The 2016 Arena League Football Champion Philadelphia Soul began the 2017 season with two wins on the road and on Saturday, April 28th, they played host to the Baltimore Brigade in their first home game of the season. Close to 12,000 fans were on hand on Saturday night to see the Soul get their 2016 championship rings, raise the banner, and attempt to beat Baltimore to move to 3-0 on the current season. It didn’t take long for the home fans to get their first in-person look at the 2017 squad and realize that this team has a real chance to repeat as league champions.
Picking up right where they left off last season, the Soul won the coin toss and elected to kick-off. The defense came up big and forced the Brigade into a turnover on downs. Wasting little time, Philly executed a 13-yard rush from FB Mykel Benson for a touchdown to make it 7-0. The defense again forced a turnover on downs that led to the Soul’s second TD of the game. This time it was QB Dan Raudabaugh hitting WR Ryan McDaniel for a 15 yard strike and with another converted extra-point, Philly went up 14-0. With the first quarter coming to a close, the Soul blocked a punt which was recovered in the end zone by “Money” Reynolds, leading to a 21-0 score with one quarter in the books.
Baltimore finally got on the board in their opening drive of the second quarter, a 14-yard touchdown pass from QB Shane Carden to WR LaQuan Williams, to make it 21-7. The Soul came right back and scored a TD, the second hook-up between Raudabaugh and McDaniel to extend Philly’s lead back to 21 (28-7). The next two TDs were scored by the Brigade, a long score from Carden to WR Julian Talley and a short pass from Carden to WR Rory Nixon, and with two extra points, the Soul’s lead was down to 28-21. With under a minute left in the half, the Soul got back into the scoring with another 2-yard TD rush by Benson. At the half, Philly led Baltimore 35-21.
The Raudabaugh to McDaniel connection continued in the third quarter with the duo hooking up on their third TD of the game, increasing the lead to 42-21 in favor of the home team. After a failed onsides kick, Baltimore got another TD (Carden to Talley) and inched within 14 points of Philadelphia. Like a broken record, Raudabaugh to McDaniel connected again for their fourth TD of the game, and the duo wasn’t finished yet. Shortly after a sack on Carden, Soul MLB Beau Bell recovered a fumble on the Brigade’s 10 yard line to close out the third quarter.
The fourth started out with, you guessed it, a 10 yard TD strike from Raudabaugh to McDaniel, the duo’s fifth of the game, to increase the Soul’s lead to 55-28. Another forced turnover by Philly’s defense, an interception of Carden by DB Dwayne “Shutdown” Hollis, led to Benson’s third rushing TD of the game, adding insult to injury and ballooning the lead to 62-28. Not satisfied with one measly interception, Hollis again picked off Carden and this time returned it 40 yards to the house for a pick-six. With the game completely out of hand (69-28), Carden threw a garbage time TD to make the final score 69-34.
With the blow-out win, Philadelphia moved to 3-0 and now heads to Cleveland on May 6th to try to keep their 2017 undefeated season intact. With the loss, Baltimore dropped to 1-2 on the season. Game MVP honors went to McDaniel who finished the contest with eight receptions for 123 yards and five touchdowns.
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[Photos by Josh Campbell Photography]
[Article by David Miller]
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