The Washington Valor (1-7) earned their first win of the season Sunday afternoon at Wells Fargo Center, a 49-48 victory over the defending-champion Philadelphia Soul (4-4). Quarterback Arvell Nelson, playing in his second game with the Valor, threw four touchdowns and ran for two more, earning the game’s Most Valuable Player Award.
“I’m incredibly proud of the guys,” Valor Interim Head Coach Benji McDowell said after the win. “We’ve fought through adversity this season, learned from it, improved every week and we made the plays we needed to today. I’m proud of the entire team.”
Philadelphia took a 7-0 lead just two minutes into the game when quarterback Shane Austin, who played for the Valor earlier this season, found wideout Darius Prince for his first of four receiving touchdowns. The Valor answered on the following possession, capping a six-minute drive with a five-yard touchdown pass from Nelson to wideout Chris Duvalt. Philadelphia took a 14-7 lead five seconds into the second quarter on the second Austin-to-Prince scoring connection and, after a recovered onside kick, extended their lead to 21-7 just minutes later when Austin found wide receiver Aaron Wascha for an 11-yard touchdown pass. Washington cut the lead to one possession on the following drive when Nelson again found Duvalt in the end zone. With three minutes left in the half, the Soul took a 28-14 lead on Prince’s third touchdown reception of the game – this one a 13-yarder.
Valor wide receiver Josh Reese made his mark on the game early in the second half, accounting for a pair of touchdowns on consecutive plays to tie the game at 28. Reese first caught a 39-yard touchdown pass from Nelson, then, on the following kickoff, recovered a ball in the end zone that had ricocheted off the goal post. After another Austin touchdown pass, giving the Soul a 35-28 lead, Valor wideout Reggie Gray found the end zone for the sixth-straight game, hauling in a nine-yard pass from Nelson and tying the game at 35. Washington and Philadelphia traded rushing touchdowns early in the fourth quarter. An Austin interception set the Valor up with a chance to take the lead, which they did just minutes later when Nelson scored his second rushing touchdown of the day, giving Washington a 49-42 lead with just over two minutes remaining. Just two plays into the Soul’s ensuing drive, Prince caught his fourth touchdown pass of the night, however, the extra point attempt was blocked by Valor defensive lineman Roderick Henderson, maintaining Washington’s one-point, 49-48 lead with just 52 seconds left in the game. The Valor recovered the Philadelphia onside kick attempt, but fumbled just three plays later, setting the Soul up with a chance to win with 37 seconds left in the game. Newly signed defensive back Fred Obi intercepted Austin at the Valor four-yard line, sealing Washington’s first win of the season.
MVP: WAS QB Arvell Nelson – 214 passing yards, four passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: PHI WR Darius Prince – Eight receptions, 146 yards and four touchdowns
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: PHI DB LaRico Stevenson – 5.5 total tackles, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery
The Valor return to action next Friday, June 15, taking on the league-leading Baltimore Brigade at 7 p.m. at Royal Farms Arena. The game will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network. Washington’s next home game is set for Friday, June 22 at 7 p.m. at Capital One Arena against the Philadelphia Soul.