Soul top VooDoo, advance to conference championship game

Posted: July 30, 2012

Reyshaun Kizer intercepted a pass in the end zone, team owner Ron Jaworski kissed a pair of nuns seated next to him, and the Philadelphia Soul advanced to the American Conference Championship game - one win from the ArenaBowl.

Kizer's interception with 18 seconds left - one of two by him in the game - sealed the Soul's 66-53 win against the New Orleans VooDoo on Saturday night in the first round of the Arena Football League playoffs at the Wells Fargo Center. With the win, the Soul will host the conference championship game Friday against the Jacksonville Sharks.

While Kizer's interception preserved the victory, it was another turnover that changed the game. With 11 minutes left and the Soul up 44-39, defensive back LaRico Stevenson drove his shoulders into New Orleans receiver Chris Duvalt at the Soul 5-yard line. The hit popped the ball into the air, and the Soul recovered.

Four plays later, quarterback Dan Raudabaugh connected with Jeff Hughley on a quick slant for a 6-yard touchdown that extended the Soul's lead to 52-39. New Orleans scored two more touchdowns, but each time the Soul answered.

"At some point in time, your defense has to show up and get a stop - stop them on downs or get a turnover, whatever the case might be," coach Doug Plank said. "I used to be a meat and potatoes coach: tough, rough, all that sort of thing. I've given up. It's kind of gentler right now. Let's focus on turnovers. Especially in this league, that's what wins games."

The VooDoo actually got out to the hotter start and took a 14-7 lead into the second quarter. But Raudabaugh answered with three straight touchdown passes. He connected with Hughley from 15 yards out, Larry Brackins from 20 yards, and Donovan Morgan from 25 yards. The third score, with just a minute left in the second, gave the Soul a 28-14 edge.

Raudabaugh finished 19 for 31 for 250 yards, with seven touchdowns, and no interceptions. His New Orleans counterpart, Kurt Rocco, passed for 252 yards and six TDs, but he also tossed two interceptions.

After Raudabaugh's trio of strikes, the VooDoo climbed back quickly, scoring 16 points in about 30 seconds. Rocco hooked up with Josh Bush for a 10-yard touchdown with 41 seconds left in the half, the Soul botched a snap in their own end zone for a safety, and Rocco found Quorey Payne for a 25-yard touchdown, giving the VooDoo a 30-28 lead.

For the Soul, Bush was the toughest target to defend. He finished the game with eight catches for 96 yards and five touchdowns.

In the third quarter, the Soul and VooDoo traded strikes early, and New Orleans took a 39-38 lead on a 20-yard touchdown to Bush. But then the Soul built a two-score lead, and they didn't look back.

The Soul clinched the game with 45 seconds left when referees whistled Jeremy Kellem for a pass interference on a fourth and 10. The VooDoo trailed by seven at the time, and an incompletion would have given them a shot.

Instead, the VooDoo reacted by picking a pair of fights. New Orleans' Alvin Ray Jackson and Demarcus Robinson were ejected.

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