Philadelphia Freedom: Soul Survive Scare Against VooDoo
They didn't quite look as dominating as they normally do, but the Philadelphia Soul got the job done on Saturday night in their first playoff game since ArenaBowl XXII, beating the New Orleans VooDoo 66-53 in what amounted to be a fantastic game that was a lot closer than the final score indicated. The VooDoo led this game 39-38 near the end of the third quarter, but a fumble by WR Chris Duvalt gave the ball back to the Soul, who scored four plays later to take a lead that they would never relent. Philadelphia will move on to host the American Conference Championship Game next week against the Jacksonville Sharks.
The Soul came out of the blocks and turned the ball over on the first drive of the game, and that set the tone for what proved to be a chippy game. QB Dan Raudabaugh didn't have a fantastic game, completing just 19-of-31 passing for 250 yards with seven scores. He wasn't picked off, though he was sacked four times, including once for a safety right before the end of the first half.
Penalties were a factor for Philadelphia as well. The Soul were flagged 10 times for 51 yards, and many of the infractions proved to be killers. Still, Philadelphia managed to score touchdowns on its final five possessions, while the VooDoo turned the ball over twice and were held to a field goal once in the interim.
It was a great effort for the VooDoo, who were two-touchdown underdogs and were given very little chance of winning their first ever playoff game in franchise history. QB Kurt Rocco went 20-of-37 for 252 yards and six scores, but he was picked off twice. It was once again a great effort for WR Josh Bush, who had five TDs on his eight catches for 96 yards. No one else had a game of note for the offense, though.
FB Derrick Ross continued his big year, rushing for 30 yards on eight carries with two scores. WR Jeff Hughley had 76 yards and two scores on eight receptions, while WR Donovan Morgan caught four passes for 80 yards and three TDs.
Though the final margin of victory was 13, the game was in doubt until almost the very end. Down by seven with less than a minute to play and an injured K Remy Hamilton on the sidelines and out of the game, the Soul faced 4th and 10. An incomplete pass appeared to give the VooDoo back the ball with a chance to either tie or take the lead, but a late flag on DB Jeremy Kellem for pass interference gave the ball back to Philly. Even though the game was still technically in doubt, New Orleans was mentally out of the game. LB Alvin Ray Jackson was ejected from the game right after that play, and following the Soul touchdown that put the game away, DB Demarcus Robinson was ejected.
Head Coach Doug Plank improved to 8-0 all-time against the VooDoo in his career, and he became the 11th coach in the history of the league to win a fifth postseason game. Plank also is now in fourth place all-time for coaching winning percentage with a .692 mark after tonight's victory.
Philadelphia will now hope to win a fifth straight playoff game next week against a Jacksonville team that has also won four playoff games in a row. Kickoff is set for 8:00 p.m. (ET) on Friday night in a game that will be televised on the NFL Network.