New Orleans, LA - Philadelphia QB Matt D'Orazio completed an outstanding season to lead the Soul to their first ArenaBowl title over San Jose, 59-56. The veteran joined John Dutton as the only quarterbacks to lead two different teams to wins in ArenaBowl championships (Dutton accomplished the feat with San Jose in 2002, then Colorado in 2005).
D'Orazio completed 26-of-43 passes for 302 yards and seven touchdowns to win game MVP honors for the second time in his career. He began the season as the backup to Tony Graziani after being released by Chicago after an injury-plagued '07 campaign. Soul receiver Chris Jackson earned Offensive Player of the Game honors by catching 11 passes for 146 yards and three touchdowns.
San Jose scored touchdowns on its first three series, but Philadelphia made two key defensive stops to turn a 20-14 deficit into a 34-20 advantage. The SaberCats turned the ball over on downs to stop one possession, and Soul defensive back Eddie Moten picked off San Jose quarterback Mark Grieb on the next. It was the only interception of the game thrown by Grieb, who led the AFL in interceptions thrown in 2008. Grieb had another miscue in the third quarter when he fumbled the ball through the endzone, allowing Philadelphia to take a 46-27 lead.
San Jose made the last half-minute interesting, scoring 16 points in 11 seconds with the help of an onside kick they caught on the hop and returned to the Philadelphia 14. Philadelphia, which rallied from a 33-7 deficit on the road to beat San Jose 58-57 in the regular season, finally sealed the win by recovering a second onside kick. San Jose's Rodney Wright set an ArenaBowl record with 13 catches, including seven in the first quarter. Jason Geathers, a linebacker subbing for injured wide receiver James Roe, added five TD receptions, tying an ArenaBowl record (also held by Roe, set in ArenaBowl XVIII).
The game marked the first ArenaBowl that used instant replay review. Philadelphia survived three replay challenges by San Jose, while the Soul was successful on its lone challenge of the game.
|Sun, Jul 27, 2008||1||2||3||4||F|
|San Jose SaberCats||14||13||7||22||56|
|SJS||1||11:21||Grieb 8 pass to Wright (Haglund kick)||7-0|
|PHI||1||9:30||D’Orazio 34 pass to Holmes (Hughes kick)||7-7|
|SJS||1||5:30||Grieb 5 pass to Geathers (Hughes kick)||14-7|
|PHI||1||2:59||D’Orazio 34 pass to Jackson (Hughes kick)||14-14|
|SJS||2||14:54||Grieb 22 pass to Geathers (Haglund kick failed)||20-14|
|PHI||2||8:59||D’Orazio 13 pass to Jackson (Hughes kick failed)||20-20|
|PHI||2||5:31||D’Orazio 20 pass to Brackins (Hughes kick)||20-27|
|PHI||2||0:54||D’Orazio 8 run (Hughes kick)||20-34|
|SJS||2||0:29||Grieb 23 pass to Geathers (Haglund kick)||27-34|
|PHI||3||7:56||D’Orazio 32 pass to Jackson (Hughes kick)||27-44|
|PHI||3||3:48||Safety (Grieb tackled by Orr, fumbled ball through endzone)||27-46|
|SJS||3||0:00||Grieb 12 pass to Geathers (Haglund kick)||34-46|
|PHI||4||6:49||D’Orazio 7 pass to Brackins (Hughes kick failed)||34-52|
|SJS||4||2:13||Grieb 3 pass to Johnson (Grieb pass to Saintil)||42-52|
|PHI||4||0:39||D’Orazio 2 pass to Bogle (Hughes kick)||42-59|
|SJS||4||0:28||Grieb 26 pass to Wright (two-point conversion failed)||48-59|
|SJS||4||0:17||Grieb 14 pass to Geathers (Geathers run)||56-59|
|Player||PAT M/A||%||FG M/A||%|
|Player||PAT M/A||%||FG M/A||%|