Extra points are supposed to be the easy part. Such was not the case for the Soul on Saturday night, when a pair of failed PAT attempts proved to be the difference in a 55-53 loss to the unbeaten Jacksonville Sharks.
Soul kicker Carlos Martinez was blocked following the first touchdown of the game (a 2-yard run by fullback Derrick Ross), and missed his next attempt when a holding penalty forced a longer try following an Andre Thurman touchdown grab late in the first quarter.
"It’s the little things," said head coach Clint Dolezel. "Every week it seems to be one thing or another. Right now there seems to be a lot of those little things, so we have to clean all of that up."
The unbeaten Jacksonville Sharks came into Philadelphia with hopes of maintaining their perfect record, but there was likely a bit of revenge in mind for the Sharks as well.
The Soul prevailed in all three of the teams’ 2012 meetings, including an 89-34 thumping in last year’s American Conference Championship game. On Saturday, however, the Sharks (6-0) got the best of the Soul (2-3).
Former Soul wide receiver Jeff Hughley paced the Sharks with 98 yards receiving and a touchdown, while Jeron Harvey made five catches — all for touchdowns. Jacksonville quarterback Bernard Morris finished with eight touchdown passes and 45 rushing yards.
Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh finished a game without an interception for the first time this season. He completed 24 passes on 37 attempts for 312 yards, but often tried to force passes to favorite target, Tiger Jones (9 catches, 148 yards), and rarely made second reads.
Ross moved up to third place on the AFL’s all-time rushing yards list in the losing effort. He reached the milestone on a 16-yard touchdown run in the second quarter when he bounced to the outside and reached the end zone untouched.
A foolish penalty sullied a great day for Ross, who scored three touchdowns including a tough 1-yard effort with 18 seconds remaining when he muscled through resistance at the goal line and cut the deficit to two. Ross felt that an extended touchdown celebration was in order, and continued his revelry at midfield while his team lined up for a two point conversion. The result was delay of game penalty, and the Soul were forced back further.
Larry Brackins couldn’t come up with Raudabaugh’s potentially game-tying fade pass in the corner of the end zone, and the Sharks hung on for the two-point win.
After the game, the jovial Ross was all smiles. He let out a victorious howl as he approached reporters before changing his tune to, “sorry for the loss.”
Asked about the delay of game penalty, Ross was only critical of the officials.
“They called the calls and we’ve got to go by them,” he said. “Just got to play the next play. No excuses. [The Sharks] won. They’re a great team, Jacksonville. We’ll get them.”