Soul Advance to ArenaBowl 32
Philadelphia, PA – The Philadelphia Soul hosted the Washington Valor for the 2nd leg in the two-game playoff series at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA in front of 8,537 fans. This game proved to be the nail on the coffin as the Valor had to not only win the game but also score an extra 36 points to win the series due to the aggregate scoring from last week’s game. The Soul would prove to be dominate and came out with a win, thus securing their spot for ArenaBowl 32.
The Soul came out firing on all cylinders in the first half. The defense stopped the Valor’s opening drive. Which would in turn set up a beautiful play from Dan Raudabaugh to Darius Prince for a touchdown on the Soul’s opening possession. The Valor would answer back with a touchdown of their own via a pass from second Arena All Team QB Arvell Nelson to Doug McNeil. The PAT would fail keeping the Soul in the lead by one. On their next possession, the Soul’s Adrian Ferns would then respond with a rushing touchdown to end the first quarter as the Soul led 14-6.
Opening up the 2nd quarter, the mobility of QB Arvell Nelson would allow him to run in for a 3-yard touchdown. The Soul and Valor would then exchange kickoff return touchdowns back to back. The first coming from Torez Jones, who would take an onside kick back. Desmond Epps would follow that up with take a full kickoff return for a touchdown, allowing the Valor to keep pace. Lonnie Outlaw came up big on special teams by securing an onside kick (one of many in this game), and then catch a touchdown on that same drive.
The Valor and Soul would continue to trade scores one from Josh Reese touchdown catch for the Valor and then Adrian Ferns would catch a 7-yard touchdown pass. The quarter, and half, would end with the Valor driving down the field only to have the ball intercepted by Torez Jones. The Soul would lead the Valor 35-28 at the end of the first half.
The second half was just as exciting as the first half with the Valor defense coming up big on the first drive stopping the Soul from driving down the field and scoring and the offense would compliment with a big touchdown pass to Reggie Gray to tie the game up at 35. The Soul and Valor would again trade scores, one from Darius Prince who caught a beautiful pass and Desmond Epps would catch one too making the score tied at 41. The Soul defense would then come up big again, they were able to apply a lot of pressure to Arvell Nelson and keep him contained so he wouldn’t scramble. Soul would for a turnover on downs and take the ball over heading into the 4th quarter. But the Valor defense would respond back with the help of some drops by the Soul receivers to force a turnover on downs again. The Soul defense would step up huge again with the help of Malik Forrester who would force 2 impressive sacks along with Sean Daniels 1 sack on the drive as the Soul defensive line would continue to create pressure and for Nelson to make bad decisions and reads. The Soul would force a turnover on downs at their own goal line. Behind Dan Raudabaugh, the Soul would quick drive down the field and score with a touchdown pass to Darius Prince who would record his third touchdown for the day. The Soul defense would close out the game with the help of Malik Forrester picking up his 3rd sack of the game. Dwayne Hollis would then intercept the ball and seal the win for the Soul. The final score would be 48-41. With the final aggregate scoring 117-74 Soul winning the series.
Dan Raudabaugh would finish the game with 12/26 for 140 yards and 5 touchdowns. His main target was Darius Princes who would grab 6 catches for 93 yards and 3 touchdowns. Lonnie Outlaw and Adrian Ferns were the other two receiving touchdowns and Ferns getting a rushing touchdown too. The defense came up big with Malik Forrester getting 3 sacks, Sean Daniels getting 1 sack and Tyrell Robinson getting a sack too. But Torez Jones and Dwayne Hollis both would end up getting an interception in the game too. Special teams were crucial too as the Valor attempted 7 onside kicks in the game with only one of them being successful. Also on special teams also had a huge return by Jones.
On the losing side, Arvell Nelson played decent going 23/42 with 363 yards and 4 touchdowns but was sacked 5 times and picked off twice but also had a rushing touchdown. His top targets were Doug McNeil (7 catches, 92 yards, 1 touchdown), Desmond Epps (6 catches, 114 yards, 1 touchdown), and Josh Reese (5 catches 83 yards, 1 touchdown). Epps would also have a touchdown from a kickoff return.
After the game Coach Dolezel said how he is starting to grow on the aggregate scoring and playoff series that the AFL introduced saying that even though this year wasn’t so interesting, last year was a very exciting series.
The Soul would travel to Albany next week to play against ArenaBowl 32 host, the Albany Empire. This will be the 3rd time out of 4 years the Soul made it to the ArenaBowl and the 6th time in franchise history. The Soul are 3-2 in the ArenaBowl heading into the game. The ArenaBowl will be on Sunday August 11th, 2019 at Times Union Center in Albany, NY. The game will be broadcasted nationally on ESPN 2 and the game will start at 8pm EDT/ 5pm PDT.