Getting back to a .500 win percentage, the Philadelphia Soul returned back to the Wells Fargo Center in an attempt to secure another win on the 2019 season. The task at hand was the reigning and defending Arena Football League Arena Bowl champions, the Washington Valor. As I mentioned in the Philly Sports Network article a week ago, previewing this game, the Soul had the game pulled out of their grasp in the first meeting of 2019 against the Valor with six seconds to play in the game.
With revenge on the mind and redemption as the opportunity, this game was a must win. In front of 7,164 Philadelphia fans, a changing of the tides back over to a winning season was on the line. Washington was also fighting to pick up their fourth win this season. When the clock hit zero and the final whistle was blown, the Valor left Philadelphia with a 48-41 win over the Soul.
In the post-game press conference, the Philadelphia Soul head coach, Clint Dolezel, was asked to describe the loss: “We didn’t play well, that’s the bottom line. We are not making plays, we’re missing throws, dropping balls, it’s the same old story when we lose. Not disciplined, that reflects me which we will resolve, I promise you that.” Dolezel held his coaching of the players accountable for penalties on clutch drives such as a Torez Jones defensive holding and an earlier pass interference by Dwayne Hollis. Darius Prince had a couple of dropped touchdown catches on separate drives that he usually makes from Dan Raudabaugh on the offensive side. All the things that went right against the Columbus Destroyers didn’t against the Washington Valor.
The Philadelphia Soul came out in their black, Military Appreciation Day uniforms with everything to gain. In the coin toss, the Washington Valor won the toss and deferred to the second half, allowing the Soul to begin the game on offense.
The first quarter was officially underway as Dan Raudabaugh and the Philadelphia Soul offense came onto the field on their first drive of the game. On the Soul’s first play on offense, Raudabaugh found BJ Bunn for a nine-yard catch, but it was fumbled and recovered by the Washington Valor’s Zack Bullock.
This allowed Arvell Nelson to take over in scoring range, but the Soul defense made a big play when James Romain intercepted Nelson to end the scoring threat on Washington’s first play on offense. Romain was asked about this interception: “This league, big guys are in motion against little DBs [defensive backs], trying to cross our feet with big body routes. Just from my film study, that one play in film study worked to my favor. I knew the offense and the team needed to put out the fire from us turning over the ball. I just made a great play.”
The Philadelphia Soul offense would recover after the quick turnovers from both teams, finishing their next drive with a two-yard touchdown run. As the Soul recovered on offense, so did the Washington Valor as they took advantage of a pass interference penalty against James Romain en route to scoring their first touchdown of the night. Arvell Nelson’s first touchdown pass to Douglas McNeil III was the first of three for McNeil and of six for Nelson on the day. However, Pat Clarke would be the only kicker to miss an extra point in this game. One thing that, no pun intended, was kicking on all cylinders was Kenny Spencer who had a perfect night. The end of the first quarter saw the Soul lead the Valor, 7-6.
Continued on the page below.