Jeff Hughley dropped to one knee and spread his arms wide in celebration. The wide receiver's 36-yard touchdown catch and run down the right sideline provided the insurance the Soul needed as they dropped the visiting Jacksonville Sharks, 56-38, on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Hughley finished with 121 receiving yards and three touchdowns. The 36-yard touchdown was the Soul's longest completion of the evening.
The Soul led by just four at the half before they rallied for five second-half touchdowns. Fullback Derrick Ross capped the scoring with a rushing touchdown three minutes after Hughley's catch.
With the win, the Soul (7-2) remain atop the East Division and remain tied for the AFL's best mark. They've eclipsed 50 points in each of their nine games and have won five of their last six.
After allowing 10 points to end the first half, the Soul defense clamped down in the third quarter. On the Sharks opening drive, Soul linebacker Melik Brown applied pressure to quarterback Bernard Morris and forced an errant pass into the end zone for a turnover on downs.
The Soul capitalized quickly as quarterback Dan Raudabaugh found Emery Sammons on a 12-yard touchdown on the right side of the end zone, and the Soul took a 28-17 lead with 7:56 left. The touchdown capped off a three-play, 38-yard drive.
Raudabaugh hooked up with Tiger Jones for a 9-yard touchdown as the quarter expired, and the Soul entered the fourth ahead, 35-24.
Raudabaugh completed 20 of his 26 passes for 308 yards and threw seven touchdowns and three interceptions. Sharks quarterback Bernard Morris threw for 317 yards on 20-for-38 passing and added four touchdowns with four interceptions.
Linebacker Brandon Perkins recorded four tackles and a pair of sacks in his first game since being activated from the injured reserve. Rayshaun Kizer led the defense with seven tackles, six of which were unassisted.
The Soul found the end zone quickly in the first quarter, as Hughley hauled in a 34-yard touchdown on the team's second play from scrimmage. Raudabaugh found Hughley open down the right flank 1 minute, 47 seconds into the game.
Midway through the second quarter, Raudabaugh connected again with Hughley as the receiver used one hand to bring in a 5-yard score.