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Soul drop 3d straight with loss to Destroyers

Clint Stoerner replaced the injured Tony Graziani at quarterback, but he couldn't halt the slide.

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Columbus Destroyers got enough offense from quarterback Matt Nagy and wide receiver Damien Groce last night to overcome a Soul offense led by Clint Stoerner.

Stoerner had only the weekend to study the playbook before making his debut.

Groce caught two touchdown passes and ran for two more scores as the Destroyers posted a 44-21 victory that moved them into second place in the Arena Football League's Eastern Division.

Stoerner, who started two games for the Nashville Kats this season, led the Soul offense to two touchdowns on nine possessions. He failed to lead the Soul to a touchdown in the second half until 3 minutes, 13 seconds remained in the fourth quarter. The ensuing two-point conversion made the score 37-21.

The Soul (4-3) have lost three straight.

Stoerner found out Saturday that he would be the starter in place of Tony Graziani, who is out for at least four weeks with a shoulder injury.

"He's got experience in this league," coach Bret Munsey said of Stoerner. "He gave us the best chance to win a football game."

Stoerner ended up completing 23 of 37 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns. Nagy completed 16 of 28 passes for 208 yards and three TDs.

The Soul trailed by 20-10 at the half. On the final play of the half, Stoerner faked a pass to the left and tried to take the ball into the end zone himself, but Destroyers linebacker Leroy Thompson stripped the ball from him at the goal line and recovered it for a touchback as time expired.

The Soul offense didn't show any life until its fourth possession, when J.J. McKelvey caught a screen pass and took it for a 23-yard gain. Two plays later, Stoerner found Steve Gonzalez on a crossing route for a 10-yard touchdown. The extra point made it 14-10 with 2:02 left in the first half.

"I hadn't touched the field in six weeks, so that's kind of tough," Stoerner said. "But knowing the offense wasn't the problem."