PHILADELPHIA, PA – It was going to take a complete team effort to get the Philadelphia Soul out of their three-game losing streak. Saturday night against the Columbus Destroyers, that’s exactly what they got.
Rookie Wide Receiver BJ Bunn finally found the end zone for the first time this season, and then added another touchdown for good measure. Darius Prince also snagged two touchdown catches as Lonnie Outlaw and Keith Newell recorded a touchdown each in a 47-35 win.
The Soul had been waiting on Bunn to break out, and as Soul head coach Clint Dolezel said in his postgame presser, the team knew it was just a matter of time.
“We’ve been waiting on that from BJ,” Dolezel said. “He just hasn’t really had much opportunity with the receivers we have in front of him. He’s a young guy, and we know his yards after catch are as good as they come in the league and no one’s really got a chance to see it but tonight they did. So we’re expecting great things from BJ.”
Praise for Bunn’s performance also came from veteran Soul Quarterback Dan Raudabaugh, who said it was good to have him take part in the offense.
“Anytime you can get the young kids involved in this [is good],” Raudabaugh said. “It kind of feels like there’s a generational gap in this game where there’s guys kind of my age in their 30s and now there’s just a few rookies starting to come in, and there’s a little gap in there.
“We’re looking for some guys to step up and play and [BJ] Bunn, he’s a playmaker. We’ve been waiting for him to come into his own a little bit…we had a couple bangs and bruises to some of our normal guys, but he didn’t miss a beat, did he? He came out there on the first play and we weren’t on the same page but after that, we got it rolling.”
For Bunn, stepping into the offense in the absence of some key players in the wide receiving corps was something he was prepared to do.
Aaron [Wascha] is a big contributor to the Soul,” Bunn said. “The way it goes, you know, is next man up. All week, I just took on that role and when the game time came, [I] just stepped up.”
When it came time to prepare for his role in the game, Bunn said that he had trained well in practice and was ready.
“Every day we’re preparing,” Bunn added. “Every player prepares to play in the game. One man goes down, next man up, so it’s kind of routine…we learn all the positions, so [it’s] just next guy up.”
Another key facet of the team’s win was the defensive side of the ball. On the sixth play of regulation, Soul Defensive Back James Romain picked off a Grant Russell pass and ran it back 26 yards to the house for the opening points.
From there, the Soul defense played lights out for most of the game, holding the Destroyers to just 14 points through three quarters. Columbus did score 21 points in the fourth quarter, but most of those came after the game had been decided.
A key facet of the Soul defensive game was their takeaways. Romain’s interception capped a big night for the Soul in the turnover battle. Torez Jones produced a second interception, picking off a Grant Russell pass that resulted in a touchdown on the next Soul drive.
Jones also forced a fumble in the second half that was scooped up by Darius Reynolds and turned into a touchdown on the ensuing drive. Over all, the Soul produced 19 points off turnovers, which helped to ensure they would leave with a win.
Speaking with reporters after the game, Jones recapped the third turnover from his point of view.
“We were in a combo, and it actually wasn’t my guy,” “But being veterans in the back and us playing together for so long, I knew that [if I] broke on the guy, then Ro [James Romain] would cover me up and he would take my man.”
Jones also said that in his perspective, the team was starting to come together, even after coming off a three-game skid.
“It always feels good to get a win, cause it could have easily went [sic] another way,” Jones added. “I think we were maybe two or three big plays from it really getting ugly. We’re coming along. Chemistry is coming along.”
With the win, the team improved to 3-3. Next week, the Soul will face the Washington Valor in the second game of a three-game homestand. Kickoff time is 4:00 p.m.
Soul Snippets: Dan Raudabaugh was 15 for 26 for 260 yards in the game, with six touchdowns and zero interceptions…Grant Russell was 19 for 32 with three touchdowns and two interceptions for Columbus…Soul kicker Kenny Spencer was five for seven in PATs, but made all his second-half kicks…The Soul were two of five on third down conversions and two for two on fourth down conversions…Columbus led in time of possession, holding on to the ball for 34:04 of game time, compared to 25:56 for the Soul.