Philadelphia Soul earn convincing win over San Jose Sabercats, 65-43
The Soul used an early lead to defeat the San Jose Sabercats in convincing fashion, 65-43, at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif.
The win was the Soul's seventh in a row and pushed them to 12-5. It also helped maintain their one-game lead over the Jacksonville Sharks (11-6) for the top spot in the American Conference.
"You are always happy anytime you come to San Jose and leave with a victory," Soul head coach Clint Dolezel said after the game. "We started strong and finished strong, but there were definitely elements that we will need to work on as we get ready for the playoffs. We are happy to be playing well during this part of the season."
A matchup between the Soul and the Sabercats (12-5) was expected to be a quality contest between two of the best teams in the Arena Football League.
The Soul dispelled that early and often Saturday as they raced out to a 27-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Leading that early charge was wide receiver Tiger Jones who caught the final two of the four-touchdown barrage.
Jones finished the game with seven receptions for only 60 yards, but those were 60 history-making yards. Jones now has 2,028 receiving yards on the season and became the only player in league history to record three 2,000-yard seasons. He's the only man to reach the plateau multiple times.
Even more impressive is that he's done it in each of the last three seasons.
The Sabercats showed pride, however, and scored 21-unanswered points to make the score 27-21 with seven seconds remaining in the first half.
The Soul used the remaining time wisely and set up a 47-yard field goal by kicker Carlos Martinez to make the score 30-21 at the half.
The second half was all Philadelphia.
The Soul got back to their scoring ways on the first possession of the second half when quarterback Dan Raudabaugh capped off an eight-play, 46–yard drive with a four-yard touchdown pass to receiver Larry Brackins to make the score 37-21.
On the first play of the ensuing San Jose possession, the Soul defense recorded one of its seven stops after defensive back Rayshaun Kizer intercepted San Jose quarterback Russ Michna.
The Soul used another eight-play drive to capitalize on the San Jose mistake after receiver Andrae Thurman took a carry six yards into the end zone to make the score 44-21.
Kizer and the defense managed to keep the potent San Jose offense off the scoreboard during the third quarter. The unit gave up three touchdowns during the fourth quarter, but forced two fumbles, which helped the Soul pull away and gain a win over a very quality opponent.
Raudabaugh continued his hot streak against the Sabercats Saturday as he completed 20 of 33 passes for 181 yards and five touchdowns. He didn't throw an interception for the seventh game in a row — all of which have resulted in Soul victories.
Fullback Derrick Ross carried the ball 11 times (a lot by Arena Football standards) for 21 yards and scored two touchdowns on the ground.
Although Jones made history, Thurman led the Soul in receiving with nine catches for 94 yards and a touchdown.
The Soul have been downright dominant defensively as they entered the game tops in the league in scoring defense (47.1 points per game).
That continued Saturday as they recorded more than five stops for the second game in a row.
Calvin Fance led the way with two sacks and 2.5 tackles overall. Defensive back LaRico Stevenson recovered two fumbles with resulting in a score.
During the seven-game win streak, the Soul defense has only allowed more than 50 points twice and haven't surrendered more than 60 since June 1 to the Arizona Rattlers.
The Soul enter the regular-season finale against the San Antonio Talons next week (9 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network) with simple stakes: win and clinch homefield advantage.
The Talons (9-8) are still mathematically alive for a playoff spot, but their chances are very slim. The Soul could be playing a team next week that is playing for pride only.