Monday, April 09, 2007

Soul's undefeated run comes to an end

By Michael Rushton
The Phanatic Magazine

Philadelphia, PA - The Philadelphia Soul played turnover roulette with the Georgia Force. And for the first time this season, they lost.

The Soul committed three costly turnovers, and failed to halt the Force after each one on the way to a 57-49 defeat, the first for Philadelphia this season in five games.

Philadelphia’s first turnover, a fumble by Sean Scott, led to Georgia taking a 14-point lead early in the second frame. A Tony Graziani interception marked the Soul’s third turnover, and led to a 48-28 deficit late in the third.

“When you play big games, in the NFL, whatever it is, the turnovers are what it’s all about,” said Soul head coach Bret Munsey. “We turned the ball over too many times tonight to get a win against a good football team."

Despite the turnovers, the Soul stayed in the game until the end when they could have easily folded.

A 28-yard touchdown catch by Chris Jackson with 9:16 left on the clock gave the Force a two-touchdown edge. Graziani’s interception followed, and a short scoring run by John Ritcher gave Georgia a 48-28 edge after a missed kick by Xavier Beitia.

The Soul were unable to stop Jackson all night. The Georgia wide out, who entered the week as one of the league’s leading receivers, made eight catches for 124 yards with two scores.

Desperately needing a score, Graziani marched the Soul down the field to the two, where Idris Price took it the rest of the way on the ground to make it 48-35 as time expired in the third.

The momentum stayed with the Soul, as Georgia quarterback Chris Greisen tried to go for pay dirt from his own 15, only to see his long pass fall into the arms of Johnnie Harris in the end zone for the Force’s first turnover of the game.

Two plays into the resulting possession, Graziani hit a wide-open Charles Pauley for a 45-yard strike down the middle of the field, cutting it to six early in the fourth.

With the crowd back into the contest, the Soul defense tired to put the clamps on the Force. However, the Philly defense failed to come up with a big stop, a problem that plagued the club all game, and Greisen found a streaking Bergeron down the field.

Bergeron, who ended with eight receptions for 182 yards and four scores, momentarily hauled in the catch and fumbling the ball into the end zone off the side wall. However, the Force wide out recovered in the end zone and was given the touchdown to make it 54-42, with Beitia again missing the kick.

The play drew a negative reaction from the fans and majority owner Jon Bon Jovi, who made an obscene gesture after the call.

“He fumbled in the end zone, he recovered the ball. I reacted to something I didn’t know,” Bon Jovi said after the game. “The Georgia Force are a class act. The turnovers killed us. They have a hell of a football team, and a great coach. I apologize for the middle finger thing. I didn’t know the rule, simple as that."

Though the Soul would eventually get within five after a rushing score by Price made it 54-49 with 3:48 to go, the Philly defense again failed to come up with the big stop.

The Force iced the game on a Beitia field goal with 11.2 ticks to go, resulting in the final score.

Graziani, who threw for 266 yards and three touchdowns, had one last shot at the end zone as time expired, but his throw went into the back of the end zone.

The setback ruined a possible undefeated showdown next week with the Dallas Desperados, who are 6-0 on the season after knocking off Columbus this week.


Anonymous said...

The obscene gesture was great!

Anonymous said...

Sorry about your loss last night. It had to hurt. Good luck next week with Dallas!