THE SOUL reworked its roster and, for one game at least, also changed its luck.
Ryan McDaniel made an acrobatic touchdown catch with 12 seconds left as the new-look Soul opened the season with a 70-63 win over host Orlando.
A year ago, the Soul lost a half-dozen games in the closing seconds and stumbled to a 9-9 record. The team responded by turning over the lineup with 14 new players on the 25-man roster.
McDaniel, one of the holdovers from a year ago, had 10 catches for 150 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Dan Raudabaugh, another returnee, passed for 422 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Soul played virtually the entire contest without starting kicker Carlos Martinez, who suffered a leg injury while missing an extra point after the Soul's first touchdown. Backup quarterback Bryan Randall handled kickoffs.
"Our guys showed a lot of fortitude tonight fighting through an early injury to the kicker," Raudabaugh said in a postgame interview. "A lot of people don't realize how important special teams are in this game . . . Randall kicked the snot out of it."
Orlando grabbed the lead with 36 seconds left when former Soul wide receiver Larry Brackins caught a 1-yard touchdown, his third score of the night. The Predators had one final chance in the waning seconds, but defensive back Kent Richardson made a clutch tackle as time expired.
The Soul next plays at 10 p.m. Saturday at Spokane. The Shock lost its season opener on Saturday at Arizona, 60-43. Its starting quarterback, Carson Coffman, left that game in the second quarter with a knee injury.
- Ed Barkowitz