PHILADELPHIA – Get those brooms out for a clean sweep.
After suffering their first loss last week, the Soul (11-1) came out flying in their return to the Wells Fargo Center and won their final game over the Washington Valor (1-10). The 68-41 victory marked Philadelphia’s 15th straight victory at home and clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs and Arena Bowl XXX.
It looked like another tight one at halftime as Philadelphia led by a slim six-point margin, but the second-half provided some much needed juice provided by head coach Clint Dolezel. By forcing a few turnovers in the second frame, the Soul pulled away and thoroughly dominated the remainder of the game.
“Our defense played great,” Dolezel said. “We came out well in the second half. I asked the defense to allow no scores in the third quarter and have us be up by 20 and that’s exactly what we did. When we are playing at a high level, we are very tough to beat.”
Sporting the all-white uniforms and the flashy icy white helmets, the Soul played with plenty of swagger on Saturday night. It must have flowed through quarterback Dan Raudabaugh, as he threw out another MVP caliber performance. Raudabaugh finished the night completing 26 of 30 passes for 330 yards and nine touchdowns.
“Dan played great tonight,” Dolezel said. “He put the ball exactly where it needed to be. Again, we are very tough to beat when we can play like that.” The receivers once again fed off their quarterback’s energy, especially Shaun Kauleinamoku. “S.K.” finished with 10 catches for 126 yards and four touchdowns. Wide receivers Ryan McDaniel and Darius Reynolds with eight catches for 79 yards and one touchdown and six catches for 111 yards and two touchdowns respectively.
By the end of the third quarter, the Soul led 48-28 and would go on to outscore the Valor 20-7 in the final frame. With a 55-28 lead, Raudabaugh found Reynolds for a 32-yard touchdown to extend the lead. Shortly after, defensive star Joe Goosby caused a fumble and gave the ball back to the offense who proceeded to score again on a one-yard touchdown run by Mykel Benson.
With this victory, the Soul have a chance to run the table at home and bring home their second straight championship. Dolezel said after the game that home field is a big part in striving for as many wins as possible. “It’s big, it is why we play,” Dolezel said. “There are still some steps we have to take but that’s why we play because we would love to get this thing done here.”
That “thing” would be another Arena Bowl championship. “You want to be playing your best ball in the playoffs so it’s all about getting better and cleaning up the mistakes,” Raudabaugh said. “We’re going to keep it going and take it one day at a time.”