Game Preview: Soul Host Gladiators in First Round of Playoffs
PHILADELPHIA (August 13, 2015) - The Philadelphia Soul seek revenge against the Cleveland Gladiators in the first round of the 2015 Arena Football League Playoffs. The Soul (15-3) will host the Gladiators (8-10) on the Rothman Field at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday, August 15 at 5 p.m. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.
The Soul and Gladiators faced each other three times during the 2015 season. This past week the Soul won their last regular season game against the Gladiators, with the final score 48-33. WR Shaun Kauleinamoku led the Soul receivers with six catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns. Marco Thomas had five receptions for 48 yards and one touchdown. Adam Smith added a 4-yard score, which set an AFL single-season record for Tight End touchdowns (9), and Harvey Binford chipped in with four catches for 47 yards. Tommy Taggart added 14 rushing on six carries, one rushing touchdown and an 8-yard touchdown for the Soul on offense. Soul QB, MVP and Offensive Player of the Year candidate, Dan Raudabaugh finished the night completing 19-of-31 passes for 238 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions.
Despite not getting the Defensive Player of the Game, Beau Bell recorded 3.0 total tackles, one sack and a blocked extra point as well as pressuring QB Shane Austin all night. DB James Romain added 6.0 total tackles, while Joe Goosby had 6.0 total tackles and LaRico Stevenson had a key fumble recovery early in the game.
The first match-up to look for in the game is Soul DB James Romain up against Cleveland WR Collin Taylor. So far this season, the Defensive Player of the Year and All-Arena candidate has had 69.0 total tackles, 29 pass break-ups, three forced fumbles and is ranked fourth in the league in interceptions (10). Romain recorded 16.5 total tackles against the Gladiators' receivers. This season, Taylor has recorded 144 receptions for 1,597 yards and 43 touchdowns. In Week 16 against the Soul, he had four receptions for 65 yards and two touchdowns and in Week 20 he recorded eight catches for 74 yards and two touchdowns.
The quarterback matchup will be very exciting this weekend as Raudabaugh continues to connect with receivers and lead the League in passing yards and touchdowns overall. Gladiators' QB Shane Austin stands at No. 4 in the League with 4,651 passing yards and 101 touchdowns. Notably, Soul wide receiver, Marco Thomas has been Raudabaugh's most popular target and has broken a handful of Soul receiving records during his first year with the team.
Thomas is going to be a tough competitor for Gladiators' DB Dominic Jones. So far this season, Thomas has recorded 155 catches for 1,772 yards and 40 touchdowns. The Offensive Player of the Year and Receiver of the Year candidate has a combined 21 receptions and five touchdowns against Cleveland so far. Jones has a total of 21.0 total tackles against the Soul offense and leads the Gladiators' defense with 82.5 tackles for the season.
With a Soul victory, the Soul will host the second round of the playoffs on Sunday, August 23. Kickoff is TBA.
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