June 16, 2019 PHILADELPHIA — In a round-2 matchup on Father’s Day, the 3-time Arena Football League champion Philadelphia Soul easily defeated the Atlantic City Blackjacks 54-29, their second win over A.C. this season. In week-1, Philly narrowly beat A.C. 48-41.
Soul fullback Adrian Ferns provided an opening drive score to set the tone for the evening, and would rush for another touchdown on their next possession. He would score again later in the 3rd quarter. Rookie receiver BJ Bunn’s TD reception gave the Soul a 20-0 lead early in the 2nd. Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh was on fire, and was later replaced by Danny Southwick to prevent injuries with the score being 41-14 in the 4th quarter. Meanwhile the offense rolled at will.
The Soul’s defense has struggled with consistency lately, but not during this game. They shut down the Blackjacks offense on the ground and breaking up passes all night, and held A.C. to only one TD in the second half. They did receive a bit of help when Blackjacks quarterback Randy Hippeard went down in the 2nd quarter with an apparent leg injury and did not return, giving former University of Maine QB Warren Smith his first action of the season.
The Soul now sit at 4-4, while the Blackjacks fell to 3-5. All in all it was a very entertaining event on Father’s Day for the Philadelphia and ESPN fans!
With four more games and a bye week in between, the Soul remain in control of their own destiny, sitting in the fourth and final playoff spot.
Winning a championship is never easy, and defending that title the following season proves nearly impossible for every team that tries to accomplish the feat. Enter the Philadelphia Soul who won the Arena League title in 2016 and on Saturday, August 26, 2017, hosted the Tampa Bay Storm in ArenaBowl XXX. The opportunity for the Soul to defend their title, and become just the third AFL team to win back-to-back championships, was just one win away, but it wouldn’t come easy.
With 13,648 fans at the Wells Fargo Center, the Soul won the coin-toss and deferred to the second half. Tampa Bay didn’t have the ball for long before James Romain came up with a big interception. The Soul were unable to capitalize and the Storm’s Kendrick Ings returned a missed field goal 57-yards for a touchdown (the longest play in ArenaBowl history) to put Tampa Bay up 6-0. That score would hold throughout the first quarter.
Just over four minutes into the second quarter, the Soul finally got onto the scoreboard when Dan Raudabaugh connected with rookie Darius Prince and Philadelphia took the lead 7-6. The Storm was just beginning to rumble however and on their next drive, WR Joe Hills hauled in a 35-yard TD strike to put Tampa Bay back up 13-7. On the very next drive, Raudabaugh was intercepted by LB Alvin Ray Jackson who turned the ball 26-yards for a pick-6, putting the Storm up 20-7.
Before Saturday night, no team trailing by 13 points had ever come back to win an ArenaBowl title. But if the Soul were aware of that fact, they weren’t letting on. Philly’s Mykel Benson rumbled into the end-zone at the end of the second half to bring the soul back within 6 points, trailing 20-14 at the half. The Soul opened the second half with Raudabaugh connecting with Darius Reynolds on a 40-yard TD to put the Soul up 21-20. However, Tampa Bay stormed back, with Ings’ scoring his second TD of the day, and the Storm retook the lead, 27-21. Going score-for-score, Philadelphia struck back with Benson charging into the end-zone for his second TD. The Soul, now up 28-27 would not relinquish the lead again.
With 9:24 left in ArenaBowl XXX, Prince scored his second touchdown of the night for Philly to give the Soul their biggest lead of the night, 35-27. On the following drive, the Soul’s Sean Daniels notched the seventh safety in ArenaBowl history by sacking Randy Hippeard in the end-zone to expand Philly’s lead to 37-27. The Storm then successfully recovered an onside kick, resulting in a 42-yard TD by Justin Hilton. Now trailing by only 3 points, Tampa Bay again attempted an onside kick but this time the Soul recovered and Shaun Kauleinamoku found the end-zone to push Philadelphia’s lead back to 10.
Tampa Bay never quit but their best effort was not enough and with just under 3 minutes remaining in ArenaBowl XXX, Dwayne Hollis intercepted Hippeard. The Storm eventually got the ball back and Ings scored his third TD of the game as time expired. The Soul successfully defended their title and won ArenaBowl XXX by the final score of 44-40!
With the victory, the Soul became the first team to win the ArenaBowl at home since the Spokane Shock did it in ArenaBowl XXIII. Soul head coach Clint Dolezel became the sixth coach in AFL history to win a second ArenaBowl. In just his second game in the Arena Football League, Prince became the first rookie since Rick Hamilton in ArenaBowl XII to capture MVP with his two TDs to go with three tackles on special teams. Benson’s two rushing TDs earned him Offensive Player of the Game honors. Romain picked up the Defensive Player of the Game award.
“For the second consecutive year, the Soul have brought the AFL Championship home to Philadelphia, and we are pleased to recognize this day and their incredible achievement,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “I declare Wednesday, August 30, 2017, ‘Philadelphia Soul World Champions Day’ in Philadelphia and hope that everybody comes out to City Hall at noon to celebrate the Soul for making our city proud.”
The Philadelphia Soul have pretty much done it all, from celebrity owners to championship seasons, but on Friday night at the Wells-Fargo Center, the team did something it had never done before; they allowed just 21 points to be scored. The Soul’s previous record for points allowed was 24 which came way back in 2006 against Kansas City.
What recipe did Philadelphia use to serve the (East Division leading) Cleveland Gladitors some humble pie?
It started with the crust. The Soul allowed just 7 points in the first half, a tasty franchise record.
The filling consisted of seven sacks (a franchise record dating back to 2005; including three, another team record, by Brandon Perkins) to which the Soul’s defense added two interceptions, and one safety. They topped it with several sweet offensive strikes, and let it bake for one hour.
Soul QB Ryan Vena was also cooking on Friday evening. He threw for just shy of 250 yards and three TD’s. He also led the team in rushing, running for 30 yards and two more TD’s.
The first two passing strikes went to WR Larry Brackins (who finished with 133 yards and 3 TD) and put the Soul up 14-0. Gladiator’s QB Kurt Rocco got his first TD with 3:35 left in the first quarter when he hit WR Troy Bergeron to cut the lead to 14-7. Philadelphia rebounded with two field-goals and a rushing TD and headed into half time with a 27-7 lead.
The second half scoring began just like the first, with a TD strike from Vena to Brackins. After the Soul defense added 2 points with a safety, and Vena and Rocco each added a rushing TD for their team, the score sat at 42-14 heading into the 4th quarter.
Vena’s second rushing TD was the first score in the 4th and put Philadelphia up 49-14. With just under three minutes to play, Rocco again connected with Bergeron for the game’s final points and the Soul walked away with a 49-21 victory to improve to 6-11. The Gladiators still sit in first place with a 9-7 record.
The Soul play their final home game of the year on July 22nd when they host Pittsburgh (who sits in 2nd place in the East at 8-7). The Soul will not be able to defend their AFL title in the playoffs, even with a victory over Pittsburgh, but can still end the season on a high note with back to back victories over the divisions two top teams.
Injured WR Donovan Morgan was honored by team president Ron Jaworski (and others) during the Cleveland game for his 100th career touchdown.
Ryan Vena was back in the starting role at QB for the Philadelphia Soul on Saturday night when they hosted the Arizona Rattlers at the Wells-Fargo Center.
The Soul needed to win out the rest of the season to have a shot at making the playoffs and defending their AFL title.
Vena certainly did his part in the effort as he tossed two TD’s and ran for four more while throwing zero interceptions. Donovan Morgan led the WR’s, hauling in five passes for 98 yards and a TD. Keith Stokes caught six passes for 64 yards, and Syvelle Newton added five catches for 47 yards.
The Soul led the Rattlers, who have the league’s second best record, for the majority of the game. However, the only score that truly matters is the final score, and when the proverbial dust settled, the Rattlers found themselves on top by a single point, 55-54 after the Soul missed a 44 yard FG attempt in the final seconds.
The Rattlers were led by QB Nick Davila who tossed seven TD’s on the day (with just two interceptions). Rod Windsor (eleven receptions for 131 yards and 3 TD’s), Jason Geathers (six catches for 55 yards and three TD’s), and Kerry Reed (eight catches for 92 yards) were masterful at the WR position for Arizona.
Brandon Kirsch got his first Arena Football League start at QB in over three years (his first as a member of the Soul) but couldn’t make the most of it on Friday night, as Philadelphia took on the Tulsa Talons at the Wells-Fargo Center.
With QB Ryan Vena on the bench, and leading WR Donovan Morgan out with a leg injury, Kirsch tossed the game’s first TD to put Philly up 7-0 but by half time he had thrown more interceptions (3) than TD’s (2) and the Soul trailed Tulsa (and former Philadelphia QB Justin Allgood) 27-14. Soul head coach Mike Hohensee replaced Kirsch with Vena to begin the second half.
Vena was good, tossing four TD’s (no INT) in relief, but Allgood was even better than his name suggests; he was stellar. He threw for 283 yards on the day and tossed six TD’s with no interceptions (earning him game MVP honors).
In Morgan’s absence, Syvelle Newton kicked his game up a notch contributing eleven receptions for 160 yards and four TD’s. Mike Brown, playing WR, also added six catches for 108 yards and two TD’s.
The loss at the Wells-Fargo center breaks a three game home winning streak for the Soul who now sit at third place in the division at 5-9. With only four games remaining, the Soul will most likely have to win out (and get some help) to make the playoffs and defend their Arena League title.
Their next game is Saturday night (June 25th) when they host the Arizona Rattlers. They then play Dallas on the road before returning home for their final two games against Cleveland and Pittsburgh. We are giving away a four pack of great lower-level seats to each of the final three home games so be sure to ENTER HERE.