Courtesy: Philadelphia Soul Media Relations
PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Soul clinched a postseason berth for the eighth straight season on Saturday afternoon, defeating the Albany Empire 54-43 in front of a crowd of 10,564 fans. A dominant second half propelled the team to victory, as the defense forced three turnovers.
Facing an Albany defense that entered the game allowing a league-best 60% red zone conversion rate, the Soul scored eight touchdowns in as many red zone trips. Quarterback Dan Raudabaugh finished the game 21-32 for 231 yards and seven scores.
While the team got off to a slow start following an interception on their opening drive, Philadelphia entered the half trailing by just a point after two scores by Darius Prince and a stellar one-handed touchdown catch from BJ Bunn.
The defense then got the stop they needed to start the second half, as Sean Daniels sacked Empire quarterback Tommy Grady for a 12-yard loss on third down, forcing the Empire into fourth and long on their first possession. With the defensive line getting pressure to Grady again on the next play, defensive back Torez Jones picked off an errant pass.
What followed was arguably the team’s best half of the season. Darius Prince’s third touchdown catch gave the Soul their first lead of the game and the team pulled away from there, outscoring Albany 14-0 in the third quarter.
After suffering his first sack of the season, Grady struggled to find his form. Having completed 11 of 15 passes for three scores in the first half, the 2018 league MVP was just 8-18 in the second. And while top target Malachi Jones had a big day, catching 11 passes for 171 yards and three touchdowns, the defense forced a turnover on downs late in the third quarter and picked off a second Grady pass in the fourth.
In addition to clinching a playoff spot, the win also marked Clint Dolezel’s 94th in the Arena Football League, breaking a tie with Redskins coach Jay Gruden for 7th-most in league history.