Soul still alive for arena league playoff berth

Posted: July 06, 2014

When a team loses the way the Soul have in recent weeks, it must do things differently in order to achieve a different outcome.

And that is exactly what happened last weekend, as the Soul (7-8) kept their postseason hopes alive by scoring a season-high 84 points in an 84-48 win against Iowa.

The Soul outscored Iowa, 51-14, in the second half, using two defensive touchdowns and a safety to secure the win.

"Our defense played really well for us in that second half," Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh said. "Their play helped us stay alive and keep working towards our goal, which is to make the playoffs."

Averaging 60.2 points per game, the two-time defending American Conference champion Soul haven't had a problem scoring this season. Raudabagh is third in the league in passing with 3,793 yards (317 of 466, 77 TD's), and his 68.0 completion percentage leads the league.

Running back Derrick Ross, who recently became the first AFL player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in his career, leads the league with 399 yards and 31 touchdowns.

But the Soul, 15-3 and 12-6 in the last two seasons, respectively, have had to battle through several crucial injuries this season.

"You don't want to use injuries as an excuse, but this has been a season like none of us have seen before," Soul coach Clint Dolezel said. "If you look at some of the guys we have on injured reserve, we've got all-Arena players missing games for us."

Perhaps the most notable of the team's six players who have suffered season-ending injuries is all-Arena center Brennen Carvalho, who has been out since late April with a foot injury.

"When you lose a center with all-Arena attached to his name, it's just not very easy to replace him," Dolezel said of Carvalho, who has been replaced by Jason Holman. "The guys who play this position best are all playing at the next level."

All-Arena kicker Carlos Martinez has missed the last two games with a calf injury but could be back soon. A torn anterior cruciate ligament and a torn pectoral muscle also ended the seasons of key players Morkeith Brown (a defensive lineman from Temple) and wide receiver Ryan McDaniel.

"The injuries have hurt us, no question about it," said Ross, who played two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and also did a stint in NFL Europe before joining the Soul. "But that three-game losing streak really put our backs against the wall."

The Soul responded to a three-game losing streak at the start of the season by winning five of their next six games. However, the three games Ross is referring to are the losses to Tampa Bay (56-49), Pittsburgh (57-56), and Cleveland (69-68). All came in the last series, and the loss to Cleveland happened on a last-second Hail Mary.

After taking the lead, the Soul's kickoff resulted in a touchback, which set up Cleveland's winning bomb.

"That's what kind of season it has been," Dolezel said. "We're in position where we probably need to win out to get in the playoffs.

"The good thing is that's something we're capable of doing if we play up to our ability."


jmitchell@philly.com

@JmitchInquirer

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