The small scuffle in the third quarter of Sunday’s semifinal series finale between the Philadelphia Soul and the Washington Valor was a metaphor for the game, but not the series.
Both teams fought back and forth until the last minute-and-a-half, when Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh connected with wide receiver Darius Prince to take the lead with a 33-yard touchdown to win, 48-41.
The Soul didn’t want the game to be as close as it ended but coach Clint Dolezel said with the playoff format with aggregate scoring, it makes it a lot less stressful for both players and coaches.
“It’s the beauty of the home and away thing,” Dolezel said. “I would always want to play at home second. So, that if you do clinch it, it’s in front of your crowd.”
The win, combined with last week’s 69-33 victory, means the Soul advance to ArenaBowl XXXII with an aggregate win over the Valor, 117-74.
Before to Sunday’s game, Raudabaugh said the way the Soul would walk out of Wells Fargo Center as winners would be by scoring on every drive – and they did just that, at least in the first half.
“We came out fast, thats what we wanted to do,” Raudabaugh said. “We’ve got to clean up the red zone, but I liked that we came out with some vigor. If we can do that next week, we can give ourselves a chance to win.”
The Soul offense opened the game the way they finished it: On the first play from scrimmage, Raudabaugh found Price in the end zone for a with a 23-yard touchdown.
That wasn’t going to keep the Valor from trying to take the lead before the half. Washington tied the game at 28 with four minutes left in the half thanks to a 17-yard touchdown pass from Valor’s Arvell Nelson.
Soul defensive back Torez Jones kept the Valor from tying the game with three seconds left in the first half with an interception in the end zone, keeping it 35-28 at the half.
Next week the Soul will travel to Albany to take on the Empire, who beat the Baltimore Brigade in their aggregate-score series, 123-47.