Missing kicker, Soul fall on last-second FG

Missing kicker, Soul fall on last-second FG
June 14, 2014, 11:30 pm

Dan Raudabaugh threw for 267 yards (27 for 42), six touchdowns and two picks in a losing effort. (USA Today Images)

In a game in which they were without the services of a kicker, it was the leg of their opponent's that ultimately did the Soul in.

With the Soul clinging to a two-point lead with one second to go, Pittsburgh Power kicker Julian Rauch converted a 23-yard field goal as time expired to hand the Soul a crushing defeat, 57-56, on Saturday.

The Soul (6-7) were forced to use defensive end Bryan Robinson and wide receiver Emery Sammons in kickoff duty after kicker Carlos Martinez had to exit with a hamstring injury following the opening kickoff.

Robinson could muster only a 13-yard kickoff with the Soul barely holding on by two points with 35 seconds remaining. It gave the Power (10-3) great field position to set up the winning kick.

“It looks like you’re playing a Pop Warner game out there when you don’t have a kicker,” Soul coach Clint Dolezel said. “We had linemen toe-punching the ball out there.

“They’re a good football team, bottom line. We outplayed them in most aspects of the game except mentally. We didn’t play well at times.”

The loss was the Soul's first this season at home.

For a time before the final minute, it looked like the Soul had lost the game anyway. Down 54-48 with less than four minutes to play, quarterback Dan Raudabaugh threw an interception right into the hands of defensive back Brandon Freeman that put pressure on the Soul defense to make a quick stop.

Despite being torched by quarterback Tommy Grady and the Power offense for much of the game, the Soul’s defensive unit forced four straight incompletions to give Raudabaugh another chance with less than 90 seconds left.

Raudabaugh responded by throwing a three-yard touchdown to V’Keon Lacy and running for the two-point conversion to give the Soul a 56-54 lead. Without Martinez, the Soul went for two after every score and converted 4 of 8 attempts on the night.

“That was a pretty bad interception,” Raudabaugh said. “I was pretty down there but you have to have a short memory in this game.

“With 35 seconds left, that’s a lot of time in Arena Football. Without a kicker, it’s tough. … If a team gives us 35 seconds, we’re going to get it done too.”

Along with missing a kicker, the Soul were hindered by one particularly controversial call at the beginning of the second half.

After coming out of halftime with a 28-27 lead, the Soul’s opening drive of the third quarter ended when Power defensive back Al Phillips was awarded an interception that clearly hit the ground first.

Having used both his challenges in the first half, Dolezel was unable to do anything except complain about the call. The Power quickly scored on a 12-yard reception by Prechae Rodriguez before scoring on a fumble recovery on the next kickoff to give them a quick 40-28 lead.

“There were a lot of plays in that game that changed [the outcome], and that’s one of them for sure,” Dolezel said. “They didn’t overturn one challenged [call], so we were out of [challenges]. It didn’t really change the momentum. … With the injuries we had, some guys stepped up and played well.”

In addition to Martinez, the Soul played most of the game without defensive lineman Tyron Hust and top receiver Ryan McDaniel, both of whom left the game with injuries in the first half.

Sammons stepped up big in McDaniel’s absence, tying the franchise record for receptions in a game with 14 to go along with 144 yards and three touchdowns.

Raudabaugh finished 27 for 42 for 267 yards, six touchdowns and two picks. Fullback Derrick Ross ran for 36 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries.

The defense had no answer for the Grady-to-Rodriguez connection. Grady went 21 for 34 for 197 yards and seven scores with one interception. Rodriguez finished with 13 catches for 144 yards and five touchdowns.

With five games remaining, the Soul aim to get back to .500 next week against the East Division-leading Cleveland Gladiators at the Wells Fargo Center.

“We have to win out,” Dolezel said. “Every game is a playoff game from now on.”

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