A game that sank slowly but surely
It had gone from good to bad.
On a dime, Dan Raudbaugh of Philadelphia found Shaun Kauleinamoku wide open to the right corner of the end zone 28 yards out before the KISS fans found their seats. It was one of three touchdowns the Soul connected with from more than 25 yards. LA hung on though and kept things close for the first 15 minutes.
It had then gone from bad to worse.
Tracy Belton gets in front of DJ Stephens on a three yard hitch route, snags a pick and takes it to the house. It then led to the demise the KISS had faced as they saw their 7 point deficit turn to 21 as they reached halftime. Nathan Stanley was out of rhythm for most of the first half, throwing off target passes and making bad reads going deep. Many of his receiving core missed out on some easy catches, where every dropped pass meant more momentum for the Soul defense.
It had then gone from worse to oblivion.
On a freak play kickoff return, Rayshaun Kizer lands awkwardly on his left ankle. He was unable to put any pressure on it was carried off the field. At that point the KISS were already down big, but losing one of the prime defensive players in the league was only salt to the wounds as they were unable to get anything in play. A 56-33 defeat only shows that the KISS are heading back in the wrong direction.
“In this game, when you turn the ball over, you will get out of coming back real fast,” KISS head coach Omarr Smith said. “Especially against good teams that are talented, you have to be better on offense and you have to learn how to take care of the football.”
No football team of any caliber can win football games if you can’t find ways to convert when it matters most. They were 3-for-9 on third down conversions, and going 2-for-5 on fourth down plays led to 14 points. 21 in total came off of turnovers counting the turnover. It was a game where being unable to control the football led to a complete collapse from all sides of the game.
“Defensively when you can’t get your team back into a game when your offense is off makes this loss a team effort,” Smith said. “When you give up 56 points, that is all solely on the defense.”
Stanley had a completion rate well under 50 percent, and his 191 yards in total was the worst he has done this season. For the second time against a formidable opponent, he was unable to climb out of a big hole. The same ordeal happened against Arizona when his second half collapse led to a mounting scoring run against the Rattlers.
“Philadelphia has a good pash rush and they gave a lot against Stanley,” Smith said. “A lot of that came from our offense in general. I lost count on how many times we dropped the ball. Of course the quarterback is going to get a lot of criticism, but everyone knows inside the building that everyone on the offensive core needs to perform better.”
At 2-3, the KISS have looked promising compared to years past. They are still in the middle of the pack in nearly every stat, and their current position in the league record wise shows. Smith is not the type of coach who can let things fly, and his main focus is to correct the wrong and get this team back in order.
“We have to get back into practice knowing its back to work, and we need to get better on all sides of the ball,” Smith said.
Manny Nunez is a freelance writer who resides in Los Angeles. He has been an arena football fan since 1996 while living in Phoenix, dedicated to the Arizona Rattlers. Although he lives in Southern California, he still reps his Arizona teams. He is also a beat writer for the Phoenix Coyotes for InsideHockey.com.