Needing a win against the 1-15 San Antonio Talons on Saturday at Honda Center to preserve its postseason hopes, the KISS couldn't finish off a late comeback in a 72-65
The KISS forced a safety and scored a touchdown with 25 seconds left to tie it up, but the Talons scored a 34-yard touchdown with six seconds remaining to win the game.
In its home finale, the KISS gave up 14 points in the first three minutes of the game and was down 28-0 by the end of the first quarter, but scored 21 unanswered points to stay in the game.
The KISS (3-14) didn't have anything close a playoff-quality season in its inaugural campaign, but still had a shot at postseason play because four of the six teams in the AFL's National Conference qualify for the playoffs. The KISS' division — which includes San Antonio — was bad enough that the team would have made the playoffs with two wins plus a pair of losses by the Portland Thunder.
It was a longshot, but the possibility existed until the final seconds Saturday night.
Due to injuries and performance, the KISS has shuffled more than 70 players through its 21-man roster over the course of the season. Saturday was another day of roster transition, as the KISS tries to determine which players it will retain for the 2015 season.
More than half of Saturday's starting defense had played fewer than three games for the KISS, and usual starting quarterback Aaron Garcia wasn't listed on the depth chart. He's one of the best players in AFL history, but the 18-year veteran completed only 53% of his passes with 26 touchdowns and 17 interceptions for the KISS this season.
He was replaced by J.J. Raterink, a four-year veteran who started the season with the KISS, was traded midway through the year, and is back on the team. He had two passes intercepted Saturday, but Raterink also completed 21 of his 33 passes for 351 yards. He threw for seven touchdowns and ran for two more scores. Four of the touchdown passes were to receiver Donovan Morgan, who had 10 receptions for 178 yards on the night.
Besides Raterink and Morgan, the player who proved his worth for next year was backup quarterback Kenny Guiton. The front office values his athleticism and versatility, which was on full display Saturday. He didn't take any snaps at quarterback, but he caught four passes, including a 39-yard touchdown.
"Kenny Guiton is the type of guy you need because he's versatile," co-owner Brett Bouchy said in a phone interview last week. "I think Guiton will definitely be back, and he's the type of guy we're going to try and build around for the future."