SOUTH PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Soul (13-2) is now one step closer to bringing the Arena Bowl championship back to the city of Philadelphia following its 72-56 victory over East Division rival Cleveland (7-8) on Saturday afternoon.
Having already captured a playoff victory and the East Division title a few weeks ago, the victory secured home-field advantage and the No. 1 seed in the American Conference for head coach Clint Dolezel’s Soul squad.
“It’s nice, there’s no question.” Dolezel said of the home-field clinching. “We’re still pushing for the ArenaBowl here, so it’s a one game at a time deal.”
Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh improved upon his MVP-type season with 20-of-27 passing for 306 yards, 7 touchdowns and just one pick. Four of those seven touchdown tosses went to rookie wide receiver Harvey Binford (7 catches, 145 yards, 4 TDs), who had the best game of his short AFL career. Binford was filling in for Shaun Kauleinamoku, who was placed on the list of inactives for the game.
Philadelphia’s defense came up big for Dolezel and Raudabaugh, as well, limiting Cleveland quarterback Shane Austin to just 19-of-39 through the air. Austin struggled against the front line of Philly, despite his six touchdowns and 228 passing yards. Defensive lineman Teddy Jennings began the game with a strip-sack of Austin, and defensive back James Romain returned a blocked extra point for two points late in the first half.
Philly went into the half with a 37-20 lead, and never looked back.
Five second half touchdowns allowed Philadelphia to eventually pull away with the 16-point victory, despite a slow end to the game as Cleveland scored 22 fourth quarter points, including 15 unanswered.
The two division foes will face off for the third time this season to finish off the 2015 regular season in Cleveland, as Philadelphia looks to complete the three-game series sweep.
Offensive Player of the Game: Dan Raudabaugh, QB
Defensive Player of the Game: James Romain, DB
Playmaker of the Game: Harvey Binford, WR