Soul stay hot with 30-point thrashing of Blaze

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Soul stay hot with 30-point thrashing of Blaze

Even the Utah Blaze, sporting burnt-orange pants that resemble their name, were no match for the red-hot Soul.

The Soul, sparked by five passing touchdowns from quarterback Dan Raudabaugh and a combined seven touchdowns from Andrae Thurman and Derrick Ross, notched their sixth straight victory with a 69-39 route of Utah.

The Soul picked up right where they left off from last Saturday’s blowout win over Chicago. They marched down the field with ease on their first possession, with Thurman eventually crossing the goal line and drawing first blood for the Soul.

“[Thurman] is one of those unsung heroes,” head coach Clint Dolezel said. “He’s a return guy, he’s blocking everybody, he tackles on kickoffs, he’s a great returner, as far as blocking as well. There’s a reason I brought him in here, because I’ve played with him before. He’s one of the guys that is making the nucleus of our team.”

If Thurman was the dynamic, speedy and athletic member of the Soul's offense, Ross was surely the hard-nosed bruiser. Following a Blaze turnover resulting from a dropped pass on fourth down, Ross barreled through Utah defenders for the 14-0 advantage in the first quarter.

Although Utah initially struggled to get anything going offensively, the Blaze picked things up when starting quarterback Jason Boltus was knocked out of the game with an injury. However, as Dolezel would point out, the Soul coach may have felt more comfortable with Boltus in the game rather than backup Tommy Grady. Grady shattered AFL records last year, tossing 142 touchdowns and totaling 5,870 passing yards.

“Grady is a great football player,” Dolezel said. “He broke every record in the world last year, so we knew it wasn’t going to be easy because he’s a good football player. I wasn’t overly thrilled when [Boltus] got hurt. We know what [Grady] can do.”

When Grady and the Blaze responded with their first touchdown of the game -- albeit with a botched extra point -- the Soul wasted no time in getting back on the board. Thurman recorded his second score of the game with an eight-yard touchdown catch delivered from Raudabaugh.

After Utah scored again, it was Ross’ turn to tally his second touchdown of the game, putting the Soul ahead 28-13 late in the first half. Raudabaugh tacked on another touchdown pass in the waning seconds of the second quarter, and the Soul led 35-13 at the break.

The Soul would not let up following intermission. Another four-and-out by the Blaze in the opening possession of the second half led to Raudabaugh’s third touchdown pass of the game, giving the Soul a commanding 42-13 lead.

Thurman and Ross would later tack on their fourth and third touchdowns, respectively, while Raudabaugh threw for his fifth touchdown pass as the Soul once again won in blowout fashion.
    
With their sixth straight win and just two games remaining, the Soul improved to 11-5 and now have a half-game lead over the Jacksonville Sharks atop the American Conference. Their final two regular-season games will come on the road against San Jose on July 20 and San Antonio on July 27. The Soul will then host their first-round playoff game on Saturday, Aug. 3 at 7 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center.

Before they get to that point, however, Dolezel would like to see his team finish out the regular season strong.

“It’s tough going on the coast,” Dolezel said. “It’s always been a struggle to go there. We have to play good football. We have to keep pace with Jacksonville."

Soul hang on to top lowly Tampa Bay Storm, 56-51

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Soul hang on to top lowly Tampa Bay Storm, 56-51

It wasn't pretty, but the Soul got the job done.

Despite a late push from the stumbling Storm (1-12), the Soul were able to pull out a 56-51 in Tampa Bay on Saturday. 

“Tonight was not one of our strongest nights,” Soul head coach Clint Dolezel said.  “We made many mistakes offensively that we will need to fix heading in to our second bye week.  Playoffs are around the corner and our focus needs to shift in order to prepare for a strong postseason run.” 

The win puts the Soul at 12-3 with one game remaining in the regular season. 

Dan Raudabaugh completed 21 of 34 passes for 238 yards and six touchdowns in the win. Reciever Chris Duvalt led the team with six receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown, but was outdone by Daruius Reynolds, who took home Under Armour Offensive Player of the Game honors, scoring three touchdowns, giving him 100 career receiving touchdowns. 

The Soul go into their second bye week with 12 wins on the season, giving them the American Conference lead over the Orlando Predators, who sit at 11-2.

The two heavyweights face off in the season finale on Saturday, July 30 at 7:30 p.m. The Soul took the first matchup between the two, 62-54 on May 21, but the Predators have been hot lately, winning four straight games.

Soul top Gladiators, 83-62, with season-high scoring outburst

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Soul top Gladiators, 83-62, with season-high scoring outburst

Unable to play at the Wells Fargo Center, the Philadelphia Soul felt right at home in the PPL Center on Saturday night.

The Soul easily topped the Cleveland Gladiators, 83-62, with their highest scoring output of the season. Per usual, quaterback Dan Raudabaugh led the way by completing 20-of-21 passes for 335 yards and eight touchdowns, the last of which was the 600th TD pass of his career.

Raudabaugh had plenty of help from his receivers. Sean Kauleinamoku had six receptions for 112 yards and two touchdowns while Darius Reynolds had four catches, 77 yards and three touchdowns. Reynolds also returned an onside kick for a touchdown.

The Soul move to 11-3 and stay within a game of the first-place Orlando Predators in the American Conference. The Gladiators fall to 7-6, good enough for second place in the National Conference. 

The Soul have two games left on the season as they try and take over first place before the postseason. They fly to Tampa bay to face the Storm next Saturday, take a week off, and then face the Predators in Orlando to finish the regular season on July 30. 

Soul use dominant second half to beat Steel

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Soul use dominant second half to beat Steel

The Soul shook off the lowly Portland Steel on Monday night for a 59-38 road win at the Moda Center.

After trailing 31-28 at halftime, the Soul (10-3) took full control in the second half to beat the Steel (1-11) for their third win in the last four games.

“We started off slow and made some mistakes in the first half,” Soul head coach Clint Dolezel said. “Once we came back out for the second half, the team played strong on both sides of the ball. Big plays on defense and turnovers help set our offense up for success and that is what we did tonight.”  

Soul wide receiver Shaun Kauleinamoku had a big game with nine receptions for 125 yards and two touchdowns, while wideout Ryan McDaniel and fullback Jeramie Richardson also added a pair of scores.

Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh threw for 217 yards and five touchdowns.

The Soul are on bye next week before hosting the Cleveland Gladiators at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on July 9 for a 6 p.m. kickoff.