Philadelphia is hungry for a championship. The town’s four major pro sports franchises, the Eagles, Phillies, Flyers and Sixers, have all come up short in their attempts.
Now the Arena Football League’s Philadelphia Soul will give it a try as they clinched their spot in Virgin Mobile ArenaBowl XXII, taking place July 27, 3 p.m. They advanced with a convincing 70-35 victory over the Cleveland Gladiators in the July 12 National Conference Championship Game. The two squads had split their regular season contests one game apiece.
This time around, with so much more on the line, Philadelphia showed what makes them the conference’s top team. They will face Western Conference champion the San Jose SaberCats, an 81-55 winner of Grand Rapids in the other conference final. Philadelphia defeated San Jose, the defending ArenaBowl champs, 58-57 in their lone regular season meeting. Philadelphia and San Jose had the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked offense respectively in the AFL this season.
In Saturday’s win, several players had big games for the Soul, starting with Offensive Player of the Game Matt D’Orazio, who completed 17-of-25 passes for 184 yards and eight touchdowns. Afterwards, the passer commented on the total team effort.
“Obviously the offense did a great job,” D’Orazio said. “But its like the old cliche, defense wins championships. Defense came out and set the tone. The offense tried to keep up. It’s been a total team effort all year.”
Spearking of defensive, defensive back Eddie Moten was named Defensive Player of the Game after intercepting two passes and and recording 10.5 tackles.
“We played a great one today.” Moten “We played a complete game. We in the secondary did our job.”
Wide receiver Chris Jackson reached another career milestone against Cleveland when he caught his 100th playoff reception in the fourth quarter against Cleveland, becoming just the seventh player in AFL history to achieve the mark.
Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski also played a big part in the Soul’s success as president and co-owner. This time around, he is looking to leave New Orleans with a championship trophy. For those who forget, the Jaworski led Eagles lost Super Bowl XV to the Oakland Raiders 27-10.
“Last time I came home from New Orleans I got beat,” Jaworski said. “This time I would like to have the trophy come back with us in our plane.”