-courtesy of the Philadelphia Soul
PHOENIX – The Philadelphia Soul mounted a late fourth-quarter comeback, but were not able to overcome four turnovers and fell to the Arizona Rattlers in a re-match of ArenaBowl XXV, 66-52, in front of 8,524 fans at the US Airways Center on Saturday night.
Soul QB Dan Raudabaugh finished by connecting on 22-of-34 passes for 323 yards, five touchdowns and one interception in defeat.
“It is hard to have any success when we put ourselves in a hole with four turnovers,” said Soul head coach Clint Dolezel. “We did some things right, but the turnovers and missing extra points are unacceptable. We will identify areas and work to improve. It’s a long season and we will get better.”
AFL Playmaker of the Game, Tiger Jones, led Philadelphia's receiver with nine receptions for 169 yards and three touchdowns. Alvance Robinson had five catches for 97 yards receiving and 161 return yards, while Andrae Thurman added five receptions for 38 yards and Larry Brackins had three receptions for 19 yards.
Derrick Ross finished with 18 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns, but had two turnovers on fumbles inside the Rattlers end of the field.
Defensively, LaRico Stevenson had 5.5 total tackles and two pass breakups, Brandon Perkins added 4.5 total tackles, including a sack and Rayshaun Kizer added 3.5 total tackles and one pass breakup.
Offensive Player of the Game, Arizona’s QB Nick Davila connected 23-of-34 passes for 304 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions. WR Maurice Purify had 10 receptions for 141 yards and three touchdowns and Jared Perry had six receptions for 91 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.
The Soul (0-1) opened the scoring when Raudabaugh found Jones on a 33-yard, fourth-down scoring strike to give the Soul a 7-0 lead. Arizona (1-0) answered when Davila found Jared Perry on a 22- yard touchdown pass to even the score at 7-7.
Raudabaugh connected with Jones again on a 23-yard scoring connection, but a missed extra point made the score, 13-7. Davila and Purify hooked up on a 33-yard scoring play and the extra point gave the Rattlers the 14-13 lead with 3:34 remaining in the first. Raudabaugh then found Robinson for a 23-yard touchdown and a 19-14 lead to end the first quarter.
The Rattlers opened the second quarter when Davila found Kerry Reed on a four-yard touchdown pass to take a 21-19 lead. The Soul answered with Derrick Ross carried a group of Rattlers into the end zone for a five-yard rushing touchdown and regain a 25-21 lead.
Arizona got a one-yard touchdown run from Davila and a 28-yard touchdown connection from Davila to Purify, while Raudabaugh found Alvance Robinson on a 26-yard score to end the half with the Rattlers leading 35-32.
Arizona open the third quarter with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Davila to Perry. After a Ross fumble gave the ball back to Arizona, the Soul defense led by Brandon Perkins held the Rattlers to a FG and a 45-32 deficit.
Ross got the Soul back on the scoreboard when he plunged in for a one-yard score and narrowed the lead to 45-39 with 6:58 remaining in the third quarter. Arizona answered when Davila found Reed on a 13-yard touchdown to push the lead to 52-39 to end third quarter scoring.
In the fourth quarter, with the Soul knocking on the doorstep, Arizona’s Marcus Pittman stripped Ross and returned the fumble 44 yards for the score and a 59-39 lead.
The Soul got a third rushing touchdown from Ross, recovered an on-side kick and a passing touchdown to Jones to mount a late comeback and narrow the score to 59-52, but the Rattlers held on for a 66-52 victory.
The Soul have a bye week in Week 2, but will travel to face former coach Doug Plank and the Orlando Predators Saturday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m. ET at the Amway Arena.
Russell Athletic Offensive Player: Arizona’s Nick Davila
Riddell Defensive Player: Arizona’s Virgil Gray
J Lewis Small AFL Playmaker: Philadelphia’s Tiger Jones
Cutter’s Catch of the Game: Arizona’s Kerry Reed’s 13-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter.
Spalding Highlight of the Game: Arizona’s Marcus Pittman’s 44-yard fumble recovery and return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.