The New Orleans VooDoo finished Sunday afternoon’s game strong, scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter.
Problem was, they started so slow.
Another dismal first half created a deficit too large to overcome, leading to the VooDoo’s 55-42 loss to the Philadelphia Soul at the Smoothie King Center.
Coupled with a 14-point turnaround late in the second quarter and a missed opportunity during a fourth-quarter onside kick, the VooDoo lost their fourth consecutive game, inching closer to last season’s seven-game skid.
Players said the early-game jitters stem from their lack of confidence about the game plan, as well as executing it.
“That’s what is killing us,” VooDoo receiver Chris Duvalt said. “We just have to come out and play like it’s our last play on offense, like we did in the second half. We come out and do that, we’ll be fine.”
Yet for the fourth time this season, the VooDoo (1-4) allowed an Arena Football League opponent to dominate the first half. On Sunday, the VooDoo trailed 34-14 at halftime.
By the time the VooDoo recovered, outscoring Philadelphia 28-21 in the second half, quarterback Dan Raudabaugh, fullback Tommy Taggart and the Soul had accomplished enough to stay undefeated (5-0).
Taggart scored Philadelphia’s first three touchdowns on runs of 6, 3 and 5 yards, surprising the VooDoo defense, and Raudaugh threw for 196 yards and five touchdowns.
“When we come out, we have to start off strong and finish strong,” said VooDoo cornerback Tracy Belton, whose third-quarter interception halted a Soul drive five yards from the end zone. “Do your job. Do your one-eighth.”
The VooDoo’s problems started in the second quarter when Adam Kennedy’s 13-yard TD pass to Carlese Franklin was called back because of a holding penalty on offensive lineman Chuck Curry. On the next play, Kennedy (271 yards, four TDs, two interceptions) was unable to connect with Franklin, who was covered closely by James Romain. Instead, LaRico Stevenson caught the sailing pass.
One play later, Soul quarterback found Xavier Boyce wide open in the end zone for a 25-yard score.
With less than two minutes remaining, the VooDoo nearly grasped an onside kick which followed Kennedy’s 17-yard TD pass to Jeremy Grier.
“We’re building a team with a group of guys that haven’t played together,” VooDoo coach Dean Cokinos said. “We’re trying to change the culture. The way we played in the second half is the team we wanna be. That’s the identity we want. We’re just playing in spurts.”