Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Soul defense makes presence felt

By Michael Rushton
The Phanatic Magazine

Philadelphia, PA - In Philadelphia, it just takes a visit by a team from Dallas to bring out the best.

The Soul's defense, which is ranked in the middle of the pack this season as far as touchdowns allowed goes, put on a show in front of its home faithful on Monday night in helping Philadelphia remain undefeated on the season with a 57-28 victory over the Dallas Desperados.

The win also handed the Desperados their first loss of the season in a battle that marked the latest point in a season two undefeated clubs met on the field. Philadelphia is now 9-0, while Dallas fell to 7-1.

Sure, Philadelphia's top-ranked offense was there, as quarterback Matt D'Orazio threw six touchdown passes and ran for another two, but it was the defense that grabbed the momentum early.

Defensive back Mike Brown intercepted Dallas quarterback Clint Dolezel's first pass of the game, and returned it 26 yards to the Desperado 14. After a D'Orazio TD run, the Soul defense halted Dallas on the Philadelphia nine-yard line on four straight plays, culminating with Bryan Save's sack.

That led to another Philly score, and Dallas failed to find the end zone in the first quarter. The Desperado's third possession, which began in the first frame and extended into the second, ended when Eddie Moten grabbed the first of his third interceptions on the day.

"Unbelievable, defense came out and just played lights out," said D'Orazio. "They prepared all week really well."

In a league where the turnover battle can make or break a team each week, the Soul defense notched four interceptions in all and helped stake the club to an early 21-0 lead.

Moten was without a doubt the Soul's most emotional player on the defensive side of the ball. The Dallas native seems to always bring his A-game when he battles the Desperados, and there is no Christmas cards being exchanged between himself and Dolezel.

The players have butted heads before, and Moten even went as far as to return his first interception into the chest of Dolezel, after the player was over of course.

Moten's three interceptions tied his own franchise record for most in a single game, set on May 6, 2006 versus, of course Dallas. He also posted a career-high 9 1/2 tackles in the win.

"That's my hometown and I just want to play good against those guys," Moten said of playing against Dallas. "I guess I've got to get extra pumped, extra motivated, bottom line I just want to come down with a win."

Philadelphia didn't come out of the Dallas game perfect though. Defensive back Brian Mance suffered a fractured left ankle and will miss the rest of the season. Brown, meanwhile, suffered a back ailment that has him day-to-day.

That forced recently re-signed wide receiver/linebacker Sean Scott, as well as standout wide out Chris Jackson, into a shorthanded secondary during the game.

"Like I said, I'm just proud of those guys," said head coach Bret Munsey. "They're battling. Whatever it takes, we've got guys stepping up and that's what it's all about."

The Soul's 57 points were nearly 16 points more than Dallas was allowing per game heading into the test, but was also nine points below the offense's average as well.

There is no doubt that the Soul make their money on offense, racking up points at an alarming pace. But the defense now has something to build on as well, and if that unit can carry this performance over into the later weeks, the Soul will be a force to be reckoned with.

"I kind of wanted to come out and keep it with offense," Moten said. "Offense has been playing great first half of the season. We've been playing all right, mediocre. I think we need to step our games up a little bit the second half of the season and get great, right along with the offense."

If anything, Monday's win will instill a confidence necessary week in and week out. But confidence isn't something Moten lacks.

When asked where the Soul go from here, he easily responded: "10-0, next week."

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