On the road this week, the Philadelphia Soul traveled to Ohio to face the Columbus Destroyers. For the Soul, this was the newest challenge to continue their quest to make the playoffs and regain a winning record. For the Destroyers, this was an opportunity to get back into the win column and play spoiler to the Soul’s playoff plans. The Soul won this previous matchup in Philadelphia and the Destroyers were playing for redemption. In front of 7,604 at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, the Soul once again defeated the Destroyers, 42-35.
Speaking to the players of the Philadelphia Soul and Soul head coach, Clint Dolezel, after the week eight win against the Atlantic City Blackjacks, the big take-home message was that “any team can beat any team” in the Arena Football League. Adrian Ferns said that last week. Dan Raudabaugh echoed that last week, acknowledging that he knows the Columbus Destroyers were a hungry football team. Dwayne Hollis last week mentioned that he uses the games on the road as “motivation” and “likes to be booed.” He and the rest of the Soul defense certainly played with that swagger this week.
This game was played a bit closer by the Columbus Destroyers in front of their home crowd, alternating scores the entire game until the Philadelphia Soul scored last on a Dan Raudabaugh touchdown pass to Jordan Williams, followed by a two-point conversion pass from Raudabaugh to Lonnie Outlaw. Varmah Sonie was having himself quite a day on defense for the Destroyers, intercepting Raudabaugh twice and forcing a fumble. His defensive effort wasn’t quite enough, as the Soul defense intercepted Grant Russell three times and sacking him once. While Russell did outscore Raudabaugh in this quarterback duel, it was the defense that clamped down to close out Columbus for a win. As of this moment, the Soul is now third place in the overall AFL standings, ahead of the Baltimore Brigade and behind the Washington Valor, who are both 5-4 in 2019.
The Philadelphia Soul began the game on offense after the Columbus Destroyers deferred to the second half. The Destroyers almost forced an early turnover on downs, but Varmah Sonie’s pass interference on Darius Reynolds set up Adrian Ferns for a rushing touchdown. Kenny Spencer converted the extra point, up 7-0. The Destroyers would get the opportunity to score and as it looked like the Soul would force a turnover on downs with their backs against the goal line. Grant Russell completed a one-yard touchdown pass to Paul Browning. Craig Peterson converted the extra point. The first quarter would end, 7-7.
In the second quarter, the Philadelphia Soul would start with possession. Dan Raudabaugh converted a fourth down with a pass to Jordan Williams. To finish the drive, Raudabaugh threw a four-yard touchdown to Darius Prince. The Columbus Destroyers moved the ball downfield efficiently on their next possession. Grant Russell punctuated the drive with a six-yard touchdown to Fabian Guerra. Raudabaugh and the Soul clearly took exception to that drive and answered with a quick score of their own, finding BJ Bunn for a thirty-nine yard touchdown pass. Kenny Spencer would then miss his first extra point attempt of the game.
The Philadelphia Soul would attempt an onside kick, but after an illegal-touching penalty on James Romain, the Columbus Destroyers would take over in scoring range. Grant Russell located Fabian Guerra again for another touchdown, this time for nine yards. The Destroyers would take the lead briefly after converting an extra point, 21-20, with three minutes left in the half. The Soul would have a chance to take the lead back before half time. Varmah Sonie forced a fumble, but BJ Bunn would recover it and the Soul would stay on offense. Lonnie Outlaw caught a touchdown with eleven seconds left in the first half to give the Soul another lead. Kenny Spencer converted his extra point and at half time, the Soul led the Destroyers, 27-21.
Beginning the second half, the Columbus Destroyers would receive the kickoff with the opportunity to take advantage of a missed extra point by Philadelphia Soul kicker, Kenny Spencer. Grant Russell would lead his offense into scoring position but threw an interception to James Romain in the endzone. Dan Raudabaugh led the Soul offense back onto the field to try and extend the lead but would turn the ball back over on an interception to Varmah Sonie in the endzone. The Destroyers had a second chance to take back the lead and would do so on this drive, as Russell threw an eight-yard touchdown to Paul Browning. Craig Peterson converted the extra point. Raudabaugh had an opportunity to right his previous drive but would make the same mistake. Sonie intercepted Raudabaugh again to give Columbus control starting the final quarter of the game with the lead, 28-27.
As the tide changes, the Columbus Destroyers start the fourth quarter with an opportunity to stretch their lead against the visiting Philadelphia Soul. Grant Russell was intercepted by James Romain to shut down the Destroyers offense and give life back to the Soul. BJ Bunn scored a rushing touchdown and Kenny Spencer converted the extra point. The Soul take back the lead, 34-28. Playing from behind with twelve minutes left, Russell would throw another one-yard touchdown to Fabian Guerra. The Destroyers led the Soul, 35-34, with five minutes left to play. Philadelphia had to convert on this drive to improve to 5-4 this season and still be in the playoff mix. They would do just that on one play, as Jordan Williams caught a forty-five-yard touchdown pass. The Soul would go for a two-point conversion, which was successful from a Dan Raudabaugh completion to Lonnie Outlaw. The Soul led, 42-35, with three minutes to play. The Destroyers recovered a Soul onside kick, but this time, Dwayne Hollis would intercept Russell. The Hollis interception sealed the victory for Philadelphia.
Continued on the page below.