PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Soul (6-1) met its toughest challenge of the season on Saturday night when it played host to the one-loss Arizona Rattlers at the Wells Fargo Center.
Heading into the match-up, Philadelphia was winless (0-6) all-time against Arizona, but head coach Clint Dolezel’s squad, led by quarterback Dan Raudabaugh, came to play on Saturday and had a great game offensively from start to finish. In the end, Raudabaugh’s 223 yards and six touchdowns on 14-of-21 passing were enough to pull away with the 65-58 victory.
“It’s obviously nice,” head coach Clint Dolezel said of getting the franchise’s first win over the Rattlers in team history. “It’s a good football team, great organization, well-coached, great talent. So you’ll take that win any time you can get it.”
Philadelphia got off to a quick start, pulling ahead 14-0 early and holding a 21-7 lead after the opening quarter of play. Big plays offensively, and a few key forced turnovers defensively, allowed the Soul to go into the half with a 31-21 lead thanks to three Raudabaugh passing touchdowns and a Kaleinamoku rushing touchdown.
In the second half of play, Arizona made it a game by putting together back-to-back 40+ yard touchdown drives. The Rattlers played catch-up for most of the second half, and a fumble on a kick-off deep inside Philadelphia territory on its third drive of the third quarter proved lethal. Philadelphia capitalized three plays later by extending its lead to 51-35.
Arizona pulled within a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, with a Nick Davila touchdown pass to Rod Windsor from 13 yards out. A two-point conversion made it a 58-51 game, but the Soul came right back with a 48-yard touchdown from Raudabaugh to Darius “Money” Reynolds on the ensuing drive. An 8-play, 28-yard drive that ate up 4:44 of the game clock wasn’t enough for the Rattlers to successfully mount a comeback.
Arizona quarterback Nick Davila accomplished a few historic feats in the game (30,000 career passing yards, 700th career touchdown pass). Davila tossed for 316 yards and eight touchdowns on 26-of-42 passing, becoming the eighth QB in AFL history with 30,000 career passing yards and the seventh QB in history to reach the 700-TD plateau. But on Saturday, the Latin Laser was ultimately out-dueled by Raudabaugh, the league’s reigning MVP.
“I’m happy with how we prepared all week, even with the short week I thought we really got after it in practice,” quarterback Dan Raudabaugh said in post-game. “We really came together and played for 60 minutes, and that’s what it’s about.”
Philadelphia will prepare to, once again, face its toughest challenge of the season next Saturday night as they play host to the undefeated Orlando Predators (7-0). The Rattlers (5-2) will head back home to play host to the LA KISS (3-3) next Saturday night.