Photo courtesy of Alex McIntyre/Underground Sports Philadelphia
PHILADELPHIA, PA – In a battle of undefeated teams, the relentless offense of the Albany Empire overwhelmed the Philadelphia Soul. Tommy Grady and the Empire won in a high-scoring battle, 57-48.
Grady operated with prime efficiency, spreading seven touchdowns to four different receivers. Malachi Jones, Demetres Stephens and Quentin Sims each had two, while Colin Taylor had one.
On the defensive side, Arkieth Brown picked up an onside kick on defense for Albany and rumbled in for the score. As Empire head coach Rob Keefe noted, his team rarely got into late-down trouble, encountering third down only once, and converting on that attempt.
In his postgame remarks to the media, Soul Head Coach Clint Dolezel said that Grady was able to sit back and pick Philadelphia apart in the pocket.
“Good coverage is beat by good throwing [and] we were beat by a lot of good throws tonight,” Dolezel said. “Offensively, [Grady] was on tonight. We couldn’t really get off the field like we wanted to. We only got stopped once basically…but we were outworked too hard.”
The key turning point in the game were two onside kicks, both recovered by Albany. The first gave the empire a cushion they would not relinquish, and the second took the air out of a Soul team looking to make a run late in the fourth quarter.
Dolezel also said in the post-game media session that the two onside kicks the team attempted were part of the Soul game plan, but the blocks on the play did not materialize as the team drew them up.
On the offensive side of the ball for the Soul, Lonnie Outlaw stepped up in the absence of Darius Reynolds. Reynolds will be out for two more weeks, according to Dolezel. In his place, Outlaw had three touchdown receptions, the longest of which went for 39 yards.
Speaking to his comfort level with Outlaw in the lineup, Soul Quarterback Dan Raudabaugh said that there are always good looks with the cagey veteran active.
“When a guy is six foot eight out there, he gives you a good target,” Raudabaugh said. “Lonnie’s been with us for years, and his role has been different almost every year he comes in here. He earned some playing time in the field and he’s really responded well for us.”
Raudabaugh also noted that the team has been working in practice to change up its looks, and work new motions and screens into the game plan.
Next week, the Soul will travel to Capital One Arena in Washington D.C. to face the defending ArenaBowl Champion Washington Valor. In their week three game against Atlantic City, the Valor picked up their first win of the season.
Soul Snippets: Dan Raudabaugh was 21-of-34 in the passing game, with 309 yards, six touchdowns and one interception…Tommy Grady was 14-of-17 passing, with 256 yards, seven touchdowns and zero interceptions…Adrian Ferns led all Soul players in rush with six carries for 11 yards and one touchdown…At the 1/4 mark of the season, Philadelphia sits in second place, tied with Baltimore at 2-1.