-for-3 in PAT in the first half. The Brigade successfully converted a 2-point conversion, opting not to go for the PAT, on their final drive of the second quarter. Baltimore originally missed the PAT, but a flag was called on the Soul.
- All five penalties in the first half were called against the Soul. (The Brigade were flagged for illegal touching in the first quarter, but the penalty was declined after Raudabaugh completed a 23-yard pass to Wascha).
- Soul WR Darius Prince caught his second touchdown reception, early in the third quarter. Prince had only one touchdown in all of last Saturday's season opener against the Blackjacks.
- The Soul and Brigade exchanged 39-yard (PHI), 43-yard (BAL) and 35-yard (PHI) touchdowns on the first three possessions of the second half — just four combined plays.
- A Boyd 49-yard touchdown pass to WR Milton Williams was overturned (Soul challenge), as Williams was ruled down (just 4-yard reception instead). The Soul countered their next drive with a touchdown, securing the 36-21 advantage.
Soul Injury Report:
- On the Soul's first offensive possession, veteran WR Lonnie Outlaw was banged up after flipping over the end zone wall (dropped pass) and onto concrete outside the playing field. He missed just one play.
- Saturday, May 11, 2019: vs. Albany Empire (1-0), 7 p.m.
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