ROSEMONT, Ill. - After finding its offense in the first half, the Soul lost it just as quickly in the final 30 minutes of a 54-43 loss to the Chicago Rush last night at Allstate Arena.
After being on the verge of snapping its three-game losing streak, the Soul is now 4-4, tied for second place with Columbus in the National Conference's Eastern Division.
The Soul seemed to score at will in the first half, leading the Arena Football League's defending champions, 34-20, at the break. That surpassed the 21 points the Soul scored in the entire game last week against Columbus. But only nine points, combined with four turnovers in the second half did Philadelphia in.
"We played well for three-fourths of the game," Soul coach Bret Munsey said. "You've got to play the whole game. If you don't make plays down the stretch, you ain't going to win, especially the tight ones against the world champions.
"Nine points in the second half, you can throw that out the window. That sucks. We're in Arena Football."
The Soul appeared to have just enough momentum late in the game when a blocked field goal by Idris Price left it clinging to a 43-41 lead with less than 4 minutes left. But Chicago defensive lineman John Moyer batted a pass by Soul quarterback Juston Wood, picked the deflection off a teammate's helmet, and rumbled 39 yards to push Chicago ahead, 47-43, with 3:17 to play.
The Soul mounted one last drive in the final 2 minutes, but after it reached Chicago's 18, two Wood passes fell incomplete. The last one eluded Jerrian James' outstretched hands on a slant across the middle inside the Rush 5.
Chicago (7-1) iced the game on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Matt D'Orazio to star wide receiver Bobby Sippio with 31 seconds left. In front of a crowd of 14,529, Chicago extended its winning streak to seven games.
The Rush, which came into the game leading the league in turnover differential, wasted no time taking advantage of a Soul miscue. On the first play from scrimmage, Wood fumbled. Moyer recovered for the Rush at Philadelphia's 7. Three plays later, D'Orazio ran it in from the 1 and Chicago had a 7-0 lead, only 1:43 into the game.
Instead of packing it in, Philadelphia, playing without injured regular starting quarterback Tony Graziani, scored on its next five possessions. Wood, who got the starting assignment over Clint Stoerner, threw five touchdown passes in the first half, including two to C.J. Johnson, 6 and 30 yards. The 30-yarder gave the Soul a 21-13 lead at 12:09 of the second quarter.
Wood finished 27 of 42 for 308 yards and three interceptions, but went without a single TD pass in the second half. The Soul was outgained, 321 yards to 317, for the game.
"We're stunned right now, because we thought we had things going our direction the whole way," Wood said. "We found ways to lose tonight. We're not satisfied, because it was about playing our football the way we needed to play, and, in the end, the points we put up weren't enough to get the win. It wasn't that they outplayed us, it was that we hurt ourselves again."
Soul defensive back Eddie Moten did battle with Sippio, the league's leader in touchdown receptions, batting down a sure TD pass and forcing a fumble after a catch. But Sippio, who came into the game with 32 TD catches, added three more touchdowns on 15 receptions for 178 yards.
Chicago coach Mike Hohensee called the plays and watched the game from a sky box, after being hurt when he was hit by a car in a grocery-store parking lot on Friday. He wore a neck brace and had his left arm in a sling.