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Soul Lose on Last Play Once Again, Fall 69-68

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PHILADELPHIA, PA — In yet another heartbreaking, last-second loss, the Philadelphia Soul fell to the Cleveland Gladiators 69-68 despite outplaying their opponents for much of the game.

Markee White catches Raudabaugh's rifle in the end zone with 2 seconds left, but the celebration was short-lived (Photo: Darryl Rule/Philadelphia Soul)

Markee White catches Raudabaugh’s rifle in the end zone with 2 seconds left, but the celebration was short-lived (Photo: Darryl Rule/Philadelphia Soul)

It seemed almost Disney-like. After having lost four games on the last play this season, it was now the Soul (6-8) on the verge of redemption. With two seconds left, a beautiful touchdown pass to the back of the end zone by quarterback Dan Raudabaugh gave the Soul a 68-63 lead, seemingly ending the game.

But then, just as it has far too often this season, everything unraveled for the Soul. After a touchback on the kickoff prevented the Soul from running out the clock, the division rival Cleveland Gladiators (12-1) lined up at their own 5-yard line for a last-second Hail Mary. Quarterback Shane Austin, having thrown 10 touchdowns already on the night, launched the ball downfield, with Soul cornerback James Romain batting it down . . . right into the waiting arms of Cleveland wide receiver Domini Goodman, giving Cleveland the win as time expired.

Soul head coach Clint Dolezel put it pretty simply after the game when speaking with the media: “We knocked it down, they caught it.”

And catch it they did, leaving a feeling of deja vu for the stunned, silent Soul crowd at the Wells Fargo Center. On May 23, just a few weeks ago, Cleveland also came back from a deficit to win on a last-play touchdown pass by Austin.

Dolezel added, “It’s not just this game, it’s happened all year long where we’ve lost games just like that. The frustration is overwhelming right now.”

The frustration is reasonable, as the Soul clearly outplayed the AFL’s top team for 59 minutes and 58 seconds of the 60-minute game; with touchdowns from all three units, offense, defense, and special teams, the Soul excelled. Derrick “The Boss” Ross ran for three more touchdowns, Ray Little’s kick returns were dazzling, and the defense even in pitched in with two sacks, several key pass deflections, and a fumble recovery in the end zone.

Ray Little Soul Kickoff Return Touchdown

Ray Little begins what would end up being a 52-yard kickoff return TD (photo: Darryl Rule/Philadelphia Soul)

It was not just the Hail Mary that doomed Philadelphia; up two touchdowns with under three minutes remaining, the game seemed all but over, but Cleveland scored and then recovered the onside kick, breathing new life into the Gladiators. If it were not for that onside kick, the Hail Mary would likely have never happened.

But it did, and the Soul are now in must-win mode. Dolezel understands that: “We have to win all of our football games. We have to go 4-0. All our games are winnable, and we have to win them.”

Raudabaugh, for his part, remains strong in the face of seemingly unending adversity—in addition to having lost five games on the last play, the Soul have six players on Injured Reserve. “It’s tough, but we’ll learn from it. We’ll only get better from this, and we’ve got to stay on the grindstone. This is an easy way to take a nosedive and let it all go to junk, but we’re not going to let that happen. We’ve got enough leaders and veterans and good players on this team to not let that happen.”

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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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