Sunday, March 09, 2008

Soul downs Rush

-Courtesy of the Philadelphia Soul

CHICAGO – Chris Jackson had nine catches for 126 yards with three touchdowns to lead the Philadelphia Soul over the Chicago Rush, 60-49 at All-State Arena.

Tony Graziani ended 21-of-32 for 271 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions for the Soul (2-0), who have scored 137 points in their first two games. Graziani also ran for a score and Larry Brackins added five catches for 66 yards with two TDs for Philadelphia, which won in Chicago for the first time in three tries.

Jackson did most of his damage in the second half after having just one catch for 22 yards in the first 30 minutes of play.

Mike Brown returned a kickoff for a touchdown and had two key second-half interceptions, as the Soul used those turnovers to break the game open.

Brown’s first pick came with the Soul lead 36-35 a little more than midway through the third quarter. He made an outstanding diving catch over his shoulder, beating Harrell to the ball.

Graziani and Jackson then cashed in on the turnover, connecting on a 14-yard TD pass with 1:14 left in the quarter for a 43-35 lead.

Then, Brown picked off Bonner a second time on his first pass attempt of the ensuing drive, giving the Soul the ball to start the fourth quarter and once again Graziani and Jackson hooked up for a TD and a 50-35 lead to secure the win.

The Soul take the field again in Sunday, March 16 when they return to the Wachovia Center to face the New York Dragons. Game time is 2 p.m. (et) and the first 10,000 fans to the game will receive a Soulmates poster courtesy of Suncoast Mortgage.

The duo of QB Sherdick Bonner and WR Damian Harrell led Chicago (1-1), which had won its opener. Bonner ended 27-of-47 for 306 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions, while Harrell tallied 10 catches for 104 yards with three TDs. Fullback Dan Alexander added three touchdowns, two receiving.

The Soul got going right away. After stopping the Rush on the opening possession of the game, it took only one play for Philly to get on the board as Graziani hit Brackins with a 34-yard touchdown pass that went along the left sideline.

Soul kicker Connor Hughes then missed the PAT, but the Soul forced a fumble by James Sadler on the ensuing kickoff and appeared poised for more points. However, an offensive pass interference call on Brackins called back potential points and Hughes missed a 32-yard field goal to keep the score 6-0.

Chicago took advantage and needed just four plays to take a 7-0 lead. Bonner hit Alexander with a 28-yard catch-and-run touchdown pass with just 1:20 left until the second quarter.

The first deficit of the season didn’t last long for the Soul. Philadelphia needed just five plays to go 37 yards with Clifton Smith taking a direct snap and barreling in from one yard out to put the Soul back in the lead 13-7 after the successful PAT by Hughes with 12:30 left in the half.

The key play of the drive was a screen pass from Graziani to Martin Bibla that brought the ball down to the one-yard-line.

Chicago, though, went back ahead on its next possession as Alexander scored on a one-yard run. A pair of defensive pass interference penalties aided the drive for the Rush, whose lead was once again short lived.

Brown returned the ensuing kickoff the length of the field for his second kickoff return TD of the season. Brown made just about everyone on the field miss, zig-zaging his way down the field for the score and a 20-14 edge with 5:11 left until the break.

The final minute of the half saw three scores. After Harrell caught an 18-yard TD pass with 55 ticks left to put Chicago ahead 21-20, the club tried an on-sides kick. But an off-sides call on the Rush gave the Soul the ball at the two-yard-line. On the first play, Graziani hit Brackins in the corner of the end zone to re-establish the lead for Philly.

However, the 47 seconds that were left gave the Rush enough time to get one more TD and go into the locker room with a 28-26 edge. This time Alexander took a five-yard pass from Bonner for the score with one tick left.

NOTES: Hughes had hit all 11 of his PATs in the season opener against Orlando…He is 2-of-3 this season in field goal attempts, having not attempted one in the opener…Soul WR Jamall Broussard, starting in place of the injured Kenny Henderson, ended with five catches for 44 yards.…Chicago native Gabe Nyenhuis recorded one sack, his second of the season. Nyenhuis gave away 37 tickets to family and friends for the game.

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