9th Man Nation


Courtesy: Albany Empire Media Relations

Jones Named Offensive Player of the Game

The Albany Empire (3-2) defeated the Philadelphia Soul (3-2) 41-36 Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA in front of a crowd of 9,715.  The big win for the Empire broke the Soul’s active streak of 20 consecutive wins at home.  Empire quarterback Tommy Grady threw for 178 yards and five touchdowns earning himself the game MVP award.  Empire receiver Malachi Jones had seven receptions for 63 yards and two receiving touchdowns, while chipping one rushing touchdown and earning himself Offensive Player of the Game for the second straight week.  Soul’s James Romain was named Defensive Player of the Game with eight total tackles and an interception.

The Soul received the initial kick and began their drive at their own five-yard line by opening with a 16-yard connection from Raudabaugh to Reynolds.  Two plays later, the Soul found the end zone on a 27-yard hookup to Darius Prince to jump out to an early 7-0 lead.

Albany began their ensuing possession on their own five-yard line after a touchback on the kickoff.  After a short completion to Joe Hills, the Empire were helped by a pass interference on fourth down to extend the drive.  The drive was stalled by an interception by defensive back James Romaine on a pass intended for Hills in the end zone.  Three plays into the Soul drive, Raudabaugh was hit hard by a swarm of Empire defensive linemen and was temporarily knocked out of the game, leaving backup quarterback Greg McGhee to handle the next play.  After giving up a sack to Empire lineman Nick Seither, Raudabaugh returned to the game.  The Soul failed to convert on fourth down, turning the ball back over to Albany.  At the end of the first quarter, Philadelphia led the defensive battle 7-0.

With the first play of the second quarter, the Empire were setback by an intentional grounding penalty on third down and were unable to convert on a long fourth down to give the ball back over to the Soul.  Philadelphia worked quickly as they crossed into Empire territory in just two plays.  Unable to convert another first down, the Soul attempted a long 46 field goal.  The field goal was no good and returned by Empire receiver Collin Taylor to the five-yard line, but thanks to a Soul penalty, the Empire began their drive from the 15-yard line.  Two plays later, Grady connected with Malachi Jones for a 30-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-7.

The Soul methodically worked the ball down field using up nearly eight minutes of the clock.  Philadelphia capped their long drive with 13-yard touchdown to receiver Shaun Kauleinamoku.  After the score, the Soul attempted an onside kick but failed to recover, giving the Empire the ball on the opposing nine-yard line with under a minute remaining in the first half.

Albany wasted no time as Grady connected with Jones for his second touchdown reception of the half to give the Empire a 14-13 lead.  The Empire then failed to recover an onside kick of their own, setting up the Soul on the Albany 12-yard line.  The Soul would take advantage of the short field by taking back the lead on a 27-yard field goal.  With little time on the clock, the Empire couldn’t find a way to score, with the first half ending 16-14 in favor of the Soul.

The Empire opened the second half with the ball on the 13-yard line after a nice return by Jordan Williams.  Using little time, Tommy Grady found his favorite target Joe Hills in the end zone on a beautiful 24-yard hookup to give the lead back to Albany, 21-16.  The score marked the 85th consecutive game with a receiving touchdown for Hills; an active AFL record.

After a touchback, the Soul began their second half on their own five-yard line.  The second play of the drive went nearly the length of the field for Philadelphia but was brought back to midfield by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by receiver Darius Reynolds.  The Soul completed multiple short passes as they marched into the end zone on a four-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Wascha.

Albany would begin their next possession on their own 20-yard line after the Soul kickoff went out of bounds outside of the nets.  Two plays later, Grady connected with Jordan Williams for a 25-yard touchdown; the first touchdown reception of Williams’ young AFL career.  The first play of the Soul’s next possession ended with a fumble by fullback Adrian Ferns, giving the ball back to the Empire inside of the Soul 5-yard line.  Defensive end Joe Sykes forced the fumble giving him a league leading four forced fumbles on the season.  The Empire capitalized on the Soul turnover with a one-yard touchdown run by Malachi Jones to further the Albany lead.  At the end of the third quarter, the Empire led 35-23.

After crossing midfield, the Soul were pushed back thanks to a sack by Nick Seither, his second of the game.  The very next play, Raudabaugh was intercepted by Terence Moore setting up the Empire offense on the 25-yard line.  Unable to move the ball, the Empire turned the ball over on downs.  The first Soul play resulted in an interception by Varmah Sonie in the Soul end zone which he returned to the Albany 21-yard line.  Three plays later, Grady connected with fullback Wes Mauia on a short pass that turned into an 18-yard touchdown.

The ensuing Soul kickoff was returned the length of the field but brought back due to a block in the back penalty giving Philadelphia the ball on their own 21-yard line.  McGhee took over quarterback duties for the Soul being down three scores in the fourth quarter and led the Soul to a touchdown on a 7-yard pass to Wascha, his second score of the game.

The Empire took over on the opposing six-yard line after a failed onside kick by the Soul with just under two minutes to go in the game.  The Empire were unable to capitalize on the short field, giving the ball back to the Soul who then drove down field and capped with an eight-yard touchdown to Darius Prince to close the Empire gap to 41-36 with 33 seconds remaining.  The Empire recovered the Soul onside kick attempt and were able to kneel the ball to run the remaining seconds on the clock and come away with a victory.

Albany Empire 2018 Inaugural Season Presented By CDPHP.

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