Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Soul embarrassed by Power, back into postseason

Soul head coach Clint Dolezel. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Soul head coach Clint Dolezel. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

The Soul entered the final week of the regular season with a chance to clinch a spot in the Arena Football League postseason for the third consecutive season.

Not only did they fail to capitalize on that opportunity, they were flat out embarrassed.

The Soul were trounced by the Pittsburgh Power, 64-34, at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh and finished the 2014 season 9-9. Even worse, the loss put the Soul in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

But a 56-49 victory by the Cleveland Gladiators over the Tampa Bay Storm gave the Soul No. 4 seed in the American Conference and a date with the top-seeded Gladiators next week.

If the Storm (8-10) had defeated the Gladiators (17-1), the Storm would have pulled into a tie with the Soul for the playoff spot, a tiebreaker they would have won.

But the Gladiators pulled out yet another win on their improbable magic carpet ride through the AFL in 2014.

The Soul have played the Gladiators in two hotly-contested games this season with both games being decided on the final play of regulation. The Gladiators found a way to slip by the Soul on both occasions.

Although the Soul have everything seemingly working against them — two losses to Cleveland and an embarrassing loss to Pittsburgh to end the season — they do have postseason experience on their side, as they are the two-time defending American Conference champions.

As for Saturday, the Soul were in the game early, as they trailed the Power 13-7 after a touchdown pass from quarterback Dan Raudabaugh to wide receiver Tiger Jones.

From there, things went downhill for Philadelphia. The Power defense shut down the Soul offense and took advantage of the extra opportunities to take command of the game.

Before the Soul knew it, they were down 41-7 in the third quarter. The bleeding finally stopped after a one-yard rushing touchdown from fullback Derrick Ross, but the competitive phase of this contest was already over.
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