Soul Look for Postseason Berth, 3rd Straight Win Opposite League-Best Empire

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By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Playing in their regular season home finale, the Philadelphia Soul (5-4) will look for revenge — as well as improve their respective playoff picture — opposite the AFL-best Albany Empire (8-1) Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.

To clinch their eighth straight postseason berth, the Soul either need to win just one of their last three games, or the Atlantic City Blackjacks need to lose at least one of their last three games.

After losing three straight games (May 11-26), the Soul have now won three of their last four games, outscoring opponents a combined 143-99 among the victories. The Soul last faced the Empire at home on May 11 (Week 3), and fell 57-48 to start their three-game skid stretch.

The Soul face a tough task on the defensive front opposite reigning league MVP QB Tommy Grady and his top target, WR Malachi Jones. Grady has completed 70 percent of his passes this season, while logging the most passing yards (2,390) and touchdowns (54). Jones has reigned in more than 300 receiving yards than any other receiver this season (1,074), having recorded seven 100-yard receiving games.

The Soul are giving free tickets for the home finale to children 14 and under, with the purchase of an adult ticket. Visit www.philadelphiasoul.com/kidsfree for more information; enter discount code KIDS at checkout.

Continue reading "Soul Look for Postseason Berth, 3rd Straight Win Opposite League-Best Empire" »


Soul Set to Battle in 'Must-Win' Week 8 Matchup Against Blackjacks

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By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Amid a five-game stretch in which they have fallen four times, the Philadelphia Soul (3-4) will take on the Atlantic City Blackjacks (3-4) in the last of their season-long three-game home stand Sunday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Soul currently hold the tiebreaker with the Blackjacks for the fourth and final playoff spot; they look to avoid their second losing streak of the season — and their first multiple losing streaks within a single regular season since 2014.

Last week, the Soul fell 48-41 at home to the reigning AFL-champion Washington Valor, while the Blackjacks fell to the then-winless Columbus Destroyers on the road, 54-50. Soul QB Dan Raudabaugh completed just 50 percent of his passes, despite throwing for 296 yards and five touchdowns. He will have a chance to rebound on Sunday against Atlantic City, who has allowed 43.9 points per game, tied with Columbus for the most in the league.  

After Sunday's matchup, just one of the Soul's remaining four games will be at home — Saturday, June 29 against the league-best Albany Empire.

Continue reading "Soul Set to Battle in 'Must-Win' Week 8 Matchup Against Blackjacks" »


Soul Come Up Short, Fall Below .500 After Loss to Valor

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Philadelphia Soul DB James Romain is one of just two players in the Arena Football League this season with four interceptions, with the latest coming in his team's 48-41 loss to the Washington Valor on Sunday, June 9, 2019, at the Wells Fargo Center. Romain is the only player in the AFL with multiple pick-sixes (3) (Matt Rappa/SportsTalkPhilly.com).

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

FINAL | Soul 41, Valor 48 | Attendance: 7,164 | Boxscore

The Philadelphia Soul (3-4) — hosting the second game of their season-long three-game home stand Sunday evening at the Wells Fargo Center — failed to revenged their 53-46 Week 4 road loss to the Washington Valor (4-3), as they fell for the second time this season to the the reigning champions, 48-41. The Soul have now lost four of their last five games; if the season ended after Week 7, the Soul would have the fourth and final playoff spot.

  • Offensive Player of Game: Douglas McNeil III - Washington, 4 catches, 27 yards, 3 touchdowns
  • Defensive Player of Game: James Romain - Philadelphia, 9 solo tackles, 1 interception
  • Most Valuable Player of Game: Arvell Nelson - Washington, 18-28, 239 yards, 6 passing touchdowns, 14 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown

With the loss, the Soul's all-time record against the Valor now stands at 6-3. Soul QB Dan Raudabaugh completed just half of his 42 passing attempts, totaling 296 yards and five touchdown passes. Raudabaugh has now thrown at least five touchdowns touchdowns (36 total) in each of his six career games opposite the Valor.

Continue reading "Soul Come Up Short, Fall Below .500 After Loss to Valor" »


Soul Set to Begin 2nd Half of Season Against Reigning Champion Valor

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By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Coming off of their 47-35 Week 6 win over the then-winless Columbus Destroyers — snapping their three-game skid — the Philadelphia Soul (3-3) will look open for continued success as they open the second half of the season opposite the reigning Arena Football League Washington Valor (3-3) Sunday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center. The game will be the Soul's second of their season-long three-game home stand.

Last Saturday's Soul win allowed the team to avoid its first four-game skid since 2011, and just its sixth four-game skid in Soul history; also, Clint Dolezel earned his 80th career win as Soul head coach (80-35) and 91st overall — moving into eighth place on the AFL’s all-time coaching wins list, just two behind Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden (93).

The Soul defense forced three turnovers, including James Romain’s third pick-six and third interception overall this season. With Soul WR Aaron Wascha sidelined with an injury, rookie WR BJ Bunn stepped up, catching his first two career touchdowns as part of five total catches and 94 receiving yards. Soul DB Torez Jones was named Defensive Player of the Week, recording 8 1/2 tackles, a forced fumble, and a one-handed interception

The Soul are 6-2 against the Valor all-time, despite falling against them, 53-46, in their last meeting — Week 4 at Capital One Arena. The Soul overcame a 15-point deficit to take their first lead of the game with 23 seconds remaining, but on Washington's next possession, the Soul surrendered a 46-yard touchdown, sealing their second defeat of the season.

Continue reading "Soul Set to Begin 2nd Half of Season Against Reigning Champion Valor" »


Soul End Skid, Edge Destroyers for 3rd Win

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Philadelphia Soul rookie WR BJ Bunn recorded his first career AFL touchdowns in the team's Week 6 victory over the Columbus Destroyers at the Wells Fargo Center (Matt Rappa/SportsTalkPhilly.com).

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

FINAL | Soul 47, Destroyers 35 | Attendance: 8,672 | Boxscore

The Philadelphia Soul (3-3) snapped their three-game skid and returned to the .500 mark, topping the winless Columbus Destroyers (0-6), 47-35, Saturday evening at the Wells Fargo Center. The Soul have now won four straight games against the Destroyers and are 7-4 against the team in 11 overall meetings, with the previous coming in 2008.

The Destroyers entered the game averaging a AFL-worst 30.2 points per game, while the Soul entered with with a league third-best 41.6 points per game. Both teams bested their points per game average on Saturday, while Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh's six passing touchdowns came up huge in helping Clint Dolezel to his 80th career win as head coach of the team (80-35).

With the win, the Soul improved to 2-1 at home this season, as well as avoided their first four-game skid since 2011 which would have been their fifth-ever four-game skid in team history.

Continue reading "Soul End Skid, Edge Destroyers for 3rd Win" »


Soul Open 3-Game Homestand, Look to Snap 3-Game Skid Against Winless Destroyers

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By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Having lost three straight games — falling by an average margin of 10.3 points — the Philadelphia Soul (2-3) will look to return to the .500 mark against the winless Columbus Destroyers (0-5) Saturday evening at the Wells Fargo Center.

As the Soul kick off their three-game homestand and a stretch of four of five home games on Saturday, they will look to avoid their first four-game skid since 2011 — two seasons before Clint Dolezel assumed his current role as head coach. The Soul have only five four-game skids in their history.

Against the Destroyers — who returned to the league this season — the Soul have won three straight and are 6-4 all-time. The Soul's most recent win against the Destroyers came in 2008.

Continue reading "Soul Open 3-Game Homestand, Look to Snap 3-Game Skid Against Winless Destroyers" »


Soul Look to Rebound Opposite Reigning AFL Champion Valor

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By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Looking to rebound from their first loss of the season, the Philadelphia Soul (2-1) will take on the reigning Arena Football League champion Washington Valor (1-2) Saturday afternoon at Capital One Arena. The Soul have scored the second-most points (132, 44.0 points per game), while the Valor have allowed the most points (129) en route to a league-worst 43.0 points allowed per game. Yet, Washington is averaging a AFL-best 300.0 yards per game, while their QB, Arvell Nelson, leads the league with 17 touchdowns (12 passing, 5 rushing).

The Soul fell to the Albany Empire (3-0) last weekend at home, 57-48, despite QB Dan Raudabaugh throwing a season-high 306 yards and six scores — half of which were directed to WR Lonnie Outlaw, whose nine receptions yielded a career-high 191 yards and three scores, along with AFL Offensive Player of the Week honors. The Valor, meanwhile, earned their first win last week, defeating the Atlantic City Blackjacks (1-2) behind Nelson’s five touchdowns (3 passing, 2 rushing).

Soul head coach Clint Dolezel, along with GM and assistant coach Beau Bell, "have full confidence" in the team to bounce back from the loss. “We’ll clean up the mistakes and make sure that we’re fully-prepared to face the defending champs this weekend," Bell said.

The Soul have never lost at Capital One Arena (4-0), and are 6-1 against the Valor all-time, winning by an average of 17.0 points per game (56.3 points scored per game opposed to Valor's 41.9 in seven overall meetings).

Continue reading "Soul Look to Rebound Opposite Reigning AFL Champion Valor" »


Soul's Dolezel Earns 90th AFL Coaching Victory as Soul Top Brigade

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By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

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.


Lockdown Defense 

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.

Continue reading "Soul's Dolezel Earns 90th AFL Coaching Victory as Soul Top Brigade" »


Soul Vie for Revenge, 2nd Win in Road Battle Against Baltimore

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By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Coming off their thrilling 48-41 season-opening victory over the Atlantic City Blackjacks last Saturday at home, the Philadelphia Soul (1-0) will look to carry their momentum Friday evening in a Week 2 road matchup opposite the Baltimore Brigade (1-0) at Royal Farms Arena. Soul DL Sean Daniels and WR Aaron Wascha are listed as probable.

The Soul will not only play for their second victory of the 2019 season, but will also vie for revenge following last season's first-round playoff losses opposite the team, ending their hopes for a third straight championship season. The Soul lost both legs of the round and never held a lead.

Similar to the Soul, the Brigade also won their season opener, at home, by a single-digit margin, 59-51 over the Washington Valor. Brigade quarterback Shane Boyd tossed six touchdown passes, oppososed to Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh's two against the Blackjacks. Raudabaugh;s 151 passing yards was his lowest in a game since August 5, 2017 (145 in two quarters against the Tampa Bay Storm, where he rested second half ahead of postseason).

Brigade wide receiver Joe Hills, who led the AFL with 33 receiving touchdowns for the Albany Empire en route to 2018 First Team All-Arena honors, finished Baltimore's season opener last week with a team-high three scores. Soul FB Adrian Ferns also posted a team-high three scores in Week 1 against Atlantic City, all rushing touchdowns. Eight of Hill's 33 touchdowns in 2018 came against the Soul spanning three games.


National TV Deal

Prior to the game, the AFL announced a media rights deal with ESPN for the 2019 season. All games will be streamed on ESPN3, while ArenaBowl XXXII will be televised on ESPN2. Either NBC Sports Philadelphia or NBC Sports Philadelphia Plus will also air all Philadelphia Soul games this season.

Continue reading "Soul Vie for Revenge, 2nd Win in Road Battle Against Baltimore" »


Soul Win Season Opener as Romain Sets Franchise Interceptions Record

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Philadelphia Soul DB James Romain celebrates his first of two pick-6 interceptions opposite the Atlantic City Blackjacks and QB Randy Hippeard on Saturday, April 27, 2019, at the Wells Fargo Center (Kyle Bennett/Underground Sports Philadelphia).

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Kicking off its 14th season in franchise history before 9,245 fans, the Philadelphia Soul (1-0) edged Arena Football League newcomer Atlantic City Blackjacks (0-1), 48-41.

Taking the field for his 10th season in the league, Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh completed 21 of his 31 attempts, with one interception, combining for 151 yards and two touchdowns, one each to Darius Reynolds and Darius Prince. Fullback Adrian Ferns rushed for three touchdowns while netting 12 total yards.

With the win, the Soul won their fifth straight season opener, as well as their seventh straight game against a Ron James-coached team.


Romain Sets New Franchise Record

Last season's AFL Defensive Back of the Year, James Romain, made history in the second quarter. With the Soul down 20-7 and the Blackjacks threatening to extend their lead even further, Romain intercepted Blackjacks QB Randy Hippeard and went the distance for a 50-yard pick-6.

The interception, Romain's 33rd with the Soul since 2013, broke his tie with Eddie Moten (2005-08) for the most in franchise history.

With approximately five minutes to go in the third quarter, Romain would come up with another clutch pick-6, his second of the game to give the Soul their first lead following the successful extra-point (34-27).

Romain is the first AFL player to record multiple pick-sixes in a game since the Cleveland Gladiators' Joe Powell, against the Soul in 2016; he is the first Soul player to accomplish such feat since Joe Goosby in 2012. Also, Romain is one of the Soul's six returning defensive players from the 2018 season, in which he had four interceptions overall.


Game Notes:

  • Season-Opening Scuffles: Similar to tension seen at the Soul and Blackjacks' joint scrimmage on April 13 in Pitman, the season opener featured multiple scuffles between the two teams, culminating to two ejections with with just 48 seconds left in the first half: Blackjacks NG Micnaor Regis and Soul G Neal Tivis. The ejections happened after Darius Prince's touchdown at the end of the second quarter.
  • Serious Injury: With under seven minutes to go, Raudabaugh was picked off by Blackjacks DB Marvin Ross, who was carted off with a serious injury. Ross gave a thumbs up to the Philadelphia crowd.
  • Blackjacks’ receiver LaMark Brown finished with 79 yards and three touchdowns.

Stats

At Halftime

  • 1st downs: PHI 8, AC 5
  • Rushes-yards (net): PHI 6-3, AC 1-1
  • Passing yards (net): PHI 81, AC 90
  • Passing attempts-completions-interceptions: PHI 16-9-0, AC 13-8-1
  • Total offensive plays-yards: PHI 22-84, AC 14-91
  • Fumble returns-yards: PHI 0-0, AC 0-0
  • Punt returns-yards: PHI 0-0, AC 0-0
  • Kickoff returns-yards: PHI 2-21, AC 1-27
  • Interception returns-yards: PHI 1-50, AC 0-0
  • Punts (number-average): PHI 0-0.0, AC 0-0.0
  • Fumbles-lost: PHI 1-1, AC 0-0
  • Penalties-yards: PHI 0-0, AC 2-5
  • Possession time: PHI 17:17, AC 12:43
  • Third-down conversions: PHI 2/5, AC 2/2
  • Fourth-down conversions: PHI 2/3, AC 0/0
  • Red-zone scores-chances: PHI 2/2, AC 3/4

End-of-game

  • 1st downs: PHI 17, AC 10
  • Rushes-yards (net): PHI 12-8, AC 1-1
  • Passing yards (net): PHI 151, AC 171
  • Passing attempts-completions-interceptions: PHI 31-21-1, AC 26-18-2
  • Total offensive plays-yards: PHI 43-159, AC 28-172
  • Fumble returns-yards: PHI 1-16, AC 0-0
  • Punt returns-yards: PHI 0-0, AC 0-0
  • Kickoff returns-yards: PHI 3-38, AC 4-76
  • Interception returns-yards: PHI 2-73, AC 1-10
  • Punts (number-average): PHI 0-0.0, AC 0-0.0
  • Fumbles-lost: PHI 1-1, AC 1-1
  • Penalties-yards: PHI 5-30, AC 7-24
  • Possession time: PHI 35:17, AC 24:43
  • Third-down conversions: PHI 3/8, AC 3/4
  • Fourth-down conversions: PHI 3/4, AC 0/0
  • Red-zone scores-chances: PHI 5/5, AC 4/6

Scoring Summary:

1st quarter

  • AC, 7-0: QB Randy Hippeard to WR LaMark Brown (9 yards); 11:32 left in quarter
  • AC, 14-0: Blackjacks recover fumble on their kickoff to Soul; QB Randy Hippeard sneak (1 yard); 10:05 left in quarter
  • PHI, 7-14: FB Adrian Ferns rushing TD (1 yard); 1:11 left in quarter

2nd quarter

  • AC, 20-7: QB Randy Hippeard to WR LaMark Brown (38 yards); extra point missed; 14:14 left in half
  • PHI, 14-20: DB James Romain pick-6 (50 yards); 9:34 left in half
  • AC, 27-14: QB Randy Hippeard to WR LaMark Brown (14 yards); 6:35 left in half
  • PHI, 20-27: QB Dan Raudabaugh to WR Darius Prince (3 yards); extra point missed; 1:32 left in half

3rd quarter

  • PHI, 27-27: FB Adrian Ferns rushing TD (11 yard); 7:37 left in quarter
  • PHI, 34-27: DB James Romain pick-6 (23 yards); 5:34 left in quarter
  • AC, 34-34, QB Randy Hippeard to WR Antwane Grant (28 yards); 2:35 left in quarter

4th quarter

  • PHI, 41-34: QB Dan Raudabaugh to WR Darius Reynolds (3 yards); 14:16 left in game
  • AC, 41-41: QB Randy Hippeard to WR Kendrick Ings (2 yards); 5:56 left in game
  • PHI, 48-41: FB Adrian Ferns rushing TD (2 yards); 3:43 left in game

Soul Injury Report:

  • Center Jahlil Mathis-Ellis left game in 1st quarter and was replaced by tight end PK Manley. DB Willie Bailey also left with an injury; neither he, nor Mathis-Ellis, returned.
  • DE Sean Daniels walked off the field with approximately 13 minutes and 30 seconds to go. WR Darius Reynolds was shaken up late in the fourth, while completing a pass (59 seconds to go), with the Soul up 48-41. Both Daniels and Reynolds returned to action.
  • Injured reserve: OL Kyle Avaloy, FB Brandon Cottom, WR Josh Holderfield, WR DJ Myers

What's Next:

  • Friday, May 3, 2019: at Baltimore Brigade (1-0), 7 p.m.
    • TV: NBCSP+; Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic