Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Yes Gracie Philadelphia has a champion

Blaze of Glory: Philadelphia Soul capture ArenaBowl XXII title

New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Matt D'Orazio connected on 26-of-43 passes for 302 yards and seven touchdowns, while Chris Jackson hauled in 11 catches for 146 yards and three scores as the Philadelphia Soul held on to upend the defending champion San Jose Sabercats, 59-56 in a wild ArenaBowl XXII.

D'Orazio also added a rushing touchdown in the Soul's first title-game appearance. Larry Brackins contributed six receptions for 70 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Eddie Moten posted a game-altering interception in the second quarter.

Mark Grieb passed for 299 yards to go with eight TDs and an interception on 27-of-44 passing for the Sabercats, who failed to record the league's first back-to-back championships since the Tampa Bay Storm won the title in 1995-96. Rodney Wright grabbed a game-high 13 balls for 144 yards and two touchdowns, while Jason Geathers reached the end zone on five of his eight catches.

The clubs traded jabs in the opening quarter with D'Orazio, who also led the Chicago Rush to their only ArenaBowl title in 2006, and Grieb each tossing a pair of touchdowns, as the game reached the second stanza knotted at 14 apiece.

The score remained tied at 20 in the second when both kickers missed extra points after their team's respective touchdowns.

With the score tied at 20 midway through the quarter, Philly got the first defensive stop of the game as the Soul pass rush deflected Grieb's fourth-down pass attempt. Philly took advantage immediately as D'Orazio found a wide open Brackins in the end zone with just under six minutes left in the half.

Moten picked off a Grieb pass on the 'Cats next possession and D'Orazio called his own number on ensuing drive, running a rare draw through the left side of the line to give Philly a 34-20 lead. San Jose countered with a 23-yard touchdown catch from Geathers, and Philly's Connor Hughes nailed a 20-yard field goal to give the Soul a 37-27 lead at the second-quarter buzzer.

The Soul opened the scoring in the second half when D'Orazio found Jackson, the AFL Offensive Player of the Year, on a 32-yard hookup. Philly's Raheem Orr sacked Grieb in the end zone minutes later for a safety, but San Jose scored a TD at the buzzer, a 12-yard catch by Geathers to cut the Sabercats deficit to 46-34.

The club's traded touchdowns in the fourth, and Philly seemed to ice it with a touchdown with 39 seconds on the clock. After a controversial pass interference call kept the Soul drive alive, D'Arazio hit Phil Bogle on an out route from the two-yard line, and Philly led, 59-42.

The game was far from over, however. Wright broke free from several Soul defenders to race in for a 26-yard score with 28 seconds remaining. The 'Cats recovered the ensuing onside kick and scored 11 seconds later on a 14-yard reception from Geathers.

Lightning did not strike twice for San Jose, as Philly's Rod Davis somehow came up with the onside kick while lying on his back to secure the championship for title-starved Philadelphia, which has not hosted a champion in the four major sports since the 76ers won the NBA Championship in 1983.

07/27 19:06:54 ET

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