Courtesy: Albany Empire Media Relations
Albany Starts 2019 in Sole Possession of First Place
The Albany Empire (3-0) defeated the Philadelphia Soul (2-1), 57-48, in front of 9,843 fans at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night to remain undefeated to start the 2019 season. Empire quarterback, Tommy Grady, had an efficient night, going 14 of 17 passes for 256 yards and seven passing touchdowns earning himself the game MVP award. Soul receiver, Lonnie Outlaw, hauled in nine catches for 191 yards and three touchdowns, being named Offensive Player of the Game. Empire defensive back, Arkeith Brown, had an onside kick return for a touchdown and a game-clinching interception, being named Defensive Player of the Game.
After receiving the initial kickoff, Albany began the game’s opening drive from their own 14-yard line after a nice return by receiver, Demetres Stephens. Following an incomplete pass, quarterback Tommy Grady connected with receiver, Malachi Jones, for a quick first down to move the ball into Philadelphia territory. Grady then connected with Collin Taylor on consecutive passes, including a 13-yard touchdown to take an early lead.
The Albany kickoff went through the slack net, giving Philadelphia the ball on their own five-yard line. After a short run to Ferns, Soul quarterback, Dan Raudabaugh, found Lonnie Outlaw on a crossing route that he took 38 yards to the house to tie the game. Not able to get out of the end zone on the ensuing kickoff, Albany took over on their own three-yard line. Following a short gain by Taylor, the Empire picked up a first down due to a defensive pass interference penalty on the Soul. After an incomplete pass and an encroachment penalty on Philadelphia, Grady hit Stephens who was wide open in the end zone for the score.
Starting from their own 10-yard line, Raudabaugh went deep to receiver, Aaron Wascha, who drew a pass interference call to move the ball up to their own 20. After another penalty moved the Soul up five more yards, Raudabaugh found Outlaw on a quick pass to push the ball into the red zone. Following a no gain and two incomplete passes, the Soul were bailed out by a defensive pass interference to gain a fresh set of downs as time expired in the first quarter. Three plays later, full back Adrian Ferns plowed his way forward for the three-yard score. The extra point was no good, keeping Albany in the lead, 14-13.
Albany began their first possession of the second quarter from their own five-yard line after the Soul kickoff went through the slack net. After a short rush by fullback, Mykel Benson, Grady hit Jones in stride from 43 yards out for the score. Soul kick returner, Jordan Williams, had a nice return, setting up the Philadelphia offense on their own 13-yard line. Following an incomplete pass, Raudabaugh once again connected with Outlaw to move past midfield. On first down, Raudabaugh nearly linked up with Prince in the end zone, but the receiver ran out of room, hitting the wall and dropping the pass. Following short gains to Prince on second and third down, Raudabaugh moved the chains with a quarterback sneak. The Soul moved closer to pay dirt after a defensive pass interference on Albany. Two plays later, from their own six-yard line, Raudabaugh found Prince on a slant route for the touchdown.
The Soul failed to recover an onside kick attempt, giving the Albany offense the ball on the six-yard line. After consecutive short yard rushes by Benson, Grady took his time to eventually find receiver, Quentin Sims, in the end zone who caught the ball over the Soul defender. The score marked Grady’s fourth passing touchdown of the half. With one timeout remaining, the Soul began their final drive of the half from their own two-yard line. In two plays, the Soul were quickly across midfield. The Soul elected to attempt a long field goal by kicker Kenny Spencer as time expired, but the attempt was missed, as the game entered halftime with a score of 28-20 in favor of Albany.
Taking the second half’s opening possession, Philadelphia began their drive from their own eight-yard line. On the first play, Raudabaugh fired a quick pass to Wascha who maneuvered his way to the Empire 22-yard line. Following an incomplete pass on first down, Prince drew a defensive pass interference to move the ball forward another 10 yards and give the Soul a new set of downs. After a short gain by Prince to get the Soul into the red zone, Albany committed another defensive pass interference penalty, giving Philadelphia the ball on the five-yard line. After two rush attempts for minimal gain, Raudabaugh found Prince on the quick hitter for his second receiving touchdown of the night.
Leading by a point early in the second half, the Albany offense began on their own nine-yard line. On the first play, Grady found Stephens deep down the field for the quick 41-yard touchdown. Following a short gain by Outlaw on first down and a near interception on second, Raudabaugh floated one to Outlaw who ran it 39 yards for the Soul touchdown.
Albany began their ensuing possession on their own one-yard line after a holding penalty on the kickoff moved the ball back. On first down, Grady connected with Jones down field to move the ball into Soul territory. From the opposing 11-yard line, Grady found Sims for a short gain on first down. Following an offsides penalty on Albany pushing the ball back to the 16-yard line, Grady went right back to Sims for the score.
The Soul received the ensuing kickoff as Williams ran the ball out to the Philadelphia four-yard line as time expired in the third quarter. On the first play of the quarter, Raudabaugh connected with Wascha who was stopped right at midfield. A few plays later, Raudabaugh found Prince for the third time of the night in the end zone. The two-point attempt was no good, leaving Albany with a 42-40 lead. The Empire began their next drive from their own nine-yard line. In four plays. Grady connected with Jones on three of them, including a drive-capping 13-yard touchdown; Grady’s seventh of the night.
Williams made a nice one-handed catch off the next on the Empire kickoff before turning up field and making it to the Soul 12-yard line. On the drive’s first play, Raudabaugh went deep to Outlaw who muscled his way down inside the red zone. Following no gains on the first two downs, the Soul were helped out by a defensive pass interference to move the ball down to the Empire one-yard line. After losing a yard on first down, Raudabaugh found Outlaw on the sideline who walked in for the score. The two-point conversion attempt was successful as Raudabaugh hit Prince over the middle, to bring the score 49-48 in Albany’s favor.
Empire defensive back Arkeith Brown recovered the Soul onside kick attempt and ran the ball forward for a quick Albany score on special teams. The two-point conversion attempt was successful as Grady found Jones wide open on the sideline, extending Albany’s lead to 57-48. Narrowly avoiding a safety on the Empire kickoff, Williams was tackled by Christian Briggs inside of the Soul one-yard line. On first down, Raudabaugh fired the ball to Outlaw along the dashers, for a quick new set of downs. One play later, Raudabaugh went to Wascha over the middle who shifted his way into Empire territory before being brought down at the Albany 13-yard line. Following a Soul timeout, Raudabaugh threw an incomplete pass towards the end zone, forcing the Soul to use their second timeout of the half. On second down, Raudabaugh threw another incomplete pass, as Philadelphia used their third and final timeout of the game. On the next play, Raudabaugh was intercepted by Brown to all but end the game.
Albany Empire 2019 Season Presented By CDPHP.