The Pittsburgh Power led from wire-to-wire, ending the 2014 regular season with its franchise record 15th win and also extended their franchise-best winning streak to 12 straight after a 64-34 victory over division rival Philadelphia Soul (9-9) in front of a season-best crowd of 9,549 tonight at CONSOL Energy Center.
Power quarterback Tommy Grady threw for 7 touchdowns and moved into 9th place on the AFL’s all-time touchdown list. Grady finished 15-of-23 for 136 yards. Receiver Prechae Rodriguez caught a game-high 4 touchdowns. Shaun Kauleinamoku caught 2 touchdowns and Hank Edwards and James Shaw each added one touchdown a piece for the Power.
Defensive back Virgil Gray had a pair of interceptions, breaking the franchise’s single-season record for picks. Gray also had a game-high 7 tackles – all solo.
The Power got on the board first when Grady found Rodriguez for a 14-yard touchdown pass. Kicker Julian Rauch’s extra point was good giving the Power a 7-0 lead. After a lengthy possession lasting 5:13, the Soul failed to convert a 4th and goal from the 7-yard line when Gray broke up a Dan Raudabaugh pass in the end zone. The Power used the turnover on downs to their advantage and 5 plays later, Grady found Edwards for a 7-yard touchdown catch extending the Power’s lead to 13-0. Rauch’s extra point was wide left.
The Soul started the 2nd quarter with another lengthy drive lasting 7:43. On 4th and 10 from the Power 14-yard line, Gray intercepted Raudabaugh, returning the ball to the Power 10-yard line. However, the Power could not capitalize on the turnover when they were stopped on a 4th and 1 at their 19-yard line. Philadelphia got their first points of the game at the 5:59 mark of the 2nd quarter when Raudabaugh found Anthony Jones for a 16-yard touchdown. Soul kicker Jon Striefsky converted the point after making the score 13-7. After a failed onside kick attempt, the Power would start their next drive at the Soul 10-yard line. Unfortunately, the Power could not take advantage of the good field position and turned the ball over on downs. However, Philadelphia could only advance the ball 4 yards in the ensuing series, giving the ball back to the Power with under a minute remaining in the quarter. Three plays later, Kauleinamoku hauled in his first touchdown of the game from 14 yards out. Rauch’s kick was good giving the Power a 20-7 lead. The Power defense held the Soul to a quick series – 31 seconds, forcing a turnover on downs with 12 seconds left. Grady found Rodriguez on 1st and goal from the 15-yard line for a touchdown. Rauch’s kick was good giving the Power a 27-7 lead heading into halftime.
The Soul’s first possession of the 3rd quarter lasted only 4 plays, as Gray made his second interception of the game and returned the ball 35 yards to the Soul 5 yard line. On the next play, Grady connected with Rodriguez for the duo’s third touchdown on the game. Rauch kicked an extra point making the score 34-7. On Philadelphia’s next play from scrimmage, back-up quarterback/jack linebacker Arvell Nelson intercepted Ruadabaugh and returned the ball 10 yards for a touchdown. Rauch added the point after extending the Power lead to 41-7. Philadelphia responded with a 7-play, 45-yard drive that ended with a Derrick Ross 1-yard rush for a touchdown. Striefsky’s extra point attempt was good and with 5:24 remaining in the quarter, the Power led 41-14. The Soul’s attempt at an on-sides kick was unsuccessful, as Kauleinamoku recovered the ball at the Philadelphia 10-yard line. On the next play, Kauleinamoku scored his second touchdown of the game from Grady. Rauch’s kick was good making the score 48-21. Philadelphia responded with a 28-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Bryan Randall to Emery Sammons. Striefsky’s added the extra point. Pittsburgh led 48-21 heading into the 4th quarter.
The Power wasted no time adding to their lead in the 4th quarter as Grady found Rodriguez in the end zone for the 4th time. This catch was from 4 yards. Rauch kicked the point after, making the score 55-21. Philadelphia answered with a score when Randall found Markee White for an 8-yard touchdown to make the score 55-27. The Soul went for a 2-point conversion – Randall threw ball incomplete behind the line of scrimmage, which is a live ball that resulted in a crazy chain of events in which five different players touched the ball forcing it backwards towards the Power end zone. Sergio Gilliam was the only person to possession the live ball, grabbing it at the 2-yard line and plunging into the end zone for a 2-point conversion. This increased the Power’s lead to 30 points at 57-27. With Nelson in at quarterback, the Power converted a pair of 4th downs in the ensuing drive that resulted in a 10-yard touchdown pass to Shaw. Rauch kicked the point after giving the Power a 64-27 lead. Philadelphia closed out the game’s scoring with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Randall to Jones. Striefsky kicked the point after to make the final score 64-34.
Next up for the Power is the first round of the 2014 AFL Playoffs at Orlando on Sunday, August 3 at CFE Arena. Kickoff for the game is set for 2:00 p.m. A Power victory over the Predators coupled with a Cleveland loss means the American Conference Championship game will be at CONSOL Energy Center.
RUSSELL ATHLETIC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Tommy Grady, Pittsburgh
RIDDELL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Virgil Gray, Pittsburgh
J. LEWIS SMALL PLAYMAKER OF THE GAME
Arvell Nelson, Pittsburgh
CUTTERS CATCH OF THE GAME
Rodriguez 4th quarter touchdown catch
AFL HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME
Sergio Gilliam’s 2-point conversion