Marco Thomas scores five touchdowns in the Soul's Boardwalk Bowl win
ATLANTIC CITY - Boardwalk Hall has finally seen football again. For the first time since 2004, indoor football has returned to the historic arena with the Philadelphia Soul taking down the Las Vegas Outlaws 51-43 on Saturday night. The inaugural Boardwalk Bowl was a huge success for the Philadelphia Soul, and the Arena Football League as a whole.
“It was good, it was different. For the first time holding an event like this, hats of to our staff and ownership,” Clint Dolezel said. “The actual game day was the only thing that was different we had a pep rally. We’re usually on our own, sleeping getting ready but it was for a good cause we needed to get some fans out here, and I think this is a good venue to come back to.”
The game was a back and forth affair in the first half, ending at 21-17 in favor of the Outlaws. With rookie quarterback Sean Brackett at the helm, Vegas played a very good first half of football. Brackett showed his ability to move out of the pocket with three rushes for 43 yards. Brackett struggled with his deep balls making multiple bad throws down the field. Brackett replaced J.J. Raterink who was placed on inactive reserve earlier this week.
Marco Thomas shined for the Soul with five touchdown receptions, putting him at 21 on the season.
“Played great, that’s the bottom line," said Dolezel. "They kept trying to press him and he kept beating it. Hats off to him, Dan put it where he needed to all five times.”
Rookie Jake Metz played in his first AFL game in the Boardwalk Bowl, starting in place for Beau Bell who was injured last week.
“First game, just wanted to get out here and have fun," said the rookie. "My teammates rallied around me and helped me feel comfortable but I still have a lot to learn.”
Metz, a true defensive end, had to help in coverage at times tonight, but because of his 6-foot-6 stature, he blocked a lot of Brackett’s vision.
“It was different, but I’ve been playing football for years, so I just translated it,” Metz stated after the win.
Similar to Joe Goosby last week, Metz put on an ironman show, seeing action at fullback during the game, with one rush for a yard.
“In camp they had me at fullback, and I guess I did well enough to let me on the field for it... This place has a lot of tradition and it’s beautiful here as you can tell, and the crowd was rocking and it was a great experience for my first game,” Metz said.
Early in the first quarter, Soul defensive back James Romain and Las Vegas offensive lineman, Terrence Campbell got into an argument which ended in Campbell punching Romain in the jaw. Campbell was ejected from the game.
“When guys know they aren’t better than you, they like to talk trash, and he came up to my face and things got heated and he threw a punch to my jaw," recalled Romain. "That was uncalled for, and we as athletes should leave the fighting outside to the thugs and goons. In this game it’s a lot of mixed emotions and I just feel players need to control themselves, and think about their actions before. When coaches tell you don’t make any bonehead moves, I just have to police my guys not to make any bonehead moves next week.”
Clearly Boardwalk Hall is a perfect place for the Soul to hold an annual game with all the promotions and positive feedback from the fan base. If Atlantic City wasn’t so close to Philadelphia, it would be a perfect market for the Arena Football League.
The Arena resembles the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena in size but has an arch at the top of the building. If done correctly, Atlantic City still could be a potential market for the AFL in a few years. Right now the league needs to focus on another major east coast market and regaining their presence in the middle of the country.
“The venue here, Boardwalk Hall, is tremendous for Arena Football,” Soul owner Ron Jaworski said. “The sightlines are magnificent and they’re close to the field. Atlantic City has been kind of beaten up over the past couple of years and I think it’s a really good opportunity to bring the Draft Kings Boardwalk Bowl to Boardwalk Hall and shine a positive light on this region, and not only show that the Philadelphia Soul are alive and well but so is Atlantic City."