Philadelphia Soul vs Atlantic City Blackjacks: Week 8 Recap

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Game Breakdown

Before the opening kickoff, the Atlantic City Blackjacks won the coin toss and elected to defer, kicking off to the Philadelphia Soul to start the game. Former National Football League defensive end, Devon Still, flipped the coin. He is from Camden, New Jersey and played college football at Penn State. In the NFL, Still was on the Cincinnati Bengals, the Houston Texans, and New York Jets. He also played high school football in Wilmington, Delaware at Howard.

Kicking off the first quarter, the Philadelphia Soul would begin the game on offense. “We wanted to get on track again. There were some open guys last week where maybe he went too high on his route and I threw him flat or he went flat and I threw him too high. It’s about making sure that doesn’t happen anymore,” said Dan Raudabaugh. The Soul’s offense under Raudabaugh was predicated around a short, quick, effective passing game in comparison to the many times that they went downfield on longer throws against the Washington Valor. Soul head coach, Clint Dolezel, stated of the short passing offense, “we started out with that in mind, it’s all about rhythm for quarterbacks at any level. More so on ours, just playing catch, short passes right off the bat, first downs, get comfortable, get the adrenaline going, and settling in. That’s what we did, the guys did a good job.”

This short passing game would prove to be effective as the Philadelphia Soul marched down the field on the way to their first score, setting up Adrian Ferns with a one-yard touchdown run, taking a 6-0 lead after Kenny Spencer would miss his only kick of the day. Next, it was the Atlantic City Blackjacks turn to answer, but the Soul put their offense on notice early, forcing a turnover on downs after defensive end, Thomas Dover, sacked Randy Hippeard. Clint Dolezel commented on the pass rush created by the Soul, “we put [Thomas] Dover at nose [tackle]. It was a good matchup with their center, who’s a little bit bigger guy, so we made him move his feet. We definitely got some pressure there.” Specifically from Dover, who had two sacks.

Thomas Dover sacks Randy Hippeard.

After the turnover on downs from the Atlantic City Blackjacks, the Philadelphia Soul started in prime scoring position. Adding quick points before the end of the first quarter, Adrian Ferns made himself familiar with the endzone again after another one yard touchdown run. Kenny Spencer would make this kick and the Soul would lead the Blackjacks at the end of the first quarter, 13-0.

Darius Prince’s catch into the Blackjacks bench makes ESPN Sportscenter Top 10.

Beginning the second quarter, the Atlantic City Blackjacks still had possession, but would once again turn the ball over on downs after an incomplete pass from Randy Hippeard. The Philadelphia Soul offense would take the field once again and convert a scoring opportunity to BJ Bunn for a touchdown. On the drive, Darius Prince had an ESPN Sportscenter Top 10 Play of a catch as he secured a first down in the air and into the Blackjacks bench. Kenny Spencer would convert the extra point. Clint Dolezel said Bunn does “a lot of good things well” when asked about his consistent performance as of late. Giving the Soul a 20-0 lead, the Blackjacks would finally answer with a Kendrick Ings touchdown pass from Randy Hippeard. Mark Lewis would convert the extra point, but Hippeard would leave this game with a knee injury.

Dan Raudabaugh to BJ Bunn for a TD.

In comes Warren Smith replacing Randy Hippeard for the rest of the game. Straight out of the gate, the initial observation was that Smith was more elusive and mobile. We spoke to Dwayne Hollis regarding any adjustments to this substitution, “we kept the same gameplan. I felt like we was playing at a high level anyway, so we just knew he was a more agile guy. He likes to run and kind of get out of the pocket so we slowed down and rushed our lanes a little bit better.”

Kendrick Ings scores a touchdown the same play Randy Hippeard is injured.

Continuing with the second quarter, now at 20-7, the Philadelphia Soul would work downfield to the one yard line. This would set up fullback, Adrian Ferns, for his third rushing touchdown of the day. The Soul would increase their lead to 27-7. Ferns had glowing reviews from his teammates and coach at the end of this game. Clint Dolezel stated, “Ferns did well, it just so happened we were at the one-yard line a bunch tonight and we’re gonna’ call his number.” That is exactly the scenario. He had a grand total of three combined rushing yards on his three touchdowns runs. Dan Raudabaugh said the same, “Big guy, one-yard line, what did ya’ll think was going to happen? I love Adrian. That’s a very selfless position, the fullback position.” That’s been particularly true for the Soul this season and the reality of Raudabaugh behind center. Not only has Ferns been effective on the ground to convert scoring chances, especially against the Blackjacks, but he has also been a proven help at protecting Raudabaugh. The Soul quarterback has only been sacked once this season, last week against the Washington Valor. A big part of that is the selflessness Raudabaugh credits Ferns with, being able to be effective at blocking a pass rush and being rewarded with a touchdown run.

Adrian Ferns scores and celebrates with Dan Raudabaugh.

When we had the opportunity to speak with Adrian Ferns, he put the credit right back on the offensive line’s shoulders, “it’s a team sport, my linemen blocked their butt off. Without them, I wouldn’t have three touchdowns.” Dan Raudabaugh nailed it when he explained Ferns position as selfless.

To close out the first half, Warren Smith would find Rashad Still in the endzone as time expired in the second quarter. After Mark Lewis converts the extra point, the score at halftime was the Philadelphia Soul, 27, and the Atlantic City Blackjacks, 14. Things are looking bleak for the Blackjacks at halftime, but Smith showing he is able to score against the defense was a confidence boost.

Kenny Spencer, who has been playing for his job in the past few weeks, kicks off to the Atlantic City Blackjacks and strikes the bottom iron. Redeeming an extra point miss at the beginning of the game, Spencer creates the net recovery with the kick off the iron and Philadelphia Soul defensive back, Torez Jones, recovers. The Soul starts the second half on offense. Spencer would also be perfect on extra point conversions for the rest of the evening. Clint Dolezel commented on Spencer’s play against the Blackjacks, “we were already up two scores and you steal that one. It made up for them scoring right at the last play of the half. Hats off to Kenny [Spencer]. He was around that bar all night long, we hit it three or four times, hit the south bar a bunch of times. Anytime you got a dangerous return man in Ings, you need that.” Dan Raudabaugh would throw a touchdown to Lonnie Outlaw soon after, extending the Soul lead to 34-14.

After the Philadelphia Soul stole possession with a net recovery, the Atlantic City Blackjacks would start on offense. Thomas Dover was able to record a sack on Randy Hippeard before he left due to a knee injury, and he was also able to record a sack on Warren Smith relatively quickly as well. The Soul’s pass rush had been maintained. Following this sack, a few plays later would be an interception thrown by Smith. Clint Dolezel spoke highly of the defense, “really good job of getting to those third and fourth downs. Again, I think that was a big part of the pressure, you can’t have one without the other in this game.” Defensive back, Dwayne Hollis remarked on his interception, “I kind of just read, it was more instinctive how he kind of set up his routes, so I kinda just jumped it and the quarterback threw it. I beat him to the spot and was able to make a play.” This was the second forced turnover of the day, including a net recovery by Torez Jones.

Quickly after, Dan Raudabaugh would throw his third touchdown pass of the day to Darius Prince, capitalizing on Dwayne Hollis’ interception. This was Raudabaugh’s final touchdown this game before being substituted for Danny Southwick. The Soul would rest Raudabaugh and Ferns after the third quarter. Raudabaugh commented on the offense, “it’s about being on the same page and being confident. We looked confident and we felt confident. I could feel it every drive. Scored every time we had [the ball], that’s crucial. It’s about playing off each other.” The Atlantic City Blackjacks would take back over on offense, but their drive would fizzle out again on another turnover on downs. James Romain would defend a pass to bring the Soul offense back on the field. Hollis commended his teammate’s play, “Everybody knows when they watch our film that James Romain is a game player and they try to kind of shy away from him, but they can’t because he’s always gonna’ be there.” The Soul would lead going into the final quarter, 41-14.

James Romain forces turnover on downs after defending a Warren Smith pass.

To echo what Dan Raudabaugh said the Philadelphia Soul had to do after the loss to the Washington Valor, I’ll quote Dwayne Hollis, “we came out and was playing with our hair on fire.” It was like Raudabaugh’s words were coming out of Hollis’ mouth. The chemistry was contagious this week throughout the team and it showed with this performance.

In the fourth quarter, the Philadelphia Soul began with possession after the turnover on downs was forced by James Romain. Danny Southwick made his debut this week at quarterback for the Soul and would convert a touchdown pass to Jordan Williams. Southwick finished with a 75% completion percentage and a touchdown. I asked particularly about Southwick and was met by praise from both Clint Dolezel and Dan Raudabaugh. Dolezel stated, “That was a great pass. It was in between coverages, good catch. Happy to see, he works hard.” Raudabaugh was happy for his backup, “If anyone studies this game harder than him, I’d love to meet him. He came in, threw some good shots and I know he’s been looking for his opportunity in Philly, worked with coach Dolezel, and he did a great job. I’m proud of him.” Raudabaugh would also comment about Williams on that scoring play, “Jordan Williams is fast. He’s really fast. That’s the type of stuff that, in this game, gets you open or your speed will open other guys up because they have to take more than one guy to cover you.”

Some adjustments were made on the offensive side of the football for the Atlantic City Blackjacks as they were finally able to crack the Philadelphia Soul defense. Warren Smith completed a touchdown pass to LaMark Brown. The Soul still led 48-21 and would take back over on offense to add more to the scoreboard. Southwick was able to drive the Soul back into scoring territory again and this time, it was Adrian Ferns backup, Brandon Cottom, who found the endzone. I also asked Adrian Ferns particularly about Cottom, “I’m so proud of my boy, he works his butt off at practice and just to see him transfer that to the field was great.” Clint Dolezel spoke about Cottom’s toughness and durability as a utility player on the team, “in the old school days, you would want a bunch of guys like Cottom when you would play both ways. Definitely pleased with him.” Cottom did line up on the defensive line against the Blackjacks as well, registering a roughing the passer call on Smith.

The Atlantic City Blackjacks would bounce back in this quarter with a rushing touchdown as Warren Smith would scramble. The final score of the game would be 54-29 as the Philadelphia Soul would improve to 4-4 and the Blackjacks would falter to 3-5. The Soul defense even closed on a good note as Sean Daniels collected his first sack of the game with the time running out on Smith. Dwayne Hollis commented on the constant Soul pass rush, “that’s big. Any DB [defensive back] will tell you, if you get that pressure it makes our life a lot easier.”