PHILADELPHIA - With Eagles QB Nick Foles and TE Zach Ertz being the honorary captain, the Soul performed well in their home opener in front of 12,311 fans. The Soul defeated the Jacksonville Sharks, 54-41.
The Soul opened up the game with a 24 yard touchdown pass from QB Dan Raudabaugh to Tiger Jones. Followed by a Sharks fumble that was recovered by DB James Romain and taken back for a 33 yard touchdown. These two big plays not only put the Soul up 14-0, but throughout the game it prevented the Sharks from taking the lead.
The offense went through some bumps during the first half. Raudabaugh threw three interceptions and had several passes broken up. Dan quickly adjusted in the second half to a much better performance. Raudabaugh understands what they need to cut out to keep the positive consistency up.
"I think we had four turnovers tonight, we gotta cut that out if we want to win," Raudabaugh told reporters after the game at the Wells Fargo Center. "We want to beat teams in our division. Cleveland is in first place (5-0), Iowa (3-2) is playing well and Pittsburgh (3-2) is hot right now. We just got to keep playing Soul ball."
Raudabaugh threw a deep bomb to WR Ryan McDaniel for 49 yards in the third quarter that became the turning point in the second half. Ever since that touchdown that put the Soul up 34-27, the Soul kept Jacksonville scoreless for nine minutes. McDaniel ended the night with 2 catches, 88 yards and 3 touchdowns. McDaniel talked about the difficulty of the catch to reporters.
"It was a tough catch," McDaniel said. "Dan threw it right to me and I just made the play."
As usual, Derrick Ross had an outstanding game running with the football. Ross ran for 58 yards off of 10 carries (avg 5.8 yards) and 3 touchdowns. One of the touchdowns came off of a 12 yard run that broke through several tackles.
"It was amazing, I ran around the corner, saw daylight and found my way into the end zone." said FB Derrick Ross in front of reporters. "I'm happy to be in Philadelphia and this where I belong."
The defense from the Soul continued to improve. The team totaled 33 tackles, 5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 1 interception. The secondary was led by Kendrick Harper, James Romain, Larico Stevenson and Rayshaun Kizer.
"We just played Soul ball." DB Bryan Robinson said. "We picked up where they (Jacksonville) were failing at the time and that's just how football works. When the offense isn't clicking, the defense has to step up and today we did our job."
Sharks QB Aaron Garcia, 43, (RJ Archer replaced) was constantly getting sacked by the Soul's vicious defensive front. He was receiving pressure from Teddy Jennings, TJ Langley and Bryan Robinson. Garcia went 26-41, had 253 yards, 5 touchdowns and 1 interception.
"He's well known in the league, established and he's a hall of famer." DB Bryan Robinson told reporters. "It just makes you more hungry, you want to get after somebody who has a big name."
Soul head coach Clint Dolezel mentioned the great performance the Soul put on and says there are still things that they need to clean up.
“We were able to build off of our strong defensive effort and played a complete game,” said Soul head coach Clint Dolezel. “It was important to get a win in front of the home crowd. We still would like to clean up a few things, but we got big plays out of our defense and our offense was able to capitalize.”
The Soul (2-3) will remain in Philadelphia next week for their division matchup against the 3-2 Iowa Barnstormers. Game is set to kickoff at 4pm ET at the Wells Fargo Center, will be available on ESPN2 as well.
Russell Athletic Offensive Player: FB Derrick Ross
Riddell Defensive Player: DB Rayshaun Kizer
J Lewis Small AFL Playmaker: WR Tiger Jones
Cutter’s Catch of the Game: WR Ryan McDaniel 49-yard catch
Spalding Highlight of the Game: Philadelphia’s James Romain 33-yard fumble return for a TD