Philadelphia Soul

Soul stay hot with 30-point thrashing of Blaze


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 beat Brigade to advance to ArenaBowl XXX

Soul beat Brigade to advance to ArenaBowl XXX

The Soul are headed back to the ArenaBowl.

On Saturday night, the Soul beat the Baltimore Brigade, 69-54, at the Wells Fargo Center to advance to ArenaBowl XXX, which will be hosted in Philadelphia on Aug. 26.

It will be the Soul's second straight ArenaBowl. The Soul beat the Arizona Rattlers, who are now a part of the Indoor Football League, 56-42, in ArenaBowl XXIX last season.

The Soul have two ArenaBowl titles in franchise history. Their other championship came in 2008. It'll be their fourth ArenaBowl appearance since 2012 and fifth since 2008.

In 2009, the AFL suspended operations and in 2010, the Soul did not play when the league resumed. They came back to life in 2011, which means this will be their fifth ArenaBowl appearance in their eight seasons of operation.

Since 2012, the Soul have made the playoffs each season and the ArenaBowl now in four of the six campaigns. The Phillies have lost 520 games since 2012, while the Eagles, Sixers and Flyers have combined for just five playoff appearances — three for the Flyers and one for the Sixers and Eagles.

“I’m proud of all this team has accomplished this season,” Soul head coach Clint Dolezel said. “We have worked very hard to get to this point and I’m excited to defend the title once again.”

Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh and wide receiver Darius Reynolds led the charge Saturday, helping Philly to its 17th straight home win. Raudabaugh threw for 324 yards and nine touchdowns, completing 23 of his 35 passes. Reynolds reeled in six touchdowns.

Reynolds had 171 yards on nine catches. Shaun Kauleinamoku and Darius Prince also added TD grabs for the Soul.

The Soul will host either Cleveland or Tampa Bay on Aug. 26 in ArenaBowl XXX at the Wells Fargo Center. The Gladiators and Storm play on Monday night.

Soul end regular season with win over Storm, set to face Brigade in playoffs

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Soul end regular season with win over Storm, set to face Brigade in playoffs

Bring on the Brigade.

The Soul on Saturday night ended their regular season with a 41-28 win over the Tampa Bay Storm at the Wells Fargo Center. The Soul finished the regular season 13-1. Their only loss came to Baltimore on July 8.

Tampa Bay finishes the season 10-4.

"I'm happy we ended the regular season with a win," Soul head coach Clint Dolezel said. "We thank our fans for all of the support this season and look forward to the playoffs next weekend."

Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh threw for 145 yards and one touchdown and completed 12 of his 15 passes. Backup QB Luke Collis also threw for 145 yards and two scores, completing six of his 11 pass attempts.

Beginning next Saturday, the Soul's road to repeating as Arena Football League champions officially begins with the Brigade coming to South Philly.

Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. The Soul have home field advantage throughout the playoffs, and if they make it back to the ArenaBowl, they'll host the championship game at the Wells Fargo Center.