By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
PHILADELPHIA, PA. – The Philadelphia Soul wanted to get off a good start to the season with a home win.
However, that was not the case, as mistakes by the Soul hurt their chances of winning the game. The Soul raised their 2012 American Conference championship banner and had a good first half, where they had a big led, before things started to go the Cleveland Gladiators way in the second half and overtime.
In front of 12,975 fans, the Soul lost to the Gladiators, 64-57, last night at the Wells Fargo Center. Last year, these two teams split with each team winning on the road.
“We didn’t show up on any side of the ball, honestly,” said Soul head coach Clint Dolezel. “Special teams played well, but they had opportunities to make plays too and didn’t. We had a chance to get the on-sides kick and we didn’t get it. That could put have put the game away.”
With the win, the Gladiators picked up their first win of the season to improve to 1-3. The Soul, on the other hand, dropped to 2-2.
The Soul have not won a home opener since the 2008 season. In that home opener, the Soul defeated the Orlando Predators by the score of 77-56.
They lost last year’s home opener to these Gladiators by 6 points. Then, In 2011, they lost their home opener to the Tampa Bay Storm by 3 points.
In overtime, the Gladiators were the only team able to score, as the Soul could not score. Gladiators quarterback Brian Zbydniewski threw a go-ahead touchdown pass to Thyron Lewis for a 16-yard touchdown. The score put Cleveland up 64-57.
“I don’t think we’ve been in rhythm yet,” said Raudabaugh. “I think it starts with me. I’m not making good enough reads, good enough throws, and so I’m going to take responsibility for how the offense has been struggling right now.”
Gladiators kicker Rob Gornall kicked a 45-yard field goal to tie the game at 57-57, as time expired. The kick also sent the game into overtime, which was the Soul’s first home overtime game since April 9, 2006 against the Chicago Rush, a 55-54 win.
It was also the Soul’s first overtime game since the 2011 season. In that season, the Soul and the Pittsburgh Power opened the season with an overtime game, in which the Soul won 58-52.
Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh hit Anthony “Tiger” Jones for a touchdown with 10 seconds left. The touchdown pass for 13-yards put the Soul up 57-54.
After the Soul’s go-ahead touchdown, Zbydniewski threw a quick touchdown pass to Lewis for an 18-yard touchdown. This made the score 54-50 with 47 seconds left.
Raudabaugh hit Andrae Thurman for a 4-yard touchdown. The two also connected on the two-point conversion to make it 50-47
The Soul would fumble the kick off return after Zbydniewski’s touchdown. The Gladiators would recover the ball, then Zbydniewski threw a quick strike to Jonathan Wilson for a 30-yard touchdown.
The Gladiators would then go for two to make it 49-42. However, Zbydniewski’s pass was intercepted, resulting in the failed two point conversion.
Following the Soul’s touchdown, the Gladiators strike back quickly. The Gladiators have been using the arm of Zbydniewski’s arm all night, and now they used his legs to score a touchdown.
Zbydniewski scored on a 1-yard touchdown. However, after his touchdown, kicker Ross Gornall missed the extra point to make it 42-41.
To open the fourth quarter, Raudabaugh threw a touchdown to Jones for 15 yards. This big touchdown gave the Soul the lead again to make it 42-35.
Raudabaugh threw an interception on the following drive. He was picked off by Gladiators defender Brian Anderson.
Anderson then brought the ball back to the 17 yard line. On the very next play, Zbydniewski hit Jamar Howard for a 17-yard touchdown that tied the game at 35-35.
After the Soul turned the ball over on the first drive of the second half on 4th down, the Gladiators strike quickly to make it 35-28. Zbydniewski hit Howard for a 39 yard touchdown to get back within 7 points again.
The Soul led at the half 35-21.
In the second quarter, it became a shootout, as the Soul took a huge lead. Derrick Ross scored on a one-yard rush that closed out the scoring in the quarter.
After three straight plays, where the Soul were stopped on the one-yard line, Dolezel tells the team to go for it on 4th and 1. On that exact play, a Gladiators defender was called for holding, giving the Soul new life.
On the following play after the penalty, Ross took the ball into the end zone after a hand off from quarterback Dan Raudabaugh.
The Gladiators make it 28-21 after their quarterback Brian Zbydniewski connected with Lewis on a 34-yard touchdown. This came after Raudabaugh hit his favorite connection, wide receiver Tiger Jones for a 6-yard touchdown to make it 28-14.
Zbydniewski also connected with Lewis for another touchdown in the second quarter. Their first touchdown of the game came on a 14-yard touchdown pass to make it 21-14.
Much like Zbydniewski, Raudabaugh also had two touchdown passes in the second quarter. Besides connecting with Jones, he also threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Larry Brackins to make it 21-7.
When the Soul kicked off the ball to the Gladiators, their kick returner fumbled the ball after being hit by LeRico Stevenson. Stevenson would then pick up the ball and take it into the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown.
After the Gladiators first touchdown of the game, Ross was able to tie the game at 7-7. He scored on a 2-yard touchdown.
Zbydniewski gave the Gladiators a 7-0 lead after he hit Jonathan Wilson for a 6-yard touchdown pass. The touchdown pass gave Cleveland a 7-0 lead.
“We’re going come out and we’re really going hit this week hard like it’s an Arena Bowl-type of week,” said Raudabaugh. “I promise I’ll come out and play better and lead this team better.”