TAMPA – Philadelphia Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh threw his 11th touchdown of the evening to Donovan Morgan with 14 seconds left that proved to be the winning score in the 83-79 victory over the Tampa Bay Storm (6-9) in front of 9,229 fans at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Friday night. The game featured 14 lead changes and three ties, and tied the Eastern Division champion, Soul (13-3), single-regular season mark for wins in a season.
“This was a true test for our entire team,” said Soul head coach Doug Plank. “I give Tampa Bay a lot of credit for how they played tonight. We have been fortunate to not be in the situation of needing to comeback from a two score difference late in a game, but I am pleased how the whole team responded.”
National Guard MVP, Raudabaugh finished by connecting on 24-of-37 passes for team-record 415 yards, team-record 11 touchdowns and one interception. Leading the receivers were Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game, Tiger Jones, who had 12 receptions for 204 yards and six touchdowns, while Morgan had nine receptions for 191 receiving yards and four touchdown. Jeff Hughley added two receptions for 10 yards and 159 kick return yards and Larry Brackins added a 10-yard touchdown.
Leading the way defensively were Joe Goosby with 7.5 total tackles and a key fumble recovery late in the game. Rayshaun Kizer added 6.5 total tackles and three pass breakups, while Kent Richardson had 3.5 total tackles and forced fumble. Dusty Bear and Dustin Barno each added a sack.
The Soul opened the scoring when Raudabaugh found Jones on a 15-yard scoring strike and took a 7-0 lead. The Storm answered when Terrence Royal plunged into the end zone from a yard out to tie the score at 7-7. The Soul ended the first quarter scoring with a pair of Jones touchdowns – 45 and 6 yards respectively – to give Philadelphia a 21-7 lead.
Tampa Bay began the second quarter with a couple scores of their own. The Storm’s Nick Hill scored on a 3-yard rushing play and Perne Phillips’ strip, sack and 10-yard touchdown tied the game at 21-21. Philadelphia answered when Morgan pulled in a 45-yard touchdown and made the score 28-21. The Storm responded with a 44 yard connection from Hill to Michael Lindsey and re-tying the score at 28-28.
The two teams exchanged two scores and ended the half with the Soul leading 41-37 after a field goal by Juan Bongarra.
The Storm outscored the Soul 21-14 in the third quarter and took a 58-55 lead into the fourth quarter.
A turning point in the game, when Richardson forced a fumble that was recovered by Goosby early in the fourth quarter, which lead to a Brackins touchdown and gave Philadelphia a 69-65 lead. The two teams exchanged scores with Tampa Bay’s Joe Hill scoring with 37 seconds left to give the Storm a 79-76 lead.
In the final drive, Raudabaugh found Jones on a 40-yard reception on the first play and set up Morgan’s game-winning score with 14 seconds. The Soul defense held off two long pass attempts and Kizer knocked away a pass in the endzone as the clock expired.
The Soul will return home a week from Sunday when they host the Spokane Shock at 6 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center. The game will be seen on The Comcast Network (check local listings) Lou Tilley and Tom Goodhines calling the action.
National Guard MVP: Philadelphia’s Dan Raudabaugh
Russell Athletic Offensive POG: Philadelphia’s Tiger Jones
Riddell Defensive POG: Tampa Bay’s Paul Griffen
JLS Ironman: Tampa Bay’s Michael Lindsey
AFL Playmaker: Philadelphia’s Tiger Jones
Cutters Catch of the Game: Tampa Bay’s Lindsey second quarter touchdownSpalding Highlight of the Game: Tampa Bay’s Pernell Phillips fumble return for a touchdown.