Force fall to Pittsburgh, 58-41
Tuesday July 17, 2012
The Georgia Force came into Week 19 looking for a victory over the Pittsburgh Power to secure a spot in the Arena Football League postseason tournament, but a 58-41 loss in front of the home fans means Georgia will have to wait another week for their fate to be determined.
Force starting quarterback Bryant Moniz (13-of-31 for 184-yards, 4 TD, 2 INT) threw his first two interceptions in three starts, both picked by Christian Wise in the opening quarter, as Georgia fell behind early and was unable to overcome the first quarter deficit. Georgia was stopped on five possessions by the Pittsburgh defense while the Power offense, led by QB Andrico Hines (21-of-30 for 266-yards, 6 TD, 0 INT), scored on every possession except for their final one of the opening half when time ran out.
The Force (8-9) took possession of the ball first after the Power (5-12) won the coin toss and deferred until the second half. Moniz and Larry Shipp (3 R, 60-yards, 3 TD) hooked up with 12:50 to go in the opening stanza to take an early 6-0 advantage. After Carlos Martinez missed the extra-point try, the Power began their first possession trailing by six. Georgia would not score again until late in the second quarter.
Pittsburgh answered quickly when Hines connected with Mike Washington (9 R, 107-yards, 4 TD) to put Pittsburgh up 7-6. Wise would end the next two Force drives by picking off ‘Mighty Mo’, giving the Power DB three INTs in two weeks. Pittsburgh took advantage of both turnovers by scoring a touchdown, Washington’s second TD catch of the quarter, and a field goal from newly acquired kicker Ryan Gates to put the Power up 17-6 after one quarter.
The Force offense was stopped on their opening possession of the second quarter, the third consecutive non-scoring drive in a little over a quarter of play, which resulted in Hines carrying the rock over the goal line himself to push the Power lead to 24-6. Georgia was able to find the end zone with 7:45 remaining in the opening half when Benji McDowell ran for the score, cutting the Georgia deficit to 24-13.
A strike from Hines to PJ Berry (7 R, 92-yards, 2 TD) extended the Power lead to 31-13 as the half came to an end.
Pittsburgh took the second half kickoff and took a minute and a half to push their lead to 25-points, 38-13, when Hines got the ball to Berry for his second touchdown grab of the game. Moniz led the Force offense to pay dirt on the next drive when he and Mike Johnson (3 R, 27-yards, 1 TD) teamed up for six, but Pittsburgh responded with another TD and the D got another stop on the Force offense which led to another Berry score, this time on a reverse for one of two rushing TDs Berry had to go along with his two receiving scores, as the Power lead went to 51-20 early in the final quarter.
Down by 31 the Force fought back to cut the Power advantage to 51-34 after Moniz and Shipp connected for consecutive scores after a successful onside kick, but that would be as close as the home team would come as Hines and Washington teamed up for their fourth score of the night to lock up the win for Pittsburgh.
Georgia added another score late when CJ Johnson returned a kickoff to the house for his fourth TD return of the season to make the final tally 58-41. Johnson totaled 259-yards on eight returns (32.4 Avg.) and continues to move up the career list for both return yards and touchdowns.
Robert Durham and Mario Norman both tallied 6.0 tackles to lead the Force defense while Louis Ellis contributed 4.6 TTL that included a sack. Chris LeFlore led the Power D in tackles with 5.0 while Wise was credited with 3.0 TTL to go with his two interceptions.
The loss means the Force must win on the road next Saturday against the New Orleans VooDoo
to guarantee a playoff spot. The American Conference South is still up for grabs and the winner of the Force-VooDoo game could still win the division title. The Jacksonville Sharks
(9-8) have won two in a row and sit atop the division with New Orleans (8-9), Georgia (8-9) and Tampa Bay (8-9) all still in the battle for post season play. The Orlando Predators
(3-14) are the only team eliminated from the chase.
The Georgia Force are members of the South Division of the American Conference in the AFL. The Force play home games at the Arena at Gwinnett Center, located off I-85 on Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth.
Mike began his third season reporting on the Georgia Force in March, 2012. Coverage includes weekly game previews and recaps, exclusive interviews and AFL news. Mike has been a Gwinnett County resident (the home of the Force) for two decades and provides coverage of the counties other pro sports franchises, the Gwinnett Braves (Braves Triple-A affiliate) and the Gwinnett Gladiators (ECHL, player development deals with both the Phoenix Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres) as well.
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