Philadelphia Soul escape close game with the SaberCats

PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Soul used a second-half surge to overcome the San Jose SaberCats.

The Soul were down, then were able to use the momentum after an interception to take the lead. They never looked back after that point, even when the SaberCats were able to get within 6 points late in the game.

The Soul were able to beat the SaberCats, 61-55, at the Wells Fargo Center last night. The all-time series is now tied at 3 games apiece.

“That was a great team over there,” said Soul head coach Doug Plank. “They looked completely different than we saw on film. On defense, they played a very soft zone. When they showed up (last night), they were jamming our wide receivers at the time of scrimmage.

“Without seeing it myself, I wouldn’t believe a team could jam our receivers like that. I give them all the credit in the world, and I know Darren Arbet really well from coaching against them for three years. This means a lot to me, because I know how good this team was.”

With less than 10 seconds left, the SaberCats recovered an on-sides kick. After the on-sides kick, SaberCats quarterback Mark Grieb went back for a pass with his pocket closing in.

Grieb threw the ball and it was first called an incomplete pass. However, Plank threw the replay flag and officials went to look at the play.

After reviewing the play, the officials reversed the call. The referees said the ball was coming out of Grieb’s hand slightly before his hand went forward, causing a fumble with 1 second left in the game.

The Soul then ran out the clock from there for the win.

“Just looking at that play, to me, the ball was coming out of his hand long before he brought his hand forward,” said Plank. “I’m not the end-all officiating guru – there’s the Brady rule, the Tuck rule; I don’t want to get into all those – it just looked like the ball was in his hand and we knocked it out of his hand. It appeared to be a fumble. I felt like if there was a play to challenge, it was going to be that one.”

Within the past 50 seconds, the SaberCats scores 14 points to get within 6 points. Trailing 61-41, Grieb connected with Samora Goodson for two touchdowns – one for 34-yards and the other for 37-yards – to make the score 61-55.

“San Jose is a very disciplined team, ” Dan Raudabaugh, Soul quarterback, said. “They have a great quarterback in Mark Grieb and a great coach in Darren Arbet. They fought until the end. I give them credit, but I give my defense more credit for making a great play at the end.”

With 1 minute and 12 seconds left in the fourth, Raudabaugh hit Anthony “Tiger” Jones for a 21-yard touchdown. The score gave the Soul a 20-point lead at 61-41.

Grieb hit his favorite target, James Roe, for a 12-yard touchdown with 2:31 left in the game. The SaberCats trailed 54-41 at that point.

Before that touchdown, Grieb was struggling. He threw three straight interceptions on three consecutive SaberCats drives.

Soul corner back Kent Richardson picked off Grieb all three times. After the first interception, the Soul received the momentum.

“It’s one thing to be in the spot to make a play, but it’s another thing to actually make the play – the tackle, the block, whatever,” said Plank. “He did it (last night), as he was not only in the right spot, but he made the catch. Those three interceptions were the difference in the game. They were no question the difference in the game.

“Kent has been consistent and productive throughout the year. He has made a lot of big plays, plus he’s strong and physical. We needed those three (last night).”

After two of the Richardson interceptions, Raudabaugh hit Jones for 3-yard touchdown, before connected on a 6-yard one. He also connected with Emery Sammons for a 12-yard touchdown after Richardson’s second interception.

Soul fullback Derrick Ross was able to run through the SaberCats defense. He had 23 yards, including two 3-yard rushing touchdowns.

Ross’ first rushing touchdown in the second quarter was set up after Soul defensive lineman Dustin Barno recovered a SaberCats fumble. Ross also caught a 39-yard touchdown pass from Raudabaugh to end the first half.

“It was the difference in us winning the game, or losing the game,” said Plank. “If we don’t make that play at the end of the first half with Derrick Ross, we don’t win this game. We don’t win it, because we would have went into the locker room feeling bad and sorry for ourselves. We were close to being behind in the game, and that (touchdown) put us in the position that anything goes in the second half. This game is psychological, so if you think you’re out of the game, you’re out of the game.”

Grieb opened the scoring in the third quarter with a touchdown pass to Huey Whittaker. Whittaker caught a 16-yard touchdown pass, before Nick Pertuit missed the extra point.

That was Grieb’s first touchdown pass since connecting with Roe for the first touchdown of the game, a few minutes into the first quarter. Roe caught a 7-yard touchdown from Grieb on that play.

The SaberCats had two rushing touchdowns. Fullback Tommy Taggart Jr. and Offensive Lineman Mark Lewis scored on 1-yard touchdowns. Corner back Ruschard Dodd-Masters also returned a 57-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Raudabaugh connected with Jones for an 8-yard touchdown after the SaberCats scored their first touchdown of the game. With 37 seconds left in the second quarter, Raudabaugh connected with Sammons on a 2-yard touchdown.

“Every team needs a bigger receiver,” said Plank of Sammons. “Mainly because if you have short and fast receivers, you are going to get down the field. But there are certain situations, where he plowed through the defensive backs – either blocking them on screens, or pushing them out of the way to catch the football.

“Emery was a big factor, as he was engaged with the defensive backs and made some key catches. We needed every one of those catches.”

Next week, the Soul take on the Tampa Bay Storm on Friday, April 20th at 8 pm. The game will be televised live on the NFL Network.

“We’re going to have a good week of practice and we’re going to stay focused and driven,” said Raudabaugh. “We’re going to try to put it on Tampa Bay. They have done some good things last week by beating Cleveland. We’re going to learn from our mistakes in that game (loss to Cleveland) and get better from it.”

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