PHILADELPHIA – It turns out a banner being raised was not the only bright spot at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Philadelphia Soul, who are looking to win their second consecutive world title and third in franchise history, dominated the Baltimore Brigade 69-34 in the first home game of the season to improve to 3-0.
Head Coach Clint Dolezel felt the team played their best game on the young 2017 season, even if it was not 100 percent.
“I’d say we played about 80 percent,” Dolezel said. “With some of the penalties, we just couldn’t get out of our way. It’s early in the year stuff so we will clean that up.”
Reining MVP quarterback Dan Raudabaugh continued to make his case for yet another award. The eighth year signal caller threw for five touchdowns on the night and now has 15 through three games.
“I thought we played well but there were also times where we didn’t execute,” Raudabaugh said. “I’m proud of our guys though. We fought hard and earned the win.”
As it seems every week, one Soul receiver might be challenging for league MVP.
Wide receiver Ryan McDaniel had himself a ‘banner’ night, pun intended, to celebrate pre game festivities. McDaniel finished the night with all five touchdowns from Raudabaugh.
You read that right. McDaniel did in fact reel in five touchdowns.
“We felt good man,” McDaniel said. “Everything was clicking tonight and it was working real well. Those Philly fans make a difference.”
“He played terrible but I am just kidding,” Raudabaugh said. “I’m blessed to have him and all four of those guys catching the ball.”
“It’s basically whoever gets covered in zone is who is going to get the ball,” Dolezel said. “It can be a different guy every week but that is what our receivers do and he had a really good night.”
Baltimore, who is playing their first season in the Arena Football League, received a rough rookie welcoming at the hands of the veteran Soul.
It almost looked too easy from the get go for Philadelphia. On the first play from scrimmage for the Soul, fullback Mykel Benson ran the ball with authority for a 15-yard touchdown to set the tone.
The Brigade had a chance to even the score on their next drive but fullback Rory Nixon was stuffed at the Soul six-yard line on fourth down. Later in the first quarter, wide receiver Darius Reynolds recovered a loose kickoff in the end zone and gave the Soul a 21-0 lead.
The Brigade looked to be finished but answered back with three of the next four scores. Rookie quarterback Shane Carden tossed three touchdowns to quiet the Soul fans in attendance.
Benson gave Philadelphia some much needed energy with a second touchdown to close out the first half with a 35-21 lead.
With a touchdown clinic in the second half, including a pick six by defensive back Dwayne Hollis, the Soul ran away with the game, as Baltimore could not overcome the mistakes.
By the game’s conclusion, the Soul gave the fans a nice display that truly represented a championship mentality.
The team was honored pregame for their 2016 Arena Bowl championship. Among the honorees were ownership members Jhari Evans of the Green Bay Packers, former NFL wide receiver Marques Colston, former Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil, and legendary Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski.
“We ended the week with a good win,” Raudabaugh said. “It’s a surreal feeling. You have to win in Philly and it was an awesome thing to do because this is stuff you dream about.”
Next Friday, Philadelphia will travel to Cleveland to take on the Gladiators where their perfect record will be on the line.
“They’re obviously playing better after their win last night,” Dolezel said. “We’ll have our hands full because they always play us tough. It is always a battle.”