Coming off the heels of the biggest team loss of 2019 to close out the regular season, the Philadelphia Soul had to jump start their post-season with a win. It was the first game of two against the Washington Valor, a team that the Soul had yet to beat in 2019. In the Arena Football League, to get to the ArenaBowl, playoff teams have to outscore their opponents through two games. This aggregate scoring style currently gives the advantage to Philadelphia and the Albany Empire. The Soul currently has a +36 points advantage against the Valor in the 2019 AFL playoffs.
In the first game of the AFL playoffs, the Philadelphia Soul defeated the Washington Valor at the Capital One Arena in front of 6,942 fans in Washington D.C. The final score was 69-33. The most valuable player of this game, Dan Raudabaugh, threw for two hundred eighty-four yards, six touchdowns, and one interception. The offensive player of the game, Darius Reynolds, lined back up at wide receiver after playing linebacker for the large majority of the season. Reynolds looked like he didn’t miss a game at wide receiver, catching eight passes for one hundred fifteen yards, and three touchdowns. The defensive player of the game, James Romain, had six and a half tackles, three interceptions returned for a total of seventy-nine yards, and broke up two passes. The Soul were clicking on all cylinders and the Valor just simply weren’t.
At the coin toss, the Washington Valor deferred, receiving after the first half. The Philadelphia Soul would begin the game on offense, immediately in the driver’s seat on the road to the ArenaBowl. Dan Raudabaugh and the Soul offense did their job on the opening drive, moving the ball downfield to the goal line. Adrian Ferns finished the drive with a rushing touchdown, giving Philadelphia a 6-0 lead. After a touchback, the Valor offense took the field to answer the Soul’s touchdown run. Washington almost turned the ball over on downs but Philadelphia defensive end, Sean Daniels, was caught offside. Arvell Nelson would finish the drive with a three-yard touchdown to Reggie Gray to give the Valor a 7-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
After the Washington Valor took the lead, the Philadelphia Soul would go back on offense. The Soul’s drive extended into the second quarter where Dan Raudabaugh would connect with Darius Reynolds for a fourteen-yard touchdown pass, taking the lead back, 13-7. The Valor would strip about nine minutes off of the clock on a drive that ended in a turnover on downs when Arvell Nelson couldn’t complete his pass to Jar Dangerfield. As the Philadelphia defense did its job, Adrian Ferns would continue to do his as he found the end zone again. This time, Ferns rushed for a three-yard touchdown, extending the Soul lead to 20-7. This would be the score at halftime, giving Philadelphia a two-possession lead.
As mentioned earlier, the Washington Valor would receive at the beginning of the second half. It seemed that the Valor had tightened up on offense after Arvell Nelson threw a thirty-two-yard touchdown to Chris Duvalt. On the extra point, Sean Daniels would block the kick, keeping the Soul ahead 20-13. The next possession for the Philadelphia Soul lasted one play when Dan Raudabaugh dialed up Darius Prince for a twenty-six-yard touchdown. The Soul decided to “run it back” on offense after Torez Jones secured their onside kick. Two plays later, Raudabaugh this time found Lonnie Outlaw for a touchdown, extending the lead to 34-13. Washington had to simplify things on offense again, so Nelson would go back to Reggie Gray on third and goal for a seven-yard touchdown. Philadelphia would still be up two possessions, 34-20, with intentions to make it a three-possession game. The Soul did just that on another quick drive. Raudabaugh again exploited the Valor’s defense to locate Darius Reynolds for a twenty-eight-yard touchdown. At the end of the third quarter, Philadelphia led Washington, 41-20.
As the Philadelphia Soul did going from the first quarter to the second, the Washington Valor got back to work on offense in the third quarter and extended their drive into the fourth. A defensive pass interference from James Romain put the Valor in scoring position early in the fourth quarter. Arvell Nelson capitalized with a three-yard touchdown pass to Doug McNeil, making the score 41-27 in favor of the Soul. Washington was not able to adjust to Dan Raudabaugh and the Philadelphia offense. On another two-play drive, BJ Bunn this time converted a three-yard rush for a touchdown after the Soul worked down a short field. Philadelphia led 48-27.
The Washington Valor had to respond, but on the first play, Nelson was intercepted by Romain. One play later, this time from the Soul, Raudabaugh would be intercepted by Marrio Norman. Three plays later, again by Washington, Nelson was intercepted by Romain for his second of the game. After a few rounds of “hot potato,” Raudabaugh and the Philadelphia offense began in scoring position. Darius Reynolds caught a one-yard touchdown from Raudabaugh to extend the lead to 55-27. To keep the game close due to the aggregate scoring method of the AFL playoffs, Nelson took off on a seventeen-yard scramble to the two-yard line but was hit by Brandon Cottom and fumbled. Cottom also recovered the fumble for the Soul. With about a minute left to play in the game, Raudabaugh threw a thirty-nine-yard touchdown to Darius Prince. Philadelphia led, 62-27.
On the ensuing kickoff, Dezmon Epps returned the kickoff for fifty-five yards and a touchdown. Nelson Arvell’s two-point conversion pass was incomplete as the Philadelphia Soul still led 62-33. That would be the last touchdown for the Washington Valor, who would next attempt an onside kick to make the game closer. That plan would backfire in a big way when Torez Jones returned the onside kick for an eleven-yard touchdown. The Soul would win the game, 69-33. The last play of the game is where James Romain would get his third interception of the night against Arvell.
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Eric is a University of Delaware graduate with a degree in English. While in school, he began writing for different publications such as The Highlight Network, Amps and Greenscreens, and he did color commentary for the University of Delaware Men’s and Women’s lacrosse teams throughout the 2013 season as an alumni. Prior to being featured with Philly Sports Network, he began a pro-wrestling podcast with a childhood friend called the Totally Over Podcast. As an avid sports die-hard for all things Philadelphia, Eric is also a proud supporter of West Virginia University.