Monday, June 23, 2014

Gladiators edge Soul with Hail Mary

PHILADELPHIA – A last-second, 47-yard, Hail Mary pass from Shane Austin to Dominic Goodman sent the Philadelphia Soul (6-8) home with another heart-breaking loss to the Cleveland Gladiators, 69-68 in front of 8,033 fans at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night. 

Austin tied a League record with 11 touchdowns on the evening.

“We were in position to win tonight,” said Soul head coach Clint Dolezel of the final play.  “We knocked the ball down but they made the catch – it is as simple as that.  Luck has not been on our side, but we have to keep grinding to make it to the playoffs.”

Philadelphia’s offense was led by Derrick Ross who had 19 rushing yards for three touchdowns.  Leading the receiving corps was Tiger Jones with six receptions for 139 yards and two touchdowns.  V’Keon Lacey also helped by putting up six receptions for 48 yards and a touchdown, while Markee White had four catches for 38 yards and a touchdown.  Emery Sammons finished with three receptions for 25 yards and one touchdown.

Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh finished the night by completing 19-of-27 passes for 250 yards and five touchdowns and one interception.

Defensively the Soul was led by Riddell Defensive Player of the Game, James Romain who had 7.0 total tackles and two pass breakups.  Also for Philadelphia, LaRico Stevenson had 5.0 total tackles.  Both Calvin Fance and Brandon Perkins each had a sack for the night.

Cleveland’s offense was led by Russell Athletic Offensive Player of Game, Shane Austin as he completed 26-of-040 passes for 409 yards and a franchise-record setting 11 touchdowns.  Dominick Goodman had 10 receptions for 168 yards and three touchdowns, while J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game, Thyron Lewis tallied eight receptions for 172 yards and four touchdowns.

Gladiator defense was led by Marrio Norman with 7.0 total tackles.  Both Joe Phinisee and Anthony Degrate had 5.0 total tackles for Cleveland.  Randy Colling had the only sack of the night for the Gladiators.

The first quarter kicked off with a Gladiators touchdown, and a missed extra point.  Jones caught Austin’s pass for 23 yards three minutes into the game.  The Soul responded shortly after when Sammons caught Raudabaugh’s 20-yard pass.  New kicker, Jon Striefsky also missed the extra point and with 10:51 left in the first, Philadelphia and Cleveland were tied 6-6.  Four minutes later Cleveland’s Goodman scored on a 17-yard reception from Austin, before Pettrey missed another extra point.  Tiger Jones scored an easy touchdown, being unmarked and able to catch Raudabaugh’s long 40-yard throw.  Striefsky’s extra point kick was good and at 4:19 the Soul were leading 13-12.  With 20 seconds left in the first, Soul defense held strong as Fance forced a fumble that was recovered by Bryan Robinson in the Gladiators for a Soul touchdown, and at the end of the quarter, Philadelphia led Cleveland 20-12.

Soul defense continued to hold strong in the beginning of the second quarter, holding off the Gladiators to third down before they scored.  Austin’s 47-yard pass proved successful when Lewis’ touchdown catch put the Soul only ahead by two points.  Jones got on the board again and after a penalty, Striefsky still gained the extra point from 28 yards out.  Jones’ touchdown put the Soul up 27-18 with 9:20 left in the first half.  Cleveland’s Lewis also got on the board again after connecting with Austin for a 40-yard catch and reducing Philadelphia’s lead to 27-25.  Soul’s Little quickly answered with a 55-yard kick return touchdown.  With less than a minute to go in the half, Gladiator Collin Taylor caught a nine-yard pass from Austin to score, and once again Pettrey missed the extra point, his team trailing by three points.  Ross furthered that lead for Philadelphia after rushing a yard for a touchdown, followed by another successful extra point kick for Striefsky.  At the end of the first half, the Soul led the Gladiators 41-31.

The third quarter started off slow for Philadelphia, with an interception for Raudabaugh.  Cleveland’s Lewis had another touchdown, catching Austin’s 14-yard pass.  Pettery was successful with his extra point kick, and with 10:51 left in the third, the Gladiators trailed the Soul 41-38.  Ross made it 48-38 after rushing one yard.  The Gladiator’s Goodman scored his second touchdown of the night after receiving Austin’s 17-yard pass.  With 6:03 remaining in the quarter, Cleveland trailed Philadelphia by four.  The third quarter ended with the Soul leading the Gladiators 48-44.

Ross’ 1-yard touchdown run kicked off the fourth quarter, 12:34 minutes remaining, putting the Soul up 55-46.  Cleveland’s Taylor received a 7-yard pass from Austin to answer Ross’ touchdown.  A failed two-point conversion kept the Soul in the lead, 55-50 with 8:09 left in the game.  Philadelphia added 12 points to their lead when Lacey caught Raudabaugh’s 7-yard pass.  The Soul led the Gladiators 62-50 with less than three minutes remaining in the game.  Cleveland responded when Taylor received a 2-yard pass from Austin, cutting Philadelphia’s lead to 62-57.   The Gladiators took the lead with 33 seconds remaining in the game after Austin connected with Lewis again.  Their two-point conversion attempt failed, and with under a minute remaining in the game, Cleveland led Philadelphia 63-62.  The Soul answered when White caught Raudabaugh’s 3-yard pass with two seconds left in the game, making it 68-63.  Cleveland used those last two seconds to win the game when Goodman caught Austin’s 47-yard Hail Mary deflected pass, and beat the Soul, 69-68.

In Week 16, the Soul travel to Des Moines, Iowa to play the Iowa Barnstormers for the last time this season.  The game will kick off Saturday, June 28 at 8:05 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Arena.

Russell Athletic Offensive Player: Cleveland’s Shane Austin

Riddell Defensive Player: Philadelphia’s James Romain

J Lewis Small AFL Playmaker:  Cleveland’s Thyron Lewis

Cutter’s Catch of the Game: Cleveland’s Goodman caught a 47-yard pass from Austin in the last play of the game to seal the victory

Spalding Highlight of the Game: Philadelphia’s Ray Little returned a kick for 55 yards for a touchdown
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