ORLANDO, Fla. - The Orlando Predators outlasted the Georgia Force on Saturday night as Charles Pauley came one-yard shy of scoring the game-winning touchdown as time expired. The 50-45 loss was a heartbreaker for the Force, who are now 1-3 on the season.
The call was questionable, and Georgia coach Doug Plank said he thought Pauley got in the end zone.
"It appeared to me that he had scored a touchdown," Plank said. "But at the same time I wasn't on the field and I didn't have the best perspective."
The loss was a tough one to swallow for the Force, as they appeared to have the victory in hand with just under a minute remaining. But Orlando quarterback Shane Stafford found an open Chas Gessner for the go-ahead score with 22 seconds remaining in the game. Orlando failed on its two-point conversion attempt to make the score 50-45.
The teams entered the fourth quarter tied at 38, but it only took the Force one play to take the lead. Chris Greisen hooked up with Pauley for a 13-yard score and Georgia jumped out to a 45-38 lead with 14:17 left in the game. The Predators answered with a touchdown drive of their own, and just when it looked like the game would be deadlocked again, Orlando kicker John Vaughn missed the extra point and the Force held a 45-44 lead with 11:15 in the game.
Georgia trailed at the half 31-28 but opened the third quarter with a four-play, 38-yard drive capped off by a 19-yard touchdown from Greisen to Pauley. The Force defense then stepped up, forcing a turnover on Orlando's first play from scrimmage and converting the following possession into a 23-yard field goal.
For the game Greisen finished 24 of 46 passing for 287 yards and four touchdowns. Greisen was without his favorite target, receiver Troy Bergeron, who was out with a stomach illness.
Orlando receiver T.T. Toliver gave the Force fits the entire game, especially in the first half. Toliver had seven receptions for 148 yards and three touchdowns in the first half alone, and finished the game with eight catches for 154 yards and three scores.
Plank said this isn't the way he envisioned the season starting, and said changes could be on the horizon.
"When you're losing and things are not going well, you have to try to continue to improve your football team," Plank said. "I'm not sitting idly by without thinking that we don't need to get better, because we're not a very good team right now.
The Force ended the first quarter with a 21-10 lead, thanks to an unorthodox touchdown by defensive back Cam Newton. Georgia defender Stephen Cason picked off Orlando quarterback Stafford on the Predators' 10 yard line and looked like he might run in for the score. But he was hit and fumbled the ball, where it was scooped up by Newton who took in it seven yards for the score.
Among those in attendance for the game were Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden, 2007 AFL Defensive Player of the Year Gregg White, who now plays for the Buccaneers, former professional wrestler Jimmy Hart and professional golfer John Daly.
Next up for the Force is another road game, as Georgia heads west to take on the Utah Blaze. Kick-off is set for Saturday at 9 p.m.