This was the perfect trap game, coming after the Soul's first-ever win over Colorado and before two games against Georgia and Dallas, who have a combined 9-1 record.
"Good teams win ugly and this was definitely ugly," said Soul quarterback Tony Graziani, who completed 24 of 41 passes for 297 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions. "We will definitely take a win coming out of this, but nobody is satisfied, the way we played."
Besides Graziani's two interceptions, one that came on a bobbled pass by receiver Larry Brackins, the Soul dropped too many catchable balls. The defense allowed the Dragons to score several touchdowns when receivers were wide open. And, as Bon Jovi alluded to, the Soul were penalized 12 times for 65 yards.
"This game gives us motivation and is a wake-up call," said defensive back Eddie Moten, who scored on a highlight-film 50-yard interception return.
Coach Bret Munsey said he was happy to pick up a win, but he conceded that shoddy preparation may have led to the uneven effort.
"We as a staff really push them, and we didn't feel like we had a great week of preparation," Munsey said. "I'm not highlighting anybody, but we just feel like we could have had a better week."
The Dragons, who trailed by 44-28 at halftime, pulled to within 65-60 on Chris Anthony's 12-yard touchdown reception with 23 seconds left. The matter was settled when the Soul recovered the ensuing onside kick.
The Soul picked up two scores - Moten's interception return and Felipe Claybrooks' 1-yard fumble recovery on the game's first series.
Charles Pauley scored a touchdown on a 57-yard kickoff return that gave the Soul a 65-48 lead.
Moten has at least one interception in seven regular-season games dating from last year, but none had the theatrics of his touchdown return in the second quarter.
He intercepted the ball just inside the end zone, and for a moment everyone seemed to stop - including Moten. Then, realizing he wasn't tackled, Moten started running.
He kept zigging and zagging, earning one crunching block from Raheem Orr and an even better one from Idris Price that flattened Anthony, allowing Moten to complete the score.
"I was looking at the ref to see if he blew the whistle and he was looking at me to see if I would make a move," Moten said. "So I just brought it out and the rest of the defense took it upon themselves to make few good blocks, and I took it in for the touchdown."
There were other highlights. Pauley, Brackins and Sean Scott each had two touchdown receptions for the winners. Scott looked strong at receiver and linebacker after missing last week with a concussion.
Even though there were long faces in the locker room, the Soul took some positives from the inconsistent effort.
"We would have lost this game last year or two years ago," Graziani said. "But we got the 'W,' and that is all that matters."
Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.