The Philadelphia Soul came into Baltimore to avenge the sweep by the Brigade last season and made it known early that it would be a battle to come out this matchup with a win. However, the Brigade defense matched the intensity of the Soul causing everyone watching to believe a defensive struggle was going to be the story of Friday’s game. This game was anticipated to have high scoring with Vegas placing the over/under on points at 101.5, but at the end of the first quarter the teams were tied 6-6 after each kicker’s PAT attempt was blocked.
The blocked PATs were the beginning of a long night for each kicker. The star from last week’s game, Brigade kicker Brandon Brown from Fort Hayes State, had 2 PATs blocked one being a big moment in the game when the Brigade needed a PAT to get within 1 score to have a chance to tie the game pending a defensive stand. The defense held and got Brigade QB Shane Boyd & WR Milton Williams the ball back but it was 36-27 and a TD plus a 2-point conversion would not have been good enough to tie the game.
The deciding moment in the game happened at start of the second quarter. The Brigade had the ball at the PHI 4-yard line with 4 attempts to punch it in to take a TD lead over the Soul. Coach Smith & Boyd have consistently talked post-game about execution and the lack thereof at times in crucial moments. The Brigade went with four straight pass plays. First, throw to Joe Hills-incomplete, then throw to Milton Williams-incomplete, then pressure and tight coverage by the Soul caused a rush for no gain by Shane Boyd. On 4th & 4 yards to go, Shane dropped back and waited for a long developing shallow cross route by Brandon Collins to come open. At the last second, Shane delivered a heat seeking missile that almost took Brandon Collins head off, instead of a touch pass to create separation. It was one of the only missed chances by Shane as otherwise he had a really solid game. While there were some big plays by the Brigade later in the game, after that defensive stand to prevent the Brigade from taking the lead early in the second, the momentum seemed to stay with the Soul.
Those big plays by the Brigade were made by DBs Josh Victorian & Joe Powell & WR Milton Williams. Victorian was team leader in tackles with 8 and added an INT. Powell had 1 forced fumble and 2 pass breakups to continue his hot start to the season. Milton Williams was UNSTOPPABLE against the Soul. He had 5 catches for 117 yards and 2 TDs both of which were 40+ yards. After the game he told me he there was a little something extra in the tank going against his fellow Delaware State Hornet & 2018 AFL Defensive Back of the Year James Romain. Milton said they never matched up in practice at Delaware State because of the 6 almost 7 year age difference, but acknowledged it felt good to play so well after Romain’s big game in Week 1.
The 1-1 Brigade finish up the 3 game home stand at Royal Farms Arena against the 0-2 Columbu Destroyers hoping to be locked in with execution before hitting the road to face the Atlantic City Blackjacks in the historic Boardwalk Hall that had a reported 6,000 plus in attendance last week.