Philadelphia — In a key matchup between two bitter division rivals, the Philadelphia Soul continued their scorching offensive start to remain undefeated this season, defeating the Cleveland Gladiators 63-48 on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
“In the second half, we played the way I was looking for,” head coach Clint Dolezel said about tonight’s performance. “It kind of worked out in the first half… we were kind of scrapping around and hanging in there.”
Philadelphia’s red-hot offense continued with another sensational effort tonight. Led by quarterback Dan Raudabaugh who threw for 262 yards and 7 touchdowns, earning another Russell Offensive Player of the Game, scored on all nine of their possessions tonight.
“That’s the goal in this game. As an offense, all we ask for our defense is to get us one stop,” Raudabaugh said.
Marco Thomas, known for having the best hands in Arena Football, hauled in a deep one-handed touchdown catch — one that you should certainly see on Sportscenter’s top ten — on the Soul’s opening possession of the second half, staking Philadelphia to a comfortable second half lead. Thomas finished the game with nine catches for 108 yards and three touchdowns.
“I just come out here and do my job,” Thomas said of his performance. “I just want to be a good teammate… whatever I can do to help the team come out with a victory.”
Cleveland managed to trim their 22-point deficit down to eight midway through the third quarter after Gladiators quarterback Shane Austin connected with wide receiver Collin Taylor for two consecutive touchdowns but failed to get any closer. Taylor finished the game with 10 catches for 120 yards and four touchdowns, including an impressive touchdown grab in double coverage.
Soul receiver Ryan McDaniel — who has been Raudabaugh’s go-to-guy this season — quietly had himself a good game, overshadowed by the play of his teammate Thomas. In addition to his 7 catches for 73 yards and three touchdowns, McDaniel made some huge catches to extend drives and even ran the ball for a touchdown.
Philadelphia a year ago was swept in the season series by the Gladiators, including being eliminated on a late field goal in the first round of the playoffs. Although many believed that this was certainly a revenge game for the Soul, coach Dolezel doesn’t think so.
“Over half these guys weren’t here last year, so were not focused on that [revenge],” he said. “like [Taggart] said, it’s not about them, its about us.”
Philadelphia remains perfect (4-0) in the early stages of the 2015 season and have look very impressive doing it. After a perfect 2-0 home stand, the Soul will hit the road next week to take on a struggling New Orleans Voodoo (1-3).