The Arena Football League is famous for its pinball-machine scoring and outrageous statistics. Take the milestone Donovan Morgan reached last night.
Morgan, in only his third season, caught his 100th career touchdown as the Soul eventually put away the New Orleans VooDoo, 70-49. Less than 4 minutes later, he added No. 101. And No. 102 came 9 minutes after that.
You get the idea.
"It's a great thing to reach those individual goals," Morgan said. "But the main goal is to win a championship."
The teams came into the game with a combined 5-15 record and at various points showed that Bill Parcells was right when he observed that you are what your record says you are. Still, the Soul might be a little better than the 4-7 mark it now sports had it not given away a few wins earlier in the season.
"We had a great week of practice," coach Mike Hohensee said. "With the record that we have, it might have taken a weaker team down. We've had some unfortunate things happen to us in our losses . . . these guys deserve better."
Soul quarterback Ryan Vena hit an unfortunate exacta when he started the first half and the second half by throwing pick-6s. He steadied himself after each, though, and finished with 291 passing yards and six touchdowns.
"Those are mistakes that I've made in some games that obviously are correctable," Vena said. "I still feel like I'm improving each week. We still scored 70 points. If we don't do that, we score 84 and things are a lot better. I'll continue to watch film and continue to get better."
Philadelphia fell a touchdown shy of the season-high 76 points it put on Iowa in Week 8. A big part of its success was getting the ball more to Morgan in the second half. On the drive that Morgan hit the century mark, he was targeted on four consecutive plays.
"In the first half, every time I went in motion, they dropped three guys on me," Morgan explained. "In the locker room, we adjusted to where I go underneath - or have someone come underneath and I go deep - and it was working."
If there is one thing Arena has in common with traditional football, it is the importance of putting pressure on the quarterback. The Soul's defensive line, specifically Jeff Fitzgerald, Darrell Campbell and Dustin Barno, did a fine job of that last night, forcing New Orleans quarterback D. Bryant into a number of hurried throws.
Defensive back Kent Richardson tipped one ball that teammate James Sadler intercepted and then came up with a pick himself in the second half. The Soul also forced Bryant into an intentional grounding in the end zone for a safety.
"We thought coming into this game, we'd get five or six sacks," Hohensee said. "I don't know how many we got [three], but I know we got a lot of heat on him. We expected to get pressure."
Jon Striefsky became the Soul's fourth kicker of the season when Robbie Smith failed a concussion test earlier in the week. Striefsky (North Penn, Delaware) hit his first six extra points and was a respectable 7-for-9 overall .
He didn't fare too well when PJ Berry dusted him during a kickoff-return touchdown, but the guy wasn't brought in to tackle people. Last night was his first game action since his senior year at Delaware in the fall of 2009.
"You look at seven of nine, there's some room for improvement there," Striefsky said. "But my kickoffs - a lot of guys say [it's important] to hit the ball off the net. I hit half my kicks off the net tonight. If I come back next week, I'll hit more."
Morgan, playing in his 43rd AFL game, led all receivers with eight catches, 117 yards and those three scores. He is now a mere 246 behind the all-time leader.
"I have to catch my brother, Damien Harrell. I think he has like 320," Morgan laughed. Actually, Harrell has 348. "I have a few more years to make that."
Seven NFL players have reached 100 touchdown receptions, led by Jerry Rice's 197 . . . Defensive back Mike Brown did not play after an MRI earlier in the week showed a bulging disk in his back. He said he expects to return when the team resumes practice on Tuesday and, obviously, to be in the lineup for Friday's home game against Milwaukee . . . Nice Memorial Day touch by the Soul game staff to have someone sing "God Bless America," except for one thing: It was performed smack in the middle of the first quarter. Very odd . . . New Orleans dropped to an AFL-worst 2-9.