PITTSBURGH, PA (July 26th) - Because of a Cleveland Gladiators victory over the Tampa Bay Storm, the Philadelphia Soul clinched their 3rd straight playoff appearance and will play Cleveland in the first round of the 2014 playoffs.
Earlier on the final night of regular season football, the Philadelphia Soul kicked off at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh to face the Power, but the Soul rarely stopped Pittsburgh from scoring.
The Soul never lead the entire game. Ever since the first quarter when Power QB Tommy Grady threw a 14-yard TD to his number one receiver on the night, Prechae Rodriguez with 12 minutes left, Philadelphia struggled offensively and defensively. After the touchdown, the Soul turned the ball over on downs that essentially led to a Grady to Edwards 7-yard touchdown to increase the lead to 13-0 (Missed XP). In the second quarter, Pittsburgh started to power up as DB Virgil Gray was all over the Soul’s WR corp. Gray, defensive player of the game, had a total of 7 tackles, 2 interceptions and eight pass breakups. The Power lead at the end of the half 27-7.
Power QB Tommy Grady, Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the game, played impressively in front of 9,549 fans. Grady completed 15 out of 23 passes, for 136 yards and seven touchdowns. His stats also benefited from his amazing WR crew, predominantly Rodriguez. Prechae led the team with six receptions, 54 yards and four touchdowns.
A rarity came from the offensive unit as WR Tiger Jones and QB Dan Raudabaugh both struggled. Jones dropped 5 straight passes and on the other hand, Raudabaugh threw too many overthrown balls and interceptions. Not to mention, Raudabaugh threw a pick to Virgil Gray to eventually give the Power a 34-7 lead.
After the Soul were down 41-14 in the third quarter, coach Dolezel decided to make a decision to switch out a struggling Raudabaugh for backup QB Bryan Randall. Raudabaugh ended his horrific night by going 11-35, 102 yards, 1TD and three interceptions.
The Soul were hoping for some type of spark by bringing in rookie QB Bryan Randall. Randall brought some life into the Philadelphia Soul by scoring two touchdowns on his first couple of possessions. Randall finished the game by completing 9-15 passes, threw 127 yards and three touchdowns.
Soul head coach Clint Dolezel released a statement about the embarrassing regular season finale loss to their division rival.
“Disappointed doesn’t begin to describe how we are feeling right now,” said Soul head coach Clint Dolezel said in a statement. “You hate having to back into the playoffs, but we will be rooting for Cleveland and get in the right frame of mind to be ready for next week. It was in our hands, now we need the help.”
Well, luckily for Coach Dolezel and the Soul unit, the Cleveland Gladiators won later that night against the Tampa Bay Storm 56-49 that helped the Soul get back into the postseason. From their track record, the Soul are 9-4 in the postseason (06, 07, 08, 12, 13) and are a different team when it comes to playoffs. They’ve reached the Arena Bowl back to back years in 2012 and 2013 but to only fall short to Arizona.
The first round of the playoffs will open up at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland Ohio as the Soul will travel to face the Gladiators. The Soul will look to get revenge on Cleveland after losing both games to them by buzzer beaters. Last time the Soul visited Ohio was back on May 23rd where they lost to the Gladiators, eliminating the fact that they were up by 17 with 1:00 minute left.
Kickoff will start at unofficial time, 7:00pm ET (Check later for official time). The game is watchable on CBS Sports Network and ESPN 3.