Monday, May 21, 2007

Black magic; Soul hex VooDoo

By Michael Rushton
Phanatic Magazine

Philadelphia, PA - Sparked by the return of quarterback Tony Graziani, the Philadelphia Soul turned in a total team effort to pound the New Orleans VooDoo, 78-34, to halt their franchise-record losing streak at six games.

The 78 points scored by the Soul were a team record, eclipsing the previous mark of 75 set on February 19, 2006 against the New York Dragons.

Returning from a dislocated left shoulder that had sidelined him since Week 7, Graziani completed 7-of-15 passes for 81 yards and four touchdowns. More importantly, Graziani’s return to the field instilled a confidence that the Soul lost during their losing stretch.

“We played well on defense but I think the whole mindset of him (Graziani) being in the huddle and practicing and the belief of the whole teams was the difference here tonight,” head coach Bret Munsey said.

“I’m a little bit cocky or brash and I think the guys kind of feed of that a little bit,” said Graziani. “I love it. I love being the guy.”

It didn’t take Graziani long to get comfortable in terms of finding the end zone. The signal caller completed 4-of-8 passes in the opening quarter, but three of them were touchdowns, each to a different receiver.

That included one to wide out Larry Brackins, who had missed the last four games due to a pulled hamstring, with 18 seconds left that staked the Soul to a 20-13 edge.

Graziani wasn’t a definite to play tonight, but after a week’s worth of practice that produced no setbacks, the quarterback was ready to go.

It’s no surprise that the Soul snapped their losing streak as they begin to get fully healthy. In addition to the return of Graziani and Brackins, defensive back Mike Brown played his second straight game since returning from injury. He looked strong tonight, posting eight tackles while returning a pair of kicks for 53 yards.

Philadelphia, which elected to be announced before the game as an entire team, pulled together to dominate the second quarter and put the game away early. The Soul found the end zone three times in the frame while keeping the VooDoo off the scoreboard to stretch their edge to 41-13 by the break.

After a New Orleans punt, Philadelphia charged down to the nine-yard line before Graziani, who Munsey admitted probably wasn’t 100 percent, hit J.J. McKelvey for the short score.

Then the defense took over.

First, the Soul line got pressure on New Orleans quarterback Andy Kelly, with Dwayne Missouri sacking Kelly and eventually recovering a loose ball in the end zone for a 34-13 Soul edge with 7:42 left in the second.

Then it was Eddie Moten’s turn. With the VooDoo threatening late in the quarter, Moten grabbed a tipped pass at the goal line and took it the distance for his league-leading third interception returned for a touchdown.

It was Moten’s first interception since Week 8, and the back would again end a New Orleans drive before the half with his second pick of the game and eighth of the season.

The defense continued to keep the VooDoo off the scoreboard for most of the third quarter. In fact, New Orleans didn’t find the end zone until Steve Bellisari’s one-yard touchdown run with 1:44 left in the stanza. The score pulled New Orleans to within 57-20.

With the game out of reach, Leon Murray came in and completed an eight-yard touchdown pass to Brackins with 38 ticks left in the third as the Soul rolled to victory. Brackins ended with three catches, all touchdowns.

“If we can keep him focused, that kids an unbelievable football player,” Munsey said of Brackins.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

More Herpen!