PHILADELPHIA – The New Orleans VooDoo had its season come to an end in the American Conference playoffs on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center, falling to the No. 1 seeded Philadelphia Soul, 66-53.
The VooDoo, who had finished a league worst 3-15 in 2011, made tremendous strides in 2012 with a postseason berth – only the franchise's second in its history. New Orleans also made the postseason with a total of 14 rookies on its roster, and with AFL Coach of the Year candidate Pat O'Hara.
"We had a great season; I know there are no moral victories in football, but at the end of the day, we made great progress this season," said O'Hara post-game. "I am very proud of these guys. I cannot stress it enough how proud I am of this team."
The VooDoo (8-11) and Soul (16-3) had a total of five lead changes in the game, but it was Philadelphia pulling away in the second half after a VooDoo turnover early in the fourth quarter. The Soul drove the length of the field and increased its lead to two scores, 52-39, via a Dan Raudabaugh pass to Jeff Hughley with 8:37 left.
Still, the VooDoo clawed back to come within seven – 60-53 – with 2:18 left in the game after Quarterback Kurt Rocco found Josh Bush wide open in the end zone. It was Bush's fifth touchdown on the night, finishing with game-high 96 yards on 8 receptions. Rocco finished with 252 yards, 6 touchdown passes, and 2 interceptions on completing 20-of-37 passes.
After Bush's score, the VooDoo defense stood tall in the final minute, forcing a 4th and long situation, but a pass interference call led to an automatic first down for the Soul and New Orleans never recovered. AFL single-season rushing champion Derrick Ross would go on to punch it in from 1-yard out, effectively sealing the game for the Soul.
"It was an unfortunate call, but we didn't do ourselves any favors with the turnovers and missed opportunities," said O'Hara. "I am proud of this team; we battled, we fought hard and were right there."
The VooDoo and Soul engaged in a seesaw affair in the first half, and with Philadelphia threatening to increase its lead before half, rookie defensive tackle Marlon Favorite came up with a safety to cut the lead, 28-23, with 36 seconds left. On the ensuing offensive series, the VooDoo got a go-ahead touchdown pass from Rocco to a wide open Quorey Payne down the field for 32 yards.
New Orleans held a 30-28 lead, but the Soul got a 34-yard field goal from Remy Hamilton as time expired in the first half to nurse a 1-point lead, 31-30, at halftime.
About the New Orleans VooDoo
The New Orleans VooDoo will play in the New Orleans Arena, an SMG managed facility directly across the street from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Single game tickets for VooDoo regular season home games are on sale now by calling 504-875-3900. For more information call (888) 277-5526 for Vice President and Director of Operations, Jason Coffel. To shop all things VooDoo, visit www.voodoostuff.com and get your gear today.
About the AFL
Since its inception in 1987, the AFL has afforded the fast-paced and exciting game of Arena Football to millions of fans in a myriad of markets across the country. The NFL Network will once again broadcast an AFL National Game of the Week for the entire regular and post season on Friday nights at 8:00 pm EST, culminating with the ArenaBowl Championship Game in August.
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