Philadelphia, PA – Reigning champions Philadelphia Soul improved to 6-0 as they soundly defeated the Cleveland Gladiators (1-5) by a score of 64-46. The Soul seemed determined to put last week’s lackluster first half behind them, as they came out firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball. An opening drive touchdown, followed by a James Romain interception, led to Ryan McDaniel’s 99th career touchdown and a commanding lead. Darius Reynolds passed 5,000 career yards receiving on the first completion of the game, and went on a tear in the 2nd quarter with three touchdowns.
Philadelphia’s defense, picked apart for 67 and 56 points their last two games, gave Cleveland’s star quarterback Arvell Nelson plenty to worry about. The constant defensive pressure that had been sorely missed recently made a return in the first half, as the Soul held Cleveland to only 13 first half points. Nelson, who started the game with the second highest AFL QB rating, threw for an impressive 282 yards, but his 3 interceptions ensured that the Gladiators were always behind the high-powered Soul offense.
Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh threw 8 touchdowns for the third straight game, as Philadelphia topped 60 points for the fourth straight time. Unlike last week where he seemed to be pressing in the first half, Raudabaugh was as cool as could be, picking apart the Cleveland backfield for all four quarters. Favorite target Darius Reynolds led the Soul with 85 yards and 3 touchdowns, with fellow wide-out Shaun Kauleinamoku finding the end zone 3 times as well.
After last week’s nail biter and shaky first half performance, tonight’s win shows that the Soul are still the team to beat in the AFL. Coach Clint Dolezel has his team playing solid football going into a tough match up in Washington next week. The Valor put up 31 points in the first half in their first meeting with the Soul, before Philadelphia shut them out in the second half en route to a 49-31 victory. But the 49 points is still the season low for the Soul, so coach Dolezel will want his offense clicking early on to prevent a similar comeback situation from having to happen in Washington.
Defensive Player of the Game: Joe Goosby PHI – Goosby had a stellar defensive game tonight, picking off Arvell Nelson twice. He also added a defensive two-point conversion by picking up a fumble and high-stepping his way into the Gladiator end zone.
Offensive Player of the Game: Darius Reynolds – On a night where he hit a milestone, Reynolds once again put in top-notch performance with 3 touchdowns. He continues to be the front man for the three headed receiving monster that Raudabaugh has at his disposal.
Most Valuable Player of the Game: Dan Raudabaugh PHI – Raudabaugh continues his recent tear with an 8 touchdown, 0 interception performance. His game pace and accuracy kept relentless pressure on a Cleveland team that was left always playing catch up.