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Soul Head to Third ArenaBowl in Five Years

Harrison Brown
Monday August 15, 2016

ALLENTOWN- It wasn't pretty and it wasn't easy. But somehow someway, the Philadelphia Soul found a way to advance to their fourth ArenaBowl in team history defeating the Jacksonville Sharks 55-50.

While certainly not the best game of his career, Dan Raudabaugh pulled through at the end of the game with a clutch throw on a corner route to Darius Reynolds in the back corner of the end zone with just five seconds left in the game. The throw split the jack linebacker who came underneath to try and jump the route, and the corner who was on Reynolds hip. Raudabaugh went 26-38, 317 Yards, Six Touchdowns, and two interceptions.

"Heck of a throw there just to give money (Darius Reynolds) a shot at it, and for him to come down with it was a huge play." Head Coach Clint Dolezel said.

While Raudabaugh was only sacked once, he felt more pressure than usual with an offensive line that had all four members selected to the All-Arena team.

"We are really beat up," Dolezel said when talking about his front four on offense. "We've got a bad ankle with Tivis and he didn't play last week. It's a long season. J-Rich (Jeramie Richardson) is pretty sore too." Dolezel said.

The game started rough for the Soul when on the first snap of the game Raudabaugh was picked off by AFL veteran David Hyland.

"Dan was a little off early on and didn't take some check downs when we needed to." Dolezel said.

The Soul scored on their next offensive series, and on the proceeding kickoff, First Team All-Arena kicker Tommy Frevert drilled the ball off the upright and recovered the loose ball himself. The tide seemingly turned then when the Soul scored just two plays later.

An obvious matchup to watch throughout the game was the Sharks receivers and the Soul's defensive backs. With a receiving core featuring Joe Hills, former Soul and Eagles receiver Tiger Jones, and Reggie Gray, any secondary in the AFL would have their work cut out for them.

But the Soul with First Team All-Arena Jack Linebacker Joe Goosby, First Team corner Tracy Belton, Second Team corner Dwayne Hollis, and a proven middle man in James Romain seemingly were the best fit team to stop the three headed monster the Sharks have.

Both sides had their moments of "winning" the battle. My choice for MVP of the AFL Joe Hills had another great game with 13 receptions, 142 yards, and five touchdowns. Reggie Gray caught a touchdown pass, and Tiger Jones was rather quiet in the game with only three receptions.

For the Soul, Dwayne Hollis picked off Tommy Grady on an out route around midfield, and Tracy Belton and James Romain had six tackles a piece.

The Soul did make multiple mental mistakes on defense when in zone coverage. Joe Hills was able to exploit the defense with some wide open touchdown catches tonight, something that can't happen when the Soul face off against the Arizona Rattlers in two weeks.

"In the first half we had two busted coverages where they just didn't see it and didn't communicate, which you can't have. Those things are rare to us, we don't really make that many mistakes when we're doing that stuff so I'm not overly converse with it, but it can't happen." Dolezel said.

Friday August 26th will be the third time the Philadelphia Soul have met up with the Arizona Rattlers in an ArenaBowl. The Soul are 0-2 against the Rattlers in ArenaBowl's, but did get their first win against them in franchise history earlier this year.  

Harrison Brown is a 17-year old sports reporter who covers the Philadelphia Soul daily and conducts interviews with players and coaches as well. He covers all the Soul home games and practices, and he covered ArenaBowl XXVI in Orlando. Harrison enjoys interviewing players on his YouTube channel Sunday Night Sports, writing articles, and playing high school football. Follow Harrison on Twitter @SnsdSports.
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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