-Courtesy of the Philadelphia Soul
PHILADELPHIA – Chris Onorato booted a 42-yard field goal as time expired to give the New York Dragons a 45-44 win over the Philadelphia Soul in exhibition action at the Wachovia Spectrum on Wednesday night.
Soul starting quarterback Tony Graziani played the first half and tossed three touchdown passes compared to just one interception. Larry Brackins added a pair of touchdown catches for the Soul, who open the season on Saturday, March 1 against the Orlando Predators at 7 p.m. at the Wachovia Center. The first 10,000 fans to the game will receive a Soul magnetic schedule courtesy of Executive Auto Body.
The Soul got going first thanks to a Dragons turnover on the opening kickoff. Following the fumble, Philly took over on the New York 4-yard-line and needed just one play for Clifton Smith to run in off the right end just under a minute into the game.
New York tied the game with just under 2 ½ minutes left in the first quarter when Aaron Garcia hit Kevin Swayne with a nine-yard TD pass. The touchdown drive was setup when Graziani was intercepted in the end zone earlier in the quarter.
The pick didn’t phase the Philadelphia signal-caller, as Graziani needed just three plays on the ensuing possession to find the end zone. Graziani hit Brackins with a 30-yard TD pass down the left sideline, giving the Soul a 14-7 lead with under a minute to play in the opening stanza.
The Dragons again tied the game as Garcia capped New York’s next drive with a four-yard TD pass to Chris Anthony.
The teams continued to exchange touchdowns. Graziani hit Kenny Henderson with an 18-yard touchdown pass, while Rohan Davey tossed a TD pass of his own to again tie the game.
However, Connor Hughes hit a 30-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to send the Soul into the break with a 24-21 lead.
Philly then made it a 10-point game coming out of the break, as backup QB Matt D’Orazio hit Brackins with a 26-yard TD pass. Then, after Davey hit Damien Groche with a 33-yard TD pass, D’Orazio hit Chris Horn with a four-yard TD pass to establish a nine-point advantage, 37-28, after Hughes missed the ensuing extra point.
New York rallied in the fourth quarter. East Stroudsburg product Dan Crozier ran in from four yards out to cut the deficit to 37-35. Then, John Walker returned a D’Orazio interception 30 yards for a touchdown to put give the Dragons their first lead of the game, 42-37.
D’Orazio recovered, though, and marched his troops down field, hitting Scottie Vines with a six-yard TD pass to put the Soul back in front. Rob Keefe then secured the game, intercepting Dragons’ quarterback Ryan Vena with just over a minute to play.
D’Orazio managed to run all but nine seconds off the clock, giving New York one more chance.
The Dragons’ ran a play and lost the ball on a fumble as time expired, but a roughing-the-passer call gave New York life and Onorato booted a 42-yard field goal as time expired to give the Dragons the win 45-44.