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Soul Lose Nailbiter, 57-56, to Rival Pittsburgh

PHILADELPHIA (Wells Fargo Center) — In a game where three key players went down with injuries, the Philadelphia Soul (6-7) fought back from a 12-point second-half deficit only to watch Pittsburgh Power kicker Julian Rauch bang home a 23-yard field goal, giving his team a 57-56 win over the Soul.

The Soul have now lost to Pittsburgh (10-3) twice by a combined nine points. The Power were led by wideout Prec Rodriguez, who had 13 receptions, 144 yards, and five touchdowns.

Ross continued his great season with 36 yards and two touchdowns (photo: Football Stories)

After a Soul fumble recovery on the opening kickoff, Derrick “The Boss” Ross, the AFL’s all-time leading rusher, got the Soul going with two first-downs and then a touchdown run on the first drive of the game.

Later in the first quarter, Raudabaugh threw a deep pass which down the left side which fell incomplete. Wide receiver Ryan McDaniel, second on the team in receiving yards on the season, appeared to hurt his knee and was carried off the field by teammates. On the subsequent play, Raudabaugh would complete a touchdown pass to McDaniel’s replacement, Emery Sammons, who finished the game with a Soul franchise record-tying 14 receptions for 144 yards and three touchdowns.

Of Sammons’ performance, Head Coach Clint Dolezel remarked after the game, “Emery is a great football player, in every aspect of the game. He’s a great special teams guy, he runs down kickoffs, he’s one of the better returners. He’s got great speed, great hands, and he stepped up and played a great game for us.”

Sammons, who nearly doubled his reception count for the year (from 17 to 31), added, “I just had to step it up. When you step into the face of adversity, you have to step up to the plate. That’s just how this game works.”

The start of the second half, however, turned the tide of the game. Raudabaugh’s pass, intended for Tiger Jones, was intercepted by Al Phillips. After seeing the replay, however, it was clear the ball had hit the ground, but with zero challenges left, Dolezel was unable to get a booth review.

Raudabaugh and Dolezel were without their starting kicker, middle linebacker, and starting wideout for much of the game (photo: Football Stories)

“There were a lot of plays in the game that changed it, and that was one of them for sure,” said Dolezel. “I had to use my challenge flags in the first half and didn’t have any to use on two other calls that were wrong.”

The Power would go on to score a touchdown on that ensuing drive, and then got another touchdown on the next play thanks to a fumble in the end zone by the Soul on the kickoff return. Suddenly, the Power led 40-28 after trailing 28-27 heading into halftime.

The Soul would fight back. In the fourth quarter, the Soul scored 12 unanswered points thanks to an interception by Rayshaun Kizer. Then, with 35 seconds left, Raudabaugh hit V’Keon Lacey for his sixth passing touchdown of the day, and then ran the two-point conversion in all by himself to give the Soul a 56-54 lead.

At that point, it seemed all but over.

With kicker Carlos Martinez out with a hamstring injury, however, the Soul were forced to have an offensive lineman kick off, and a shanked kick gave the Power excellent field position. An offsides call on TJ Langley on 4th down gave the Power another chance, and they set up a field goal with time expiring that ended up sealing the deal.

With 5 games left, the Soul “need to win out,” according to Dolezel. They currently do not have the tiebreaker against the other teams in the race for the American Conference’s 2nd Wild Card spot, Iowa and Tampa Bay.

Philadelphia come back next week at the Wells Fargo Center against the conference’s best team, the 11-1 Gladiators.

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Categories: Soul

Author:Manav Khandelwal

I am the founder of Khandyman Sports, and follow all Philadelphia pro sports teams religiously. I also write for the Hoop76, covering the Sixers for ESPN, and am a credentialed Flyers reporter for Main Line Media News.

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