The Philadelphia Soul were coming off a heartbreaking loss in the previous week that saw a 17-point lead vanish in the final minute. That result fueled the Soul as they throttled the San Antonio Talons, 76-40, to improve to 6-5 on the season and a perfect 6-0 at the Wells Fargo Center.
“Last week’s loss was very bitter and we had a long time to think about it,” said head coach Clint Dolezel. “We knew we needed to come out fast. We did exactly what we wanted to in terms of jumping on them early.”
A loss like that, especially to one of the AFL’s best teams, often leaves a team doubting themselves. That was not the case for the Soul when taking the field against a San Antonio squad that has now dropped five straight contests.
Philadelphia used the first quarter as a way to make a statement not only to San Antonio, but to the entire league. When the horn sounded after 15 minutes, the Soul held an impressive 28-0 lead that saw touchdowns come via their offense, defense and special teams.
Wide receiver Antony “Tiger” Jones caught two touchdowns, including the team’s first score on their opening series, as quarterback Dan Raudabaugh went a 6-6 with 92 yards and two touchdowns in the opening quarter. On defense, the Soul forced two turnovers with Rayshaun Kizer returning an interception for a score. Philadelphia even found the endzone on a fumble recovery following a kickoff that bounced off the nets and eventually into the hands of Joe Goosby.
That opening frame set the tone for the entire game.
“We started out fast on offense, defense and special teams,” said Dolezel. “Anytime you can do that against a team with one win under their belt they get that saying, ‘here we go again,’ and that’s what we needed to do.”
Raudabaugh looked confident all game when dropping back against a Talons’ unit that came in allowing 56.6 points per game. The veteran passer finished 14-17 with 224 yards and five touchdowns before being pulled in the fourth quarter.
“Anytime our line is playing well, which is normally always, I’m pretty confident back there,” said Raudabaugh. “It’s my job to get the ball in the hands of the playmakers and they were getting the job done tonight.”
His replacement, Bryan Randall, threw a 35-yard touchdown on his first throw of the game. He amassed 78 yards and two touchdowns on four completions in limited action.
Without the assistance of leading receiver Ryan McDaniel for the second straight week, Raudabaugh and Randall spread the ball around to all their weapons. The aforementioned Jones had four scores for 118 yards. He has now caught a touchdown in 13 straight games and moved into 10th on the all-time receiving yards list. Emery Sammons caught two touchdowns-- one from each quarterback. Fellow receiver V’Keon Lacey also had a score.
“We got a lot of weapons,” said Jones. “Teams will have to respect us a lot more going forward.”
On the ground, the league’s all-time leading rusher, Derrick Ross, found the endzone twice and sits just one touchdown shy of the AFL’s career rushing touchdown record of 127.
After shutting the Talons’ offense out in the first quarter, the Soul’s defense continue to play stout for the remaining 45 minutes. They forced three turnovers and multiple turnovers on downs en route to one of their best performances after coming in allowing 56 points to their opponents.
“They played like the hair was on fire,” said Dolezel. “We got a lot of pressure. The secondary did a great job of making them hold it just a little longer so it was a good mix from front to back.”
Philadelphia will travel to Tampa Bay for their third meeting against the Storm on June 7. The series is 1-1 with both teams winning at home.