The Soul lost in dramatic fashion once again. This time to the in-state rival Pittsburgh Power by a score of 57-56 in front of 7.804 fans at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday.
The loss dropped the Soul to 6-7 on the season. The win for the Power (10-3) was its seventh in a row and clinched the franchise’s first 10-win season. The Power also earned its first season sweep of the Soul.
The final minutes of the game were back-and-forth, with Pittsburgh holding a 54-48 lead at the one-minute warning following a turnover on downs that gave Philadelphia the ball in favorable field position. The Soul capitalized on the opportunity courtesy of a three-yard touchdown pass from Dan Raudabaugh to V’Keon Lacey. Raudabaugh, of all people, scrambled out of the pocket and dashed into the end zone for the two-point conversion to put the team up 56-54 with 35 seconds remaining.
Following a V’Keon Lacey three-yard touchdown and a successful two-point conversion, the Soul regained the lead at 56-54 with half a minute to play.
The Power drove down to the Soul’s four-yard line and set up for a game-winning field goal that went through the uprights as time expired. The Power did face a fourth-and-six, but an offsides penalty from Soul defensive lineman T.J. Langley gave the Power up five yards and an automatic first, which meant more chances to drain the clock.
The Soul carried a 28-27 lead heading into halftime. On its opening possession in the second half, Raudabaugh tossed an interception. However, the pass from clearly bounced on the turf before Pittsburgh defender Al Phillips corralled it. The refs ruled it a turnover and possession to the Power.
Soul head coach Clint Dolezel immediately tossed the challenge flag without realizing his team had already used their two designated challenges. This resulted in a penalty that gave the Power even better field position despite the missed call that left Dolezel and Soul president Ron Jaworski livid from the sidelines.
"There were a lot of penalties and plays in the game that changed [the play]," said head coach Clint Dolezel. "I had to use my challenge flags in the first half so I didn’t have any left for two other calls that were wrong."
"After watching the replay on the screen, it clearly wasn’t an interception," said Raudabaugh. "But those refs catch a lot of gut from everybody. They have a really hard job."
Following the "turnover", Pittsburgh went up 33-28. The ensuing kickoff was muffed by the Soul and recovered in the end zone by the Power, giving the team a 40-28 lead.
After chipping away for nearly a quarter and a half, Philadelphia capitalized on a Rayshaun Kizer interception that led to a hard-nosed 14-yard touchdown run by Ross. The score gave Philadelphia a 48-47 lead with just half of the final quarter remaining.
Aside from the aforementioned interception, Raudabaugh put up some solid numbers to keep the Soul within striking distance of the Power throughout the second half. He completed 27 of 42 passes for 267 yards and threw six touchdowns. He and wide receiver Emory Sammons had tremendous chemistry as they connected 14 times for 144 yards and three scores.
On the other side, Pittsburgh quarterback Tommy Grady had no trouble picking apart the Soul’s secondary as he finished with only 197 yards, but tossed seven touchdowns. Wide receiver Prechae Rodriguez, who did not play last week, gained 144 yards and caught a game-high five touchdowns.
"They’re a good football team," said Dolezel. "Our division is a lot tougher than it has been in the past. They have a veteran quarterback and their defense gets after you."
Adding to the Soul's issues is the overall health of the team, which took a hit Saturday. Multiple players were hurt during the loss, including wide receiver Ryan McDaniel.
"As far as just the injuries alone, I thought we outplayed them in most aspects of the game," said Dolezel. "Mentally we didn’t play well at times."
Philadelphia will look to get back to .500 when they host the top team in the American Conference, Cleveland (10-1), next Saturday.