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Derrick Ross, Defense Lead Soul to 3rd Straight Win

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PHILADELPHIA, PA — In their last regular season home game of the year and Fan Appreciation Night, the Philadelphia Soul (9-8) defeated the San Jose Sabercats 42-20 in front of a rowdy crowd of 10,471 people, bolstering their hopes for yet another AFL playoff appearance.

After shutting down Orlando two weeks ago, the Soul defense put on a show again today, holding the Sabercats (12-5) to just 20 points. Four months ago, in Week 3, the Soul gave up 70 points to this very same San Jose team. What a difference 16 weeks can make.

Kizer’s big day was a big part of the Soul defense’s stout performance (photo: Philly.com)

Defensive back Rayshaun Kizer, the Riddell Defensive Player of the Game, had two picks for a Philadelphia secondary that held San Jose QB Nathan Stanley to the following stat line: 17-for-40, 192 yards, 1 touchdown, and 3 interceptions. Stanley was just 9-for-26 when targeting either Kizer or James Romain.

Head Coach Clint Dolezel could not say enough good things about his defense after the game: “[Rayshaun] Kizer played great ball tonight. He played really, really well. He was all over their motion. The pass rush was a big part of that too. They put pressure on [Stanley], he was nervous back there, and we got to him. The defense played well.”

This win, the Soul’s third in a row, puts them .5 a game ahead of the Tampa Bay Storm for the Eastern Conference’s 2nd Wild Card spot. Tampa Bay, which plays its 2nd-to-last game tomorrow night, has the tiebreaker, which means the Soul need to have a better record to advance to the postseason when all is said and done.

On the offensive side of the ball, it was all about running back Derrick “The Boss” Ross, the AFL’s all-time rushing leader in yards and touchdowns. His stat line was outstanding—109 total yards, 4 total touchdowns—but it still does not tell the story of how vital he was to this team.

Late in the second quarter, with his team up just 14-6, Ross caught a short pass from Raudabaugh, and turned to run. Four Sabercats defenders swarmed Ross, but he bulldozed his way through all of them, eventually breaking the tackles of three more San Jose defenders before finally bullying his way across the goal line for a touchdown. For the first time this season, the Wells Fargo Center shook as Soul fans roared and applauded Ross’ brilliant run.

“I didn’t want to lose, man,” Ross remarked after the game when asked about his big run after the catch. “I came into the game saying that I wasn’t going to let my team lose, so I put it all out there tonight. Great week of preparation, and it came out and showed tonight.”

But that Sportscenter Top 10-worthy play was not enough. Ross had a few more big plays, including a 20-yard run late in the third quarter to help put distance between the Soul and Sabercats.

Despite how well the defense played, the result was in doubt early in the 3rd quarter when San Jose scored following a Raudabaugh interception, cutting the Soul lead to 21-20. From there, however, it was all Philadelphia; the defense forced two interceptions and two turnovers on downs from there on without allowing a single point, and wideout Markee White and Ross combined for the team’s final three touchdowns to put the game beyond all doubt.

This three-game win streak comes after two back-to-back last-second losses in early June. The resilience of this Soul team has been remarkable, and Raudabaugh was quick to point that out after the game: “Football is all about overcoming adversity and focusing on the next game, and the next play. You can’t change anything that has happened, and like I said, we took our rear-view mirror off early in the season, so we’re looking forward.”

The Soul finish up the 2014 regular season next Saturday in Pittsburgh, but the team will gather tomorrow to watch the aforementioned Spokane-Tampa Bay game.

 

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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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