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Rookies help Force hold on for much-needed win

SCORING BOX

Force 56, Predators 53

Orlando 3 21 6 23 — 53

Georgia 14 14 14 14 — 56

FIRST QUARTER

Georgia: C.J. Johnson 28 pass from Bryant Moniz (Carlos Martinez kick), 8:32

Orlando: Mark Lewis 19 FG, 0:55

Georgia: Larry Shipp 12 pass from Moniz (Martinez kick), 0:31

SECOND QUARTER

Orlando: Jarvis Williams 7 pass from Chris Leak (Lewis kick), 11:09

Georgia: Shay Hodge 9 pass from Moniz (Martinez kick), 7:18

Orlando: T.T. Toliver 18 pass from Leak (Lewis kick), 0:52

Georgia: Benji McDowell 2 run (Martinez kick), 0:33

Orlando: Glen Fox 13 pass from Leak (Lewis kick), 0:09

THIRD QUARTER

Georgia: Hodge 3 pass from Moniz (Martinez kick), 11:33

Orlando: Fox 13 pass from Leak (run failed), 5:24

Georgia: C.J. Johnson 3 pass from Moniz (Martinez kick), 0:55

FOURTH QUARTER

Orlando: Mykel Benson 1 run (Fox pass from Leak), 12:29

Georgia: Hodge 34 pass from Moniz (Martinez kick), 11:02

Orlando: Williams 6 pass from Leak (Toliver run), 6:00

Georgia: Hodge 22 pass from Moniz (Martinez kick), 1:40

Orlando: Benson 1 run (Lewis kick), 0:28

Orlando Georgia

First downs 25 18

Rushes-yards 11-22 5-2

Passing yards 314 273

Comp-Att.-Int. 30-47-0 21-29-0

Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0

Penalties-yards 5-28 5-31

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing — Orlando: Benson 7-12, Leak 4-10. Georgia: Jeremy Grier 1-2, Moniz 2-1, McDowell 2-1.

Passing — Orlando: Leak 30-47-0, 314. Georgia: Moniz 21-29-0, 273.

Receiving — Orlando: Fox 13-135, Williams 13-120, Toliver 3-51, Benson 1-8. Georgia: Hodge 10-144, Shipp 6-77, C.J. Johnson 3-45, Kevin McAlmont 1-4, Mike Johnson 1-3.

DULUTH -- As has been customary throughout their 2012 Arena Football League season, Sunday's game with the Orlando Predators didn't come easy for the Georgia Force.

But in the end, they got what they needed.

In just his second professional start, Bryant Moniz threw for seven touchdowns, four of which went to fellow rookie Shay Hodge, as the Force built an early lead and held on for a crucial 56-53 win before 5,341 fans at The Arena at Gwinnett Center -- the second largest home crowd of the season.

It was a needed shot in the arm for the Force (8-8), who had lost four of their previous five games, but remain just a half-game behind first-place New Orleans in the South Division with two games left in the regular season following a next week's bye.

"It was a good arena game," Force coach Dean Cokinos. "You score every possession (except one) and you stop them twice, you win the game. That's basically what it came down to.

"We didn't turn it over ... (and had) a lot of players stepping up. Hodge is starting to learn the game. Moniz is starting to learn the game."

Both were key figures Sunday, with Moniz completing 21 of 29 passes for 273 yards and the seven TDs, while Hodge pulled down 10 receptions for 144 yards and the four scores.

Several of Hodge's catches were acrobatic, and many of them came at critical times as his breakout game helped the Force build off an early lead and keep the last-place Predators (2-13) at arm's length.

"The situations just arose," Hodge said. "I just took advantage of it. I just tried to make plays."

It was the Force defense that came up with some big plays on Orlando's first two possessions of the game to give the team early momentum.

A third-down sack by Caleb Bostic forced the Predators into a 52-yard field goal attempt by Mark Lewis, which deflected off the left upright.

The Force offense cashed in on the opening driving 44 yards in five plays, with Moniz hooking up with C.J. Johnson on a 28-yard touchdown pass to give Georgia a 7-0 lead with 8:32 left in the first quarter.

The defense then stiffened when Orlando drove as deep as the Georgia 2-yard line, with key tackles by Robert Durham on first and third down forcing the Predators into another field goal attempt, which Lewis booted home this time from 19 yards out with 55 seconds left in the quarter, which kept the Force in front at 7-3.

The Predators tried some trickery with Lewis attempting an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff.

But the Force recovered, and Moniz hit Larry Shipp in the flat on the next snap, with the veteran receiver using excellent blocking to zip into the end zone for a 12-yard TD with 31 seconds left in the quarter, pushing the Force's lead to 14-3.

While the Force managed to maintain the lead, they could never seem to shake Orlando, which got a strong night from former Florida quarterback Chris Leak (30-47-0, 314 yards, 5 TDs) and former N.C. State receiver Jarvis Williams (13-135 2 TDs) to stay within striking distance.

But just about every time the Predators pulled close, Hodge seemed to come up with a big catch.

First came a 3-yard TD reception that came after a Moniz pass deflected off the hands of Johnson and into Hodge's hands as he came across the back of the end zone, helping the Force push a four-point halftime lead to 35-24 just 3:27 into the third quarter.

But perhaps his biggest catch came with the Force clinging to 49-46 lead late in the game.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder out of Ole Miss caught a crossing pattern over the middle and spun past two Orlando receivers to break free for a 22-yard score that pushed the Georgia lead to 56-46 with 1:40 remaining.

The Predators still weren't done, even after the Force recovered an onside kick with 31 seconds left following Mykel Benson's 1-yard TD run that cut the Force lead to three again.

Four quick downs, aided by the AFL rule that stops the clock when no positive yardage is gained in the final minute of a game, gave Orlando one last chance.

But Bostic got a hand on Lewis' attempt of a game-tying 46-yard field goal, and the Force held on for a much-needed win.

Comments

markloefler 1 year, 9 months ago

With all due respect, when you report attendance from this team, please use the term "announced" attendance. They are inflating their numbers.

On a separate note, the in game entertainment compared to the second half of last year is awful. Couple that with the teams logo not appearing on the field anywhere, and the drop in marketing to zero, it makes a lot of us wonder if the team will be around next year.

Just some thoughts.

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