Force falter in 57-35 loss to VooDoo

DULUTH -- A very uneven 2012 season took a downward turn for the Georgia Force on Saturday night against the New Orleans VooDoo.

Kurt Rocco threw for 293 yards and seven touchdowns, three of which went to Josh Bush, while Demarcus Robinson had two of New Orleans' four interceptions on the night as the visiting VooDoo rolled past the Force 57-35 before 3,372 fans at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

The loss dropped the Force (6-6) into a second-place tie with Tampa Bay, a half-game back of division-leading Jacksonville a half-game ahead of fourth-place New Orleans (5-6) in the Arena Football League's tightly-packed South Division.

And it was the continuation of a season-long trend of inconsistency for the Force.

"We are what we are," Georgia coach Dean Cokinos said. "We're a young team that's going to go up and down. Things don't go our way, we fall apart. There is no in between. We're either going to play lights out, or we're going to be who we are right now."

Things didn't go the Force's way from the onset of Saturday's game.

Just one snap after Carlos Martinez's opening kickoff sailed out of bounds, Rocco, who completed 21 of 24 passes on the night, found a wide-open Quorey Payne for a 30-yard scoring strike that gave the VooDoo a 7-0 lead just 25 seconds into the game.

And matters didn't get any better after R.J. Archer was picked off by Robinson four plays into the Force's first possession.

It took New Orleans seven plays to cash in when Rocco hooked up with Bush on a 3-yard TD pass to extend the VooDoo lead to 14-0 with 7:30 left in the first quarter and put the Force into catch-up mode the rest of the evening.

"Whether we're playing catch-up or not, it basically comes down to us not executing," said receiver Larry Shipp, who was one of the bright spots for the Force on the evening with three touchdowns, two receiving and one rushing. "When we look at the film, we'll see how we left so many plays on the field. ... If we make those plays, it's a different ball game (Saturday) night."

The Force got back into the game on their next possession when C.J. Johnson capped a seven-play, 46-yard drive by grabbing a throw from Archer on a crossing pattern and squeezing between a New Orleans defender and the left sidewall into the end zone for 6-yard score, pulling Georgia within 14-7 at the 2:07 mark.

But a 30-yard return of the ensuing kickoff by Bush and a 10-yard penalty tacked onto the end of it, plus another Georgia penalty on the next snap, put the VooDoo in business to regain momentum.

And they did just that two plays later when Rocco sneaked in from a yard out, giving New Orleans its two-touchdown lead back at 21-7 with two seconds left in the opening quarter.

But the biggest momentum swing came late in the first half.

The Force has driven as deep as the New Orleans 4-yard line, but turned the ball over on downs after four straight incomplete passes, giving the VooDoo the ball back with 3:17 left in the half.

It looked like Georgia might get another shot when Mario Norman intercepted a Rocco pass in the end zone four plays later, but the Force were penalized 5 yards for illegal defense.

And the VooDoo took advantage of the break two plays later when Rocco found Brad Paul on a tackle eligible for a 13-yard TD pass with 18 seconds left, sending New Orleans into intermission with a 34-14 lead.

"That stop before the half, when it got called back, changed the game," Cokinos said. "They went in and scored, and we didn't score. That really changed the game. ... Penalties and turnovers will kill you."

Even when the Force tried to get back into the game with Shipp's 1-yard TD run on a reverse just 4:41 into the third quarter, New Orleans had a quick answer.

Rocco connected with Bush for the third time on the evening just four plays into the next possession, this time from 27 yards out to give the VooDoo their three-possession lead back at 40-21 with 7:26 left in the period.

New Orleans then put the game away when Alvin Ray Jackson came up with another interception of Archer, with the Rocco eventually turned into another TD pass -- this one a 13-yard strike to L.J. Castile with 59 seconds left in the quarter to balloon the VooDoo lead to 47-21.