PHILADELPHIA – In their last home game of the regular season, the Soul looked to take a step towards securing a more favorable playoff seed. A returning quarterback, Dan Raudabaugh, would look to be a part of that effort.
Raudabaugh last played on May 19 in a losing effort against the Albany Empire. During the contest against the Empire, he appeared to reaggravate an injury sustained two weeks prior in a game against the Baltimore Brigade. He came out of the Albany game and had not played since.
The early going would prove to be a harbinger of things to come. At the end of the first quarter, both teams were tied at seven.
That would prove to be the storyline of the game, as the Soul and Brigade traded touchdowns throughout the entire contest. No team held a lead of more than seven points at any moment in the game. However, the final Brigade drive was capped off by an unsuccessful attempt at a two-point conversion. That turned out to be the deciding margin in the contest, which the Soul held on to win 49-48.
After the game, Soul Head Coach Clint Dolezel said that he feels the team is rounding into form at the right time in the season.
“After the win in Albany, I thought we were going to turn the switch on and we did,” Dolezel said. “And we’re getting a little bit healthy. We’re going to get a player or two back here as we go into the playoffs and that’s important. We may be getting healthy at the right time as other teams are starting to take some licks.”
One of those returning players was Raudabaugh, and Dolezel said that it was a comfort to have him in the offense again.
“He’s a comfort zone for me obviously,” Dolezel said. “We’ve been together for eight years now, so he does a great job for us. He got the cold sweats off real quick.”
In his return, Raudabaugh was backed up by strong performances from Wide Receivers Aaron Wascha and Darius Reynolds. Wascha caught three touchdowns, including the one that turned out to be the game-winner, and Reynolds had four touchdowns, adding to his already sizeable career total.
Explaining his game-winning catch, Wascha said that he had to think on the fly during the play, but was able to use his size and speed to his advantage.
“I converted the route,” Wascha said. “That wasn’t the original route, but he [the defender] was pressing me down on the line, so I just went strong through him, picked an angle and went with it. Dan threw a great ball and I went up and got it.”
Offering his own assessment of the game, Raudabaugh said he saw a lot of positives to build on.
“I thought we looked pretty good,” Raudabaugh said. “[There were] a couple plays where we couldn’t get out of our own way, some penalties we needed to clean up, and the bad pass in the red zone on first down, I’m smarter than that.”
Added Raudabaugh, “But I’m proud of the effort and that’s what it’s about. And we played a good team that’s well coached with veteran players. It’s going to come down to who has the ball last and the defense made the biggest stop the last two drives of the game. So credit to them, we play together.”
In the late down situations, Baltimore was one for five on third down conversions and 3 for four on fourth down conversions…The Soul was one for one on third downs and did not have a fourth down situation…Soul Kicker Adrian Trevino made all seven of his extra point attempts…Baltimore outgained Philadelphia in total offensive yards by a 272 to 257 count, but Philadelphia was the more disciplined team, taking six penalties for 31 yards, while Baltimore had eight penalties for 60 yards…Baltimore missed a field goal at the end of the first half that would have put them in the lead. The play was reviewed, and the call stood.