"It all starts with my playcalling and the offensive line," Ross said. "My goal is to be the best out there."
After a slow start for the Soul (9-3) against the weaker Predators (1-10), the Soul found the spark they needed when Rayshaun Kizer intercepted Orlando quarterback Chris Leek and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown. The Soul went on to score 30 unanswered points and hold the Predators scoreless for 28:34 in the first half.
"Sometimes plays really determine the outcome of the game. That play really energized our entire sideline," head coach Doug Plank said. "There really is such a thing as momentum. It’s tangible, you can feel it and when it’s on your sideline you know it."
As the Soul established their timing through the air, they turned to the ground attack as a change of pace. Utilizing misdirection and winning battles at the line of scrimmage, Ross bounced off defenders and had former Soul coach Bret Munsey — now with the Predators — worrying about the Soul’s running game.
Outgaining the Predators 96-61, the Soul’s rushing attack allowed them to outpossess Orlando in the third quarter, when Ross found the end zone three times and the Soul’s 21-0 scoring run put the game away.
Ross tied the all-time record on the Soul’s first drive of the final period, when he bounced outside on a draw play and scampered 21 yards for his fifth touchdown.
"If you can come into a football game and have a threat of running the ball as well as throwing it, it makes anything possible," Plank said. "When you’re a defensive coach facing an offense that has the capacity to score through the air and on the ground, you have no idea where to stack things."
The Soul’s defense was on display as well, intercepting Leek three times on the evening. The defensive line overpowered the Predators’ blockers, putting pressure on Leek and making it impossible for Orlando to find an offensive rhythm. Dustin Barno recorded two of the Soul’s three sacks, including a safety in the first quarter. Barno, who moved to defensive end from his usual spot at nose tackle while Justin Warren dealt with personal issues, looked comfortable being back on the outside. n