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Power respond decisively to Soul trash talk

| Saturday, July 26, 2014, 8:25 p.m.
Sidney Davis | Trib Total Media
The Power's Sergio Gilliam dives across the goal line to score two points after a botched conversion attempt by the Philadelphia Soul on Saturday, July 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.

Trash talk often flies back and forth among players, but what spewed from Philadelphia into Pittsburgh last week was different.

Power coach Ron James said he was challenged by a Philadelphia Soul owner, who posted this message to Facebook:

“Get ready to lose this weekend.”

That was all James had to hear. When he informed his Power players about the inflammatory remarks, they responded as James hoped, giving the Soul (9-9) a decisive pounding, 64-34 on Saturday night at Consol Energy Center.

The victory stretched the Power's winning streak to 12 going into next Sunday's playoff game in Orlando against the Predators.

The Power, who won all three games against the Soul, finished the regular season 15-3.

James refused to name the Soul owner, although he said it wasn't former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski, one of the Soul's majority owners.

“He knows who he is,” James said of the Facebook culprit.

James said the words made him work a little harder last week while preparing for the game.

“You think to yourself, maybe I'm not working hard enough,” he said. “The first thing I do is look in the mirror and say, ‘How can I get better this week?' When I get challenged like that in a public forum, I take it to heart, work a little harder and see what the results may be.”

The result in this case was a dominant victory, led by defensive back Virgil Gray and quarterback Tommy Grady.

Gray, who played in only his second game since missing the previous two months with a high ankle sprain, intercepted two passes, giving him a franchise record 11 in 11 games.

Grady completed 15 of 23 passes for 136 yards and seven touchdowns, giving him 115 this season and moving him into ninth place all-time in Arena Football League history with 512.

Wide receiver Prechae Rodriguez had four scoring receptions (14, 15, 5 and 4 yards), Shaun Kauleinamoku two (13 and 10) and Hank Edwards one (7).

The Power held the Soul, who were trying to qualify for the playoffs, to seven points in the first half.

Philadelphia's total of 34 marked the seventh time this season the Power'sopponent failed to score 40.

Linebacker James Bryant said his teammates took the Soul owner's challenge personally.

“You are talking about the No. 1 defense (statistically) that already beat you twice, and you have the nerve to say you are going to come in and turn the Power off in our house with a packed house, at that?” he said.

“Not today.”

Power officials announced a crowd of 9,549 — a three-year high — in the team's first home game in 35 days and perhaps the last this year.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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