Heading into a stretch of games away from the Wells Fargo Center, it is very important that the Philadelphia Soul find a way to center themselves and rebound from their home loss against the Albany Empire. This week, the task at hand is the matchup against the reigning and defending Arena Football League champions, the Washington Valor. A win against such competition on the road for the Soul would be a big step in the right direction to regain the momentum they had going into week three.
Head coach, Clint Dolezel, is seeking his eightieth win with the Philadelphia Soul. In games following a loss, the Soul are 17-7 all time under Dolezel. Historically, the odds are in the favor of Philadelphia in a recovery game. Quarterback, Dan Raudabaugh, averages six touchdown passes against the Washington Valor and Soul wide receiver, Darius Prince, is tied for the AFL lead in receiving touchdowns. In the last showdown between these two teams, the Soul won, 63-28, without Raudabaugh. Thomas Dover was assigned to the Soul after Darius Rosser was placed on injured reserve on Monday, following the defeat to the Albany Empire. Fred Lauina is also replacing Phillip-Keith Manley, who was suspended by the AFL. With these two additions to fill in, this is another new lineup for the Soul this season.
“We’re fully prepared to face the defending champs this weekend,” said Philadelphia Soul general manager, Beau Bell. The Soul have never lost to the Washington Valor on the road and only lost one time to them previously.
Analysis; Philadelphia Soul at Washington Valor: Week 4
To open the game, the Washington Valor began with the football and the offense exploded with a very short drive, wrapping up with an Arvell Nelson seven-yard touchdown pass to Jared Dangerfield followed by a Pat Clarke extra point conversion. The Valor took the lead, 7-0, forcing the Philadelphia Soul to have to answer back. Just as quick as the Valor scored, the Soul did as well, on a twenty-eight-yard pass from Dan Raudabaugh to Darius Prince. The struggles on special teams continued as Kenny Spencer missed the extra point. The Valor held onto the lead, 7-6, with an opportunity to extend that lead.
Nelson and the Valor offense take the field back, but their next offensive drive ends in an interception by Philadelphia’s defensive back, Dwayne Hollis. He returned the interception to the one-yard line. On the goal line, with the opportunity to take the lead, the Soul enlisted the help of the rushing attack, but it failed as Raudabaugh would originally not score the touchdown and fumble, but recover his own fumble. Adrian Ferns would have three cracks at scoring to take the lead, but the Valor held and forced a turnover on downs. The Valor would take back possession and work the ball downfield, finishing with a one-yard Nelson touchdown run and Clarke extra point, extending their lead to 14-6.
Beginning the second quarter, the Philadelphia Soul would originally have possession to attempt to close the deficit, inching closer to a two-possession game. The Soul would strike again quickly with a Dan Raudabaugh thirty-five yard touchdown pass to Aaron Wascha. This time, Kenny Spencer would convert the extra point attempt, making the score, 14-13. The Washington Valor wouldn’t be stopped on their first possession of the second half, getting a touchdown of their own, as Nelson Arvell completed a ten-yard pass to Reggie Gray.
Pat Clarke would convert the extra point again, making the lead 21-13. Forcing the pressure to answer back with another touchdown, the Soul did exactly that in two plays, ending with a Raudabaugh thirteen yard touchdown to Lonnie Outlaw coupled with an extra point from Spencer, bringing the Soul back within one point, 21-20. The Valor would then go back on the offensive, running a methodical drive down the field to drain the clock. The Soul’s defense made the Valor work for the touchdown however on this drive, capped off with a Nelson one-yard touchdown rush, closing out the half with another converted Clarke extra point. At halftime, the Valor lead the Soul, 28-20.
Starting the second half, the Philadelphia Soul would attempt to close the lead once again and start out strong against the Washington Valor. It was a surprise to the Valor defense that Keith Newell would have his number called upon, getting the three-yard touchdown reception from Dan Raudabaugh. Kenny Spencer would convert the extra point, making the score 28-27, in favor of the Valor. Three minutes later, the Valor would answer score another touchdown in the air as Nelson Arvell completed an eleven-yard touchdown to Doug McNeil III.
Perfect on the evening, Pat Clarke would convert another extra point attempt, making the lead 35-27. On the ensuing kickoff, the returning wide receiver, Jordan Williams, would return the kick forty-two yards, putting the Soul in position to answer back with another score quickly. However, Raudabaugh would commit his first turnover this game, throwing an interception in the endzone to Jadar Johnson. The ball would bounce off of the steel where the kickoff netting was, keeping the ball alive and playable. With the ball back in the possession of the Valor, this was their first opportunity to extend the lead into two possessions.
Washington would succeed, as Nelson would complete a thirty-seven-yard pass to Reggie Gray and Clarke converted the extra point, extending the lead to 42-27. With a vengeance, the Soul would come back with a very quick score, as Raudabaugh connected with Darius Prince for a forty-yard touchdown and a good extra point from Spencer. The Soul would go for an onside kick at the end of the third quarter, recovering the kick, however, the Soul would be penalized with an illegal touching call and the ball would be awarded to the Valor.
In the final stanza of this game, it was most important for the Philadelphia Soul to make a defensive stand. On the Washington Valor’s first offensive drive of the fourth quarter, they would turn the ball over on downs, providing extra life to the Soul! Dan Raudabaugh would cash in on a seventeen-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Wascha, but Kenny Spencer would fail the extra point attempt again this game, making the score 42-40. Execution on the special teams once again is a costly trend for the Soul. With the opportunity to go on a long drive to melt time off of the clock, the Valor took over on offense again in the fourth quarter, but the Soul’s defense would limit the damage. Pat Clarke would convert a thirty-yard field goal, but the Soul were now in striking range as the Valor led, 45-40. Less than a minute remained, so the Soul had to be precise.
The Valor attempt an onside kick, but it is recovered by the Soul, giving Philadelphia a real opportunity to steal a win. With less than thirty seconds left in the game, Raudabaugh would connect with Wascha again for a fourteen-yard touchdown. The Soul would go for two, but the pass would fall incomplete. The Soul had their first lead this game, 46-45. The special teams coverage would do their job, not providing ideal field position for the Valor, who had twenty seconds left to score and win the game. Unfortunately, they would do just that as Arvell Nelson connected with Josh Reese for a forty-six-yard touchdown. The Valor would go for two and convert as well, Nelson to Doug McNeil III, breaking the hearts of the Soul to take back the lead and win, 53-46.
The Philadelphia Soul defense made stops to give extra life and an opportunity at a win. Kenny Spencer’s kicking struggles for the Soul continue to be a glaring weakness and leaves points on the board. Both defenses mostly played equally well, forcing a turnover on downs in a goal line situation. Both teams came up big with an interception, one for Jadar Johnson on the Washington Valor’s defense and the other for the Soul’s defense with Dwayne Hollis. The Soul held the Valor on a possession to a field goal and took the lead for all of thirteen seconds in this game, but couldn’t make that final clutch defensive stand. Even with the special teams struggling, it was a game that the Soul could have still won, which shows just how remarkable the Philadelphia offense was to keep up with the Valor and briefly take a lead.
Four weeks into the season and the Philadelphia Soul offensive line has not yet allowed Dan Raudabaugh to be sacked. This offensive line may be elite, however, the Washington Valor did a stellar job keeping the Soul’s rushing attack in check. Jake Metz did record a sack in this game for a seven yard loss.
The Washington Valor were more efficient at moving the ball on offense, converting twenty-one first downs and controlling the time of possession. The Philadelphia Soul rushed the ball four times for negative two yards rushing in total. That mostly came from the goal line stand where Adrian Ferns was held to no gain or pushed back for a loss of two. The Valor rushed the ball twelve times for thirty-four yards. The rushing game existing for the Valor just meant that they had their offense working better in all phases. Nelson Arvell broke the three hundred yard marker for yards passing as Dan Raudabaugh passed for two hundred and eighty yards. Raudabaugh and Arvell accounted for all seven of their teams’ touchdowns, however, Arvell did have two rushing touchdowns included.
The Philadelphia Soul are still ranked in second place in the overall AFL standings as the Washington Valor are ranked fourth in the AFL standings. Both teams are still currently playoff bound at this stage of the season, sitting at 2-2 respectively. The Valor in week five will take on the Columbus Destroyers (0-4) in Columbus. The Soul will have a rematch against the Baltimore Brigade (2-2) in Baltimore. The last time Philadelphia played Baltimore, in Baltimore, was week two of this season. The Soul won, 36-27, and they look to get back into the win column and get back to above a .500 win percentage on the season.