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Soul Overcome Empire, Clinch 8th Straight Postseason Berth

Prince
Philadelphia Soul WR Darius Prince snagging a first-half touchdown, helping the team clinch its eighth straight postseason berth with a win Saturday afternoon opposite the Arena Football League-best Albany Empire at the Wells Fargo Center (Mike Kruce/SportsTalkPhilly.com).

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

FINAL | Soul 54, Empire 43 | Attendance: 10,564 | Boxscore | Photo Gallery

For the eighth straight season, the Philadelphia Soul (6-4) are headed to the Arena Football League playoffs. On Saturday, the team, led by veteran head coach Clint Dolezel, topped the league-best Albany Empire (8-2), 54-43. In handing the Empire just their second loss this season, the Soul kept their chances of clinching the top seed alive, with two games and three weeks remaining in the regular season. After trailing 21-20 at the half, the Soul defense held the Empire scoreless in the third quarter, as the Soul would tally two scores to claim a lead they would not relinquish.

Wide receiver Darius Prince led the way for the Soul with 91 receiving yards and three touchdowns spanning seven catches. Rookie BJ Bunn also caught seven from quarterback Dan Raudabaugh, who completed 21 of his 32 passes totaling 231 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception.

Defensive lineman Sean Daniels became the first to sack Empire QB Tommy Grady this season, while DB James Romain recorded his league-leading seventh interception. DB Torez Jones also picked off Grady, who had just eight interceptions in the Empire's nine games entering the contest. Grady struggled after being sacked; he had completed 11 of 15 passes for three scores in the first half, but the 2018 AFL MVP went just 8-18 in the second. Despite top league wide receiver Malachi Jones catching 11 passes for 171 yards and three touchdowns, the Soul defense still prevailed, forcing the Empire offense to turn the ball over three times — the other being a turnover on downs.

With the win, Dolezel passed current Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden for the seventh-most wins in Arena Football League history (94).


Game Summary

Albany won the toss and deferred. The Soul ate more than five minutes off the clock, but the last play of their seven-play, 24-yard drive ended in QB Dan Raudabaugh being picked off by Empire LB Terence Moore on 4th and 3 on the opposing 23-yard line.

The Empire needed just one play on their first offensive possession to grab a 7-0 lead, with QB Tommy Grady completing a 27-yard touchdown pass to WR Malachi Jones.

The Soul's following offense drive took one less play (6), but twice as many yards (48). Fourth and goal on the opposing two yard line, Raudabaugh drilled a two-yard touchdown pass to WR Darius Prince. With kicker Kenny Spencer's kick good, the game became notched at 7.

Grady completed all four of his passing attempts on the next Empire possession. The first two were both to Jones, totaling 33 yards, and the last was to WR Quentin Sims, a four-yard touchdown pass. Sims' touchdown extended his league lead to 24.

Starting with the ball to start the second quarter, the Soul's Raudabaugh completed nine-yard and 26-yard passes to WR Jordan Williams, before finding Prince in the end zone for the second time of the contest (10-yard touchdown pass).

The Empire scored their third touchdown in as many possessions with an eight-play, 45-yard drive that took nearly 8 minutes off the clock. Grady found his third different teammate in the end zone, this time WR Collin Taylor on an 13-yard touchdown pass.

Albany failed on an an onside kick attempt, giving the Soul the ball on the Empire 10-yard line. Raudabaugh completed a seven-yard pass to WR BJ Bunn, before two plays later finding him again in the end zone on a three-yard pass. Spencer's extra point was no good, marking the game's score at 21-20 in favor of Albany with 1:10 to go in the half. The Soul held the powerful Empire offense from scoring, keeping their deficit at one entering halftime.

Just as the Empire forced an interception of the opposing quarterback to start the game, the Soul returned the favor to start the second half. After being sacked for the first time this season, Grady threw an interception to Soul DB Torez Jones.

Raudabaugh went to work and made the Empire pay; he completed a 19-yard pass to Williams before finding Prince in the end zone for the third time to give the Soul their first lead of the game. Then, the Empire uncharacteristically went four-and-out, with Grady failing to complete a pass on three straight attempts before turning the ball over on the Soul 15.

Fullback Adrian Ferns rushed 12 yards. Later, Raudabaugh found Bunn for 12 yards, then Prince for 17, before Ferns found the end zone via a two-yard rush. With the extra point good, the Soul carried a 13-point lead into the final quarter.

A Grady 30-yard pass to Jones, on the third play of the final quarter, shrunk the Soul lead to 34-28. The Empire attempted another onside kick and failed, giving the Soul the ball on the Empire 6-yard line. Raudabaugh would find WR Lonnie Outlaw in the end zone for the first time of the game.

Two plays into the Empire's subsequent drive, Soul DB James Romain intercepted Grady, the quarterback's second pick of the game and 10th of season. Raudabaugh then completed his sixth touchdown pass, a 17-yarder to Bunn. With the two-point attempt no good, the Soul lead remained at 47-28.

Grady found Jones in the end zone for the third time, trimming the Soul lead back to 12. The league receiving leader in Jones was shaken up on the play, but eventually got up on his own. The Empire failed at another onside kick attempt, and Raudabaugh would connect with Outlaw for the second time in the end zone, giving the team a commanding 54-35 lead with 30 seconds to go. Prior to time expiring, the Empire added another late touchdown and completed a two-point attempt behind backup quarterback Mason Espinosa.

In the second and third quarters, the Soul combined to score 27 points while allowing only 7. The Soul were outscored in the opening quarter, 14-7, and only 22-20 in the final quarter.



Stats

 

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

FINAL

Empire

14

7

0

22

43

Soul

7

13

14

20

54

  • First Downs: ALB 18, PHI 17
    • Rushing: ALB 2, PHI 2
    • Passing: ALB 15, PHI 13
  • Net Yards Rushing: ALB 17, PHI 12
    • Rush Attempts: ALB 3, PHI 3
    • Average Per Rush: ALB 5.7, PHI 4.0
    • Rushing Touchdowns: ALB 0, PHI 1
  • Net Yards Passing: ALB 288, PHI 223
    • Comp-Att-Int: ALB 22-37-2, PHI 21-32-1
    • Average per attempt: ALB 7.8, PHI 7.0
    • Average per completion: ALB 13.1, PHI 10.6
  • Total Offensive Yards: ALB 305, PHI 235
    • Total Offensive Plays: ALB 41, PHI 36
    • Average Gain Per Play: ALB 7.4, PHI 6.5
  • Fumbles (No-Lost): ALB 0-0, PHI 0-0
  • Penalties (No-Yards): ALB 5-34, PHI 3-15
  • Kickoffs-Yards: ALB 3-171, PHI 8-449
    • Average Yards Per Kickoff: ALB 57.0, PHI 56.1
    • Touchbacks: ALB 1, PHI 3
  • Time of Possession: ALB 31:23, PHI 28:37
  • Third Down Conversions: ALB 2-5, PHI 3-6
  • Fourth Down Conversions: ALB 1-3, PHI 2-3
  • Red-Zone Scores-Chances: ALB 3-5, PHI 8-9
  • PAT Kicks: ALB 5-5, PHI 6-7

Scoring Summary:

1st quarter

  • ALB, 7-0 (9:15): QB Tommy Grady 27-yard pass to WR Malachi Jones; K Adrian Trevino kick good.
  • PHI, 7-7 (4:07): QB Dan Raudabaugh 2-yard pass to WR Darius Prince; K Kenny Spencer kick good.
  • ALB, 14-7 (0:19): QB Tommy Grady 4-yard pass to WR Quentin Sims; K Adrian Trevino kick good.

2nd quarter

  • PHI, 14-14 (12:50): QB Dan Raudabaugh 10-yard pass to WR Darius Prince; K Kenny Spencer kick good.
  • ALB, 21-14 (4:02): QB Tommy Grady 13-yard pass to WR Collin Taylor; K Adrian Trevino kick good.
  • PHI, 20-21 (1:17): QB Dan Raudabaugh 3-yard pass to WR BJ Bunn; K Kenny Spencer kick no good.

3rd quarter

  • PHI, 27-21 (9:07): QB Dan Raudabaugh 15-yard pass to WR Darius Prince; K Kenny Spencer kick good.
  • PHI, 34-21 (2:16): FB Adrian Ferns 2-yard rush; K Kenny Spencer kick good.

4th quarter

  • ALB, 28-34 (13:42): QB Tommy Grady 30-yard pass to WR Malachi Jones; K Adrian Trevino kick good.
  • PHI, 41-28 (10:45): QB Dan Raudabaugh 3-yard pass to WR Lonnie Outlaw; K Kenny Spencer kick good.
  • PHI, 47-28 (6:55): QB Dan Raudabaugh 17-yard pass to WR BJ Bunn; Two-point attempt no good.
  • ALB, 35-47 (13:42): QB Tommy Grady 20-yard pass to WR Malachi Jones; K Adrian Trevino kick good.
  • PHI, 54-35 (0:45): QB Dan Raudabaugh 4-yard pass to WR Lonnie Outlaw; K Kenny Spencer kick good.
  • ALB, 43-54 (0:10): QB Mason Espinosa 13-yard pass to WR AJ Coney; Two-point attempt good.

What's Next:

  • Saturday, July 6, 2019: at Atlantic City Blackjacks (3-6), 7 p.m.
    • Watch: NBCSP, ESPN3, ESPN app; Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic

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