Force, Eakin face crossroads tonight vs. Tampa Bay

The Georgia Force's up-and-down 2012 season faces another crossroads game when the Tampa Bay comes to The Arena at Gwinnett Center tonight for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

A win by the Force (4-4) would not only give them their elusive first winning streak of the season, but also tie the Storm (5-3) for the Arena Football League's South Division lead -- and would give them the tiebreaker if that win comes by more than three points.

A loss would send them two games off the lead and searching for answers again.

"That's the story of our season so far," Force coach Dean Cokinos said. "We haven't strung two (good) games together, and the bottom line is, we've got to go out and play."

The Force will have to play tonight without starting quarterback R.J. Archer, who is experiencing a unique opportunity for an AFL signal caller after being invited to mini-camp with the NFL's Detroit Lions this weekend.

With the 6-foot-2, 225-pound, second-year quarterback out of William and Mary, who has thrown for 1,352 yards and 34 TDs, not due to return to Georgia until Sunday, the Force will turn to back-up Kevin Eakin, who has completed 34 of 60 passes for 342 yards and 5 TDs in limited action. Cokinos said last year's starter Brett Elliott, who is actually still on the team's roster even though he has not dressed this season, could be activated to serve as a back-up, though he also added there are other options available.

Eakin quarterbacked the club during its Arena Cup season in 2008, when it was known as the Alabama Vipers, so Cokinos has every confidence in his ability.

"He's played a game and a half for us (this year)," Cokinos said of Eakin. "He won a championship with us. He's a veteran pro quarterback."

No matter who is under center, Cokinos continues to look for consistency from the Force offense, which has been brilliant at times -- as in wins of 69-41 over Jacksonville and 70-48 over Chicago, as well as late in last week's 55-52 win at Pittsburgh -- and maddening at times -- as in a two-week stretch that saw Georgia post just a combined 51 points in losses to Orlando and Arizona.

"The offense has been so up and down," Cokinos said. "We've scored in the 50s and 60s (one week), and then we'd struggle (the next). Our offense has function for us to win (tonight). That's our focus."