By Maximillian C. Burgos | Contributing Writer
As the confetti settles, the reality sets in that the Philadelphia Soul have yet again been crowded world champions. The game was closely contested until the end. The Tampa Bay Storm held the lead for the first half, but after the break, after some back and forth scoring, the Soul came out on top.
The Soul defeated the Storm 44-40 at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night.
To start the game, the Soul picked off the Storm in specular fashion. Cornerback Dwayne Hollis picked off Storm quarterback Randy Hippeard to electrify the crowd. The Soul did not do much with the ball. On a missed field goal attempt, Storm defensive back Al Phillips received it and ran it back for a touchdown to give the lead to the Storm.
He made the Soul field goal unit look like it was standing still as he spun, juked, and sprinted past them.
Soul wide receiver Darius “Money” Reynolds had a few opportunities to chip in to the lead of the Storm, but he dropped a few key passes. The Soul really stepped on its own toes in the first quarter, never really gaining momentum or getting their bearings in the game.
The second quarter started off on a bitter note as wide receiver Chris Duvalt got knocked out on a poorly targeted tackle by the Storm defense. The penalty kept the drive alive and a few plays later, Soul receiver Darius Prince catch a touchdown pass to tie the game at 6. The Soul kicker did his job, getting the extra point and giving the Soul the lead.
The Storm responded with authority on the ensuing drive. Hippeard threw a bomb to wide receiver Joe Hills for the lead. This time around the Storm kicker did his job and got the extra point.
On the next ensuing drive, the Soul tried to respond with a rainbow connection on their own, but the Storm cornerback Alvin Ray Jackson snagged the ball out of the air and ran it all the way back for a touchdown.
The Soul fumbled the ball later in the quarter, recovering it themselves but losing a lot of yards. They continued to shoot themselves in the foot with dropped passes and broken plays.
Right before the half expired, fullback Mykel Benson powered his way into the end zone to chip into the Storm lead. The halftime expired with the score reading 20-14 Storm’s lead.
To come out in the second half, the Soul looked more like their dominant selves. Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh delivered an absolute dime to “Money” Reynolds to tie the game and the extra point gave the Soul the lead. The crowd went wild and the energy flowed into Soul momentum.
Tampa came back with bomb of their own to take back the lead. Hippeard threw into airtight coverage and somehow his receiver Kendrick Ings catch the ball and was able to out run the defense for a touchdown. The ball was thrown in a microscopic window.
Yet again, Tampa held the lead and the Soul were feeling the pressure. The Soul came back at the end of the quarter with a rushing touchdown by Mykel Benson to gain back the lead.
Coming into the fourth quarter, the game was 28-27 with the Soul in the lead. Raudabaugh, at the start of the fourth, electrified the crowd as he evaded pressure and delivered a dot to Prince.
The Soul defense came up clutch and forced a safety on the next drive. Tampa recovered an onside kick to keep hopes alive and Hippeard did not disappoint. He threw an another dime to answer the Soul’s momentum, bringing the score to 37-34.
They tried a second onside kick, but were not successful. The Soul ran the score to 44-34. Cornerback Dwayne Hollis intercepted a bomb from Hippeard. It was a beautiful example of positioning winning at the cornerback spot as the crowd erupted into cheers as they watched Hollis catch the ball.
The Storm scored a last second score, but it was too little too late.
As the dust settled, the confetti flew and the Soul were champions again. They only question is now, what’s next?
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