The Washington Valor once again gave a valiant effort on Saturday afternoon against the Philadelphia Soul but fell short 47-48 to the undefeated reigning Arena League champs. On Military Appreciation day, this wasn’t the ending the Valor hoped for but their tenacity on the field gave fans a game to remember, for better or for worse.
Replacing Injured Quarterback Erik Meyer, Sean Brackett would take his first snaps as the Valor QB this season. His first drive ended in a 20-yard TD pass to WR Greg Carr who finished with 12 receptions and for 131 yards and 4 touchdowns. “Sean is tough as hell,” Carr said of the 2-year veteran and Brackett was also complimentary of Carr’s performance. “Greg’s a freak,” Brackett said after his first start with the Valor. “It’s like throwing to LeBron out there”
Brackett finished with 231 yards and 4 touchdowns but was sacked 4 times. That perhaps was in part due to a couple of inactive players from the O-line. “He kept fighting and as a teammate …he was a leader through the ups and downs, regardless of what happened the next play” Carr continued. After scoring on the first drive, the resilience that Brackett showed kept the game competitive even after the Soul went on 21-0 scoring run to make the score 21-7 at the beginning of the 2nd quarter. “He didn’t crack,” Head coach Dean Cokinos said on his Quarterback. The Valor had three first time players playing and Cokinos assessment of Brackett’s performance was reflective of how hard the team stayed in the game.
Washington answered back going a 21- scoring run of their own, first with a TD pass from Brackett to Carr, a TD off a fumbled kickoff from the Soul and Brackett once again found Carr in the endzone for leaping grab to make the 21-28 towards the end of the 2nd half. With the rapture of noise inside the Verizon Center amplifying, Philly’s Chris Duvalt brought back a Kickoff for a TD and a calm to the arena as the half ended with the score tied at 28. “We worked on special teams a lot this week,” Cokinos said. That Kickoff return would be just the first of the Valor special team’s mistakes in the game.
The 2nd half again had the Soul jump back on top with a two-touchdown lead as Benson and Reynolds both scored on the Souls next two possessions making the score 42-28, but once again
Brackett and the Valor offense would not give up. Brackett found Carr again in the endzone and thanks to a 4th down stop from the Valor defense, Brackett was able to take advantage of the field position and found Josh Resse in the corner of the end zone as Resse made the leaping catch to make it 41-42 after the XP kick was missed by T.C Stevens.
The Soul knew that the lead was far from safe and after scoring again to push the lead to 7 they attempted a two-point conversion to make it a 9 point lead with less than a minute to play which would all but end Washingtons chances to tie the game- but- the Valor stuffed Soul Wide out Ryan McDaniel at the goal line as he tried to squirm his way into the end zone on the slip screen.
So here it was, down a touchdown with 56 seconds left and a chance to tie the game to get it to overtime. The Valor were already in Philly territory thanks to their recovery of an onside kick. By recognizing that they were literally a few yards away from a score, Coach Cokinos and his staff dove into their playbook and ran a end around to Charles McClain to make it 47-48.
Only thing that needed to happen was the XP and well…as the ball was snapped the hold was botched. The Soul would hold on to win and remain undefeated as Washington dropped their 5 straight game of the season.
“They battled they scraped and they gave us a chance to win,” Cokinos said after the game. “We’re learning each other and we’re still growing but we’ll get better off this,”.
Next for the Valor are the Cleveland Gladiators next Saturday at 7 PM at the Verizon Center