Soul win their home opener in nail-biting fashion
By Maximillian C. Burgos | Staff Writer
The Philadelphia Soul edged out the Baltimore Brigade in what proved to be a nail-biter of a game. The entire game was loaded with big plays by both teams. Both teams scored frequently and often, but it was the Soul that pulled it out in the end 54- 48.
The Soul on their first drive of the game, punched it into the end zone in an attempt to set the tone for the game. But, the Brigade had other ideas, blocking the extra point attempt. The Brigade then came down the field on a grinding seven play ding-and-donk drive, to score and get out ahead by one point.
On that drive, the Brigade converted on a fourth down play. They did so a few times during the game, really straining the Soul defense and extending drives that should have ended early.
“The defensive effort was good,” said Soul head coach Clint Dolezel. “It was good but it could have been better. There were a few plays that we could have made and we didn’t. We let them off the hook by letting them convert of fourth down like two or three times. What can I say though, that’s a good team.”
The defense did make a few plays though that changed the outcome of the game. One play, in particular, was when fullback and linebacker Jeramie Richardson made a critical sack before the end of the third quarter on fourth down which ultimately allowed his team to get the lead.
The offense for the Soul played hard all game, barring a slight hiccup on their second drive where their star wider receiver Darius “Money” Reynolds fumbled the ball on the two-yard line, losing possession of the ball. Other than that, the offense and Reynolds had a day.
Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh and Reynolds connected 11 times for 151 yards and four touchdowns. There were times that Reynolds just seemed to be everywhere on the field offensively. Not to be outdone, both receivers Shaun Kauleinamoku and Darius Prince had solid performances. Kauleinamoku caught eight passes for 89 yards and Prince caught seven passes for 70 yards, including a spectacular diving catch that sent the fans into a frenzy of cheers.
All together Raudabaugh went 28-34 while throwing 321 passing yards and six touchdowns. His offensive line kept him clean during the game, allowing him to work through his progressions and make the best passes he could.
“A lot of times when we struggle, it’s on our own accord,” Raudabaugh said. “We struggle when we can’t get out of our own way. That being said, we try to keep things simple. We trust our guys to be themselves. We don’t need to do anything special. We just have to do our jobs. Our line blocked really well.”
The Soul will see the Brigade again a few more times during the season. A player that they have to look out for is Brigade wide receiver, Brandon Thompkins. Thompkins seemed to be everywhere on the field for the Brigade. He returned a kickoff for a touchdown and caught 7 passes for 71 yards. In his career, he has caught 574 receptions for 7,095 yards and 140 touchdowns. He could prove to be an issue for the Soul later in the season.
Though the Soul struggled in the first half, Dolezel didn’t seem to be worried. Many of the players on the Soul have been around the block a few times before and he is confident that he has the weapons to come out on top every time.
“We just weren’t on the same page with a few things,” Dolezel said. “It’s still early in the season, so I’m not overly worried about it. We played better in the second half and we took advantage of plays in the second half… We have a bunch of weapons. It’s really picking your poison. Last week it was Prince. This week it was Money. Next week it can be Shaun… Dan just throws the ball to whoever is open.”
This time the game came down to the final minute. Raudabaugh engineered a comeback drive down the field hitting Reynolds three times for huge plays. The third time was the game-winning touchdown pass. Raudabaugh hit a wide opener Reynolds who was running a crossing route to the back of the end zone.
The Brigade had the ball for the final seconds, but it was too little too late for them to pull a miracle win out. The game ended 54-48 as the Soul fans cheered. The Soul defense walked off the field relieved that they were able to make a few good plays to hold onto the lead and ultimately the win.