After winning the first game by thirty-six points and carrying a +36 advantage in the AFL playoff aggregate scoring system, the Philadelphia Soul at the minimum just had to keep this game competitive. The Washington Valor had to keep the offensive momentum going to win by thirty-seven to upset the Soul and clinch their ArenaBowl bid. However, Philadelphia put the Valor behind by a larger deficit in the aggregate score, winning the second game of the AFL playoffs, 48-41. In front of 8,537 Soul fans in the Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia stayed undefeated in their playoff run. On August 11th, the Soul will travel to Albany to play the Albany Empire in ArenaBowl 32.
The offensive player of this game was Arvell Nelson of the Washington Valor. The quarterback threw four touchdowns and a total of three hundred and forty-four yards. Along with those passing statistics, Nelson has a rushing touchdown and a total of six rushing yards. The Philadelphia Soul offense was able to limit the damage and keep a ceiling on Nelson, forcing two interceptions and sacking him five times.
On the defensive side of the ball, the player of the game was Torez Jones of the Philadelphia Soul. This game, however, what he did on special teams highlighted his performance. Jones returned an onside kick for a touchdown in the second quarter then ended the half by intercepting Arvell Nelson. To begin the second half, the Albany Empire attempted another onside kick, recovered by Jones. Dan Raudabaugh commented on Jones’ performance after the game:
“Do your job. Do your one-eighth. If that’s your spot right there and we ask you to recover the ball, that’s your job. He’s done a great job.”
There was an added emphasis on the small details of a football game contributing to the winning result from Dan Raudabaugh. Torez Jones is one player that has remained constant on defense and on special teams for the Philadelphia Soul to stop opponents from adding possessions and extra scores.
Darius Prince was the most valuable player of the game that propelled the Philadelphia Soul to ArenaBowl 32. Of Dan Raudabaugh’s five touchdown passes, Prince caught three of them. He led the team with ninety-three receiving yards, which was more than half of Raudabaugh’s passing yards. This broke his streak of breaking one hundred yards, but the Philadelphia Soul secured their spot in ArenaBowl 32 with Prince’s production.
Philadelphia 76ers power forward and national treasure, Mike Scott, was the Philadelphia Soul honorary captain for this second playoff game against the Washington Valor under the aggregate scoring system. The Soul won the toss and chose to defer possession until the second half. To begin the game, Kenny Spencer would be kicking off to the Valor. On the first kickoff, the Philadelphia home-field advantage became very real when a fan collected the ball that went through the uprights and into the netting. Not only did the Soul special teams play relatively well, but the twelfth man did too!
Arvell Nelson and the Washington Valor took the field but were ultimately stopped on their first drive by the Philadelphia Soul defense. The turnover on downs acted as the Soul’s first turnover and provided the opportunity for Philadelphia to score first. Dan Raudabaugh completed a twenty-three-yard touchdown pass to Darius Prince to take the 7-0 lead. The Valor would answer back on the next drive when Nelson connected on a nine-yard touchdown pass to Doug McNeil. The Soul’s special teams limited the damage, taking advantage of a botched long snap on the extra point attempt. Philadelphia still led, 7-6, and came back out on offense. Adrian Ferns carried the ball down a short field after the Soul recovered an onside kick, scoring on a one-yard rush from the goal line. The end of the first quarter showed Philadelphia leading Washington, 14-6.
Continuing their possession from the first quarter, the Washington Valor worked the ball downfield and finished with a rushing touchdown, three yards out. On the ensuing kickoff, the Valor attempted another onside kick, this time returned for a touchdown by Torez Jones of the Philadelphia Soul. Kenny Spencer kicked the ball off to Washington and Dezmon Epps returned it fifty-six yards for a touchdown. It’s the second game where the Soul has allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown, which is why the twelfth man was so important on the opening kickoff. Philadelphia’s wide receiver, Lonnie Outlaw, would recover the next onside kick attempt by the Valor. Seemingly rewarding that, his number was dialed the next play by Dan Raudabaugh as Outlaw caught an eleven-yard touchdown pass, extending the lead to 28-20. Arvell Nelson navigated Washington back to the endzone, completing a seventeen-yard touchdown pass to Josh Reese. Jar Dangerfield’s two-point conversion attempt was good, converting with a rush. Another onside kick was recovered by the Soul and with the short field, Raudabaugh completed a seven-yard touchdown pass to Adrian Ferns. Philadelphia led the Valor, 35-28, with fifty seconds remaining in the first half. To make sure his team stayed ahead, Jones intercepted Nelson to end Washington’s attempt at tying the game.
Back at it again to begin the second half, Torez Jones recovered his second onside kick from the Washington Valor. However, with the short field, the Philadelphia Soul couldn’t get into the endzone and turned the ball over on downs. The Valor defense began hot and Arvell Nelson capitalized, completing a thirty-seven-yard touchdown almost immediately to Reggie Gray. Washington again attempted the onside kick after scoring, but Lonnie Outlaw recovered his second of the game. On fourth down, Dan Raudabaugh completed a four-yard touchdown to Darius Prince, extending the lead to 41-35. The Valor came back out on offense briefly as Nelson connected on one play with Dezmon Epps on a forty-five-yard touchdown. Another onside kick was attempted, but this time recovered by Washington. The extra possession earned was for nothing as the Soul forced another turnover on downs. At the end of the third quarter, the game was tied, 41-41.
The final quarter of play was mostly a defensive showcase for both teams. The Philadelphia Soul continued their possession from the third quarter over to the fourth quarter but turned the ball over on downs. What followed was a five-minute possession from the Washington Valor that finished with a turnover on downs after Dwayne Hollis stopped Reggie Gray four yards short of a first down. The Soul would reverse their luck on the next drive as Dan Raudabaugh completed a thirty-three-yard touchdown to Darius Prince. Philadelphia took the lead, 48-41, which was the final score! The Valor did have an opportunity to drive downfield and tie the game, but Arvell Nelson was intercepted by Hollis.
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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.