Courtesy: Albany Empire Media Relations
Albany Remains in First Place Heading into the Bye Week
The Albany Empire (8-2) were defeated by the Philadelphia Soul (6-4), 54-43, in front of 10,564 fans at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night. Soul quarterback, Dan Raudabaugh, completed 21 of 32 passes for 231 yards and seven touchdowns, earning himself the game MVP award. Empire receiver, Malachi Jones, hauled in 11 passes for 171 yards, and three receiving touchdowns, being named Offensive Player of the Game. Soul defensive back, Torez Jones, added four tackles and an interception, being named Defensive Player of the Game.
Philadelphia received the game’s opening kick and began with the ball on their own three-yard line. After two incomplete deep attempts down field, Raudabaugh connected with BJ Bunn over the middle to give the Soul a fresh set of downs. On first down, Raudabaugh went right back to Bunn near the sideline for a gain of six yards while crossing midfield. After consecutive incomplete passes, Raudabaugh was intercepted by Terence Moore, giving the Empire the ball on their own 23-yard line for their first possession of the contest. In one play, quarterback Tommy Grady threw a laser to Jones who caught the ball against the wall and walked into the end zone to give the Empire an early lead.
Starting from their own two, Raudabaugh threw a quick pass to former Empire receiver, Jordan Williams, for a gain of three yards. On the next play, Raudabaugh went down field to his top target, Darius Prince, who ran the ball down to the Empire six-yard line. Two plays later, Raudabaugh went back to Prince on a swing route for a short gain. On third and goal, Raudabaugh threw an incomplete pass threw the end zone to set up a fourth down and two. On fourth down, Raudabaugh threw a quick hitter to Prince to tie the game at seven.
Empire return man, AJ Coney, was tripped up after nearly breaking free as the Albany offense began on their own seven-yard line. On first down, Grady hit Jones over the middle who had plenty of space and ran the ball across midfield to the Soul 19. Going right back to Jones, Grady once again found his top target on a cross route to gain 11 yards and another first down. From the nine-yard line, Grady threw one near the sideline for Collin Taylor who made an impressive grab on a ball that was destined for the seats. One play later, Grady lofted one to the League’s leader in touchdown grabs, Quentin Sims, who came down with the ball in the end zone to reclaim the lead.
The ensuing kickoff flew through the uprights, giving the ball to the Soul on their own five-yard line. On first down, Raudabaugh found Williams along the sideline dasher for a quick gain of eight. One play later, Raudabaugh went right back to Williams who moved the ball down to the Empire 10-yard line. Raudabaugh then found his top target, Prince, in the end zone to once again tie the game.
Albany would start from their own five-yard line after the ball was touched by a fan in the end zone on the Soul kickoff. On first down, Grady handed the ball off to Mykel Benson who plowed ahead for a gain of 10 yards and a new set of downs. Following consecutive incomplete deep attempts, Grady found Jones along the sideline in Soul territory who was taken down at the 18-yard line. After a five-yard gain on first down, Albany was aided by a Soul penalty to move the ball into the red zone. The Empire were flagged on consecutive plays for offsides, backing the ball up to their own 22-yard line. On second and 29, Grady connected with Jones on a bubble screen who then ran the ball down Soul 13-yard line. One play later, Grady hit Taylor, in the corner of the end zone who leaped over a Soul defender and came down with the ball for the score.
Failing to recover an onside kick, Philadelphia began with the ball on the Empire 10-yard line. On first down, Raudabaugh threw a quick out to Bunn for a gain of seven yards. Following an incomplete pass, Albany used their first timeout of the first half. On the next play, Raudabaugh went back to Bunn who tipped the ball up and came down with it in the end zone for the score. Albany used their second timeout of the half following the catch. The extra point was no good, leaving the Empire with a one-point lead, 21-20.
Coney returned the Soul kickoff to the Empire six as the offense took over with under a minute remaining in the half. Albany used it’s third timeout of the half after Grady connected with Sims who was taken down just shy of midfield. Following an incomplete pass, the clock continued to run, as Grady found an open Taylor who was tackled short of the end zone as Albany took the narrow lead into halftime.
The Empire would begin with the ball to start the third quarter after a nice return by Coney who carried the ball to midfield. After an incomplete pass, Grady threw a dart to Jones who was taken down at the Soul 10-yard line. Following consecutive incomplete passes, Grady was sacked for the first time this season by Soul lineman, Sean Daniels. On the next play, Grady was intercepted by Jones to give the ball to Philadelphia on their own 16. On first down, Raudabaugh connected with Williams who was quickly tackled at the Albany 15-yard line. One play later, Raudabaugh went to Prince in the end zone who hauled in the pass for his third touchdown reception of the night.
Attempting a pooch kickoff, Sims would recover the ball as the Empire offense took over on the Philadelphia 19. Following a short completion to Jones and an incomplete pass, Grady was once again under pressure and narrowly avoided a second sack, setting up fourth and six to go. Unable to complete a pass, the Empire turned the ball over to the Soul.
The Soul opened up their next possession with a toss to Adrian Ferns who moved ahead to the Empire 24-yard line. Defensive end, Joe Sykes, pressured Raudabaugh on first down, eventually bringing the quarterback down for a sack. On second down, Raudabaugh found Bunn in Empire territory, who was taken down at the 19. The Soul moved into the red zone after Raudabaugh connected with Prince for a gain of 17 yards. Raudabaugh would then hand the ball off to Ferns who muscled ahead for the short score to widen the Soul lead, 34-21.
Beginning on their own five, Albany opened up with a screen to Sims for a quick gain of eight yards. After nearly being intercepted on second down, the third quarter came to a close with the Empire trailing by 13. To open the final quarter, Grady handed the ball off to Benson who gain a yard, leaving the Empire one yard short of the chains. On fourth down, Grady went right back to Benson who fell forward for the first down on the Albany 20-yard line. One play later, Grady went deep to Jones who hauled in his second touchdown of the night, this time from 30-yards out.
Albany would attempt an onside kick but failed to recover, giving the Soul the football on the six-yard line. Helped by a defensive pass interference penalty on Albany, the Soul moved inside the five. Following an incomplete pass, Raudabaugh floated one up to Outlaw who flipped over the wall but held on for the score.
Starting from their own four after a holding penalty on the kickoff, Grady was intercepted for the second time of the night, turning the ball back over to Philadelphia on the Soul 19-yard line. After a short completion to Prince on first down, Raudabaugh threw a quick pass to Bunn to move the chains and push the ball into Empire territory. One play later, Raudabaugh found Bunn wide open along the side who walked into the end zone for the score. The two-point conversion attempt was no good, leaving the Soul with a 19-point lead.
Aided by a Soul penalty on the kickoff, the Empire would start on their own 10-yard line. On first down, Grady was flushed out of the pocket and found Taylor for a five-yard gain. Once again going back to Taylor, the Empire would gain a first down at midfield. After a short completion to Jones, Grady went back to Jones in the end zone to narrow the gap. Once again Albany failed to recover an onside kick attempt, as the Soul started on their own 14. Following an incomplete pass, Raudabaugh went to Outlaw for a short completion moving inside the five. Albany used their first timeout of the second half after another incomplete pass. After another incomplete pass, Albany used their second timeout of the half with just under a minute remaining in the game. The Soul would score on the following play as Raudabaugh threw a fade to Outlaw, widening the Philadelphia lead to 54-35.
The Soul nearly recovered the ensuing kickoff, but the ball hit the side wall, giving Albany the ball at the 15-yard line. On first down, quarterback Mason Espinosa threw a quick pass to Taylor who reached over the wall to stop the clock. Albany used their final timeout after Espinosa hit Coney to move the ball into Soul territory. Following an incomplete pass, Espinosa located Coney for the touchdown, the first touchdown of both rookies’ careers. Two-point conversion attempt was successful as Espinosa connected with Troy Grant Jr.
The Soul would recover the Empire onside kick attempt and takeover on the 11-yard line with just eight seconds to go in the game. After one kneel down by Raudabaugh, the game was over as the Empire fell to the Soul, 54-43.
Albany Empire 2019 Season Presented By CDPHP.