Soul Defeats Empire 56-35 in Albany's Inaugural Game
Sunday April 15, 2018
ALBANY - The Albany Empire (0-1) opened their inaugural season with a loss to the Philadelphia Soul (1-0), 56-35, Saturday night in front of a sold-out crowd at the Times Union Center. Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh, threw for six touchdowns on his way to winning the Offensive Player of the Game award. Torez Jones was named Defensive Player of the Game with five tackles, a fumble recovery and an interception.
The Empire offense was led by quarterback Tommy Grady, who tossed for 259 yards and five touchdowns. His top target Greg Carr, caught eight passes from Grady, tallying for 74 yards and two touchdowns.
“I was ecstatic with the fan base,” said Rob Keefe, Head Coach of the Albany Empire. “We didn’t even have a name two or three months ago and to have this many people believe in us and give us a shot, we are greatly appreciative of that.”
Philadelphia came out firing on all cylinders. After returning the opening kickoff to nearly midfield, the Soul marched their way into the end zone, capping off their drive with a seven-yard touchdown to wide receiver Shaun Kauleinamoku.
The Empire answered right back on their first drive. Despite being the first time in game action together, the Empire gelled quickly and made their way to the end zone. The empire capped off their first ever offensive possession with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Carr.
The Soul wasted no time going right down the field again on their second possession. Raudabaugh found receiver Darius Prince 15 yards downfield in the back of the end zone for this first touchdown reception of the night at the end of the first quarter.
The first score of the second quarter came on a deep, 27-yarder to receiver, to Collin Taylor, for his first touchdown as a member of the Empire. After another Soul touchdown to answer, the Empire recovered a failed onside kick from Philadelphia, giving Albany great field position. The Empire capitalized with another hookup between Grady and Carr for six. To end the half, the Soul scored two touchdowns in the final minute, giving Philadelphia a 35-21 lead. At the end of the half, Grady had 132 passing yards for three touchdowns. His counterpart, Dan Raudabaugh, compiled 110 yards for four touchdowns.
After a halftime ceremony highlighted by the retirement of Albany Firebird legend “Touchdown” Eddie Brown’s number 17, the Empire took the ball. Despite moving the ball downfield, Philadelphia forced a turnover on a backwards pass fumble from Grady. The Soul marched their way down for another score.
Down 42-21, The Empire made their way down the field in large part to a huge gain on the ground from fullback, Wes Mauia. The drive was completed with a short, six-yard touchdown pass from Grady to Doug McNeil III. The next Philadelphia drive ended with a missed field goal that bounced in play and was recovered for a Soul touchdown. The Empire wasted no time responding, tossing a 48-yard touchdown to receiver, Malachi Jones.
On a crucial driving being down by only two touchdowns midway through the fourth quarter, the Empire turned the ball over on downs on the opposing three-yard line. Philadelphia milked a lot of clock and moved the ball down field for another score, increasing their cushion to 21.
The Empire were unable to convert on their next possession, giving the ball back to Philadelphia. The Soul maintained control until the final seconds ticked off the clock. The final score of the game was 56-35.
“We still have a long way to go, it’s a journey,” said Keefe, post-game. “I don’t want to use the excuse ‘they were two-time defending champs,’ the fans were telling me that it was a great show, and I appreciate that, but our job is to beat the two-time defending champs.”
Albany Empire 2018 Inaugural Season Presented By CDPHP.
About Albany Empire
The Arena Football League’s newest franchise, The Albany Empire will begin play Saturday, April 10 at the Times Union Center. Season memberships for the inaugural 2018 season are on sale now. For tickets, contact the Albany Empire sales department at (518) 533-2200 or by going to TheAlbanyEmpire.com. Follow the team on Facebook at facebook.com/TheAlbanyEmpire and Twitter at twitter.com/Albany_Empire.
About Arena Football League
The Arena Football League will enter its 31st Season in 2018. Since its inception in 1987, the Arena Football League has showcased a fast-paced and exciting game to millions of fans in a myriad of markets across the country. Teams slated for 2018 include: Albany, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. CBS Sports Network nationally broadcasts AFL games each week, culminating with the ArenaBowl. The AFL launched AFLNow, the League’s streaming “Over-the-Top” network to give fans even more access to the League on arenafootball.com. For all the latest news and discussion on the Arena Football League follow the AFL on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@aflarenaball)
About Times Union Center
Albany’s Times Union Center, formerly Pepsi Arena, continues to have great success. Renamed in January 2007, the The Times Union Center is “Upstate New York’s Premier Sports and Entertainment Facility. Owned by Albany County and operated by SMG, the world’s largest private management firm for public assembly facilities, the Times Union Center has an adaptable seating capacity between 6,000 and 17,500. Since Frank Sinatra christened the building on January 30, 1990, more than seven million patrons have walked through the turnstiles. As a multi-purpose facility, the Times Union Center has hosted a variety of events, including concerts, family shows and sporting events, averaging 165 events each year.
Established in 1984, CDPHP is a physician-founded, member-focused and community-based not-for-profit health plan that offers high-quality affordable health insurance plans to members in 24 counties throughout New York. CDPHP is also on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Founded in 1988 and headquartered in Schenectady, New York, Transfinder is a national leader in intelligent transportation systems, providing transportation management systems and services to school districts, municipalities and adult care facilities. Transfinder, an Inc. magazine “fastest-growing company” for the past eleven straight years, has offices in Austin, Texas, and Shanghai, China. The software company develops and supports routing and scheduling solutions for optimal transportation logistics.