What would have been a thrilling upset at Quicken Loans Arena turned into a heartbreaking and season-ending defeat on Saturday night for the Soul.
The fourth-seeded Soul nearly knocked off the top-seeded Cleveland Gladiators in the first round of the AFL playoffs, but a last-second field goal quelled the upset bid, resulting in a 39-37 loss and exit from the postseason for Clint Dolezel's club.
"We put up a good fight and had our opportunities," Dolezel said, "but we didn’t cash them in."
The Gladiators took a 36-29 lead late in the fourth quarter, but Dan Raudabaugh found Emery Sammons on a short pass that went for a 47-yard touchdown before the visiting Soul converted their two-point attempt to grab a 37-36 lead with 25 seconds left.
However, Cleveland quickly ran five plays to set up a 36-yard game-winning field goal by Aaron Pettrey as time expired.
Raudabaugh completed 20 of 42 passes for 246 yards and five touchdowns to just one interception. Rayshaun Kizer shined on defense, notching an AFL-record four interceptions, but it wasn't enough to spoil the Gladiators' historical season.
In clinching the No. 1 seed in the American Conference, Cleveland went 17-1 to set the AFL regular-season wins record.
After two straight ArenaBowl appearances -- both losses -- the Soul went 9-9 this regular season to squeak into the playoffs.
"This is a game that we hope we remember and motivates us for next year," Dolezel said.