The Force pulled out a narrow victory against the Orlando Predators with a final game score of 56-53 in the Arena Football League’s Week 17 contest held at The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Georgia. 5,341 arena football fans escaped the scorching Georgia heat to watch the critical divisional match-up.
The game had a somewhat uneventful start, with the first score of the game not occurring until QB Bryant Moniz found WR CJ Johnson for a 28 yard touchdown pass with roughly 8 minutes left in the first quarter. On Orlando’s second drive, the Predators responded with a 6 yard field goal by K Mark Lewis. With only 22 seconds left in the first quarter, Moniz threw a 13 yard touchdown pass to WR Larry Shipp, pulling the Force lead up to 14-3.
The Preds pulled out the first score of the second quarter, with a 7 yard touchdown pass from QB Chris Leak to WR Jarvis Williams, narrowing the Georgia lead to 4 points. With 7 minutes left in the second, the Force pulled their ahead with a 9 yard touchdown from Moniz to WR Shay Hodge. Orlando responded with a 18 touchdown pass from Leak to WR Antoine Toliver. With 33 seconds left in the half, FB Benji McDowell rushed for a 2 yard touchdown, pulling the Force lead up to 28-17. With only 9 seconds left, the Predators managed a 13 yard touchdown pass from Leak to WR Glen Fox to close out the first half.
The first score of the second half came roughly four minutes into the third quarter with a 4 yard touchdown pass from Moniz to Hodge. With five minutes left in the third quarter, the Predators narrowed the Force lead with a 13 yard touchdown pass from Moniz to Fox. Shortly after, Orlando went for a 2 point conversion, and were quickly stopped by DB Robert Durham. To close out the third quarter, Moniz threw WR Mike Johnson a 3 yard touchdown pass, furthering the Force lead to 42-30.
To start off the fourth quarter, Leak threw a 3 yard touchdown pass to former Force player, FB Mykel Benson. Moniz quickly found Hodge, his favorite target of the night, for a 34 yard touchdown pass. With approximately 5 minutes left in the game, Orlando narrowed the Georgia lead to 49-46 with a 6 yard touchdown pass from Leak to Williams. With 1:10 left in the game, the Force managed a 23 yard touchdown pass from Moniz to Hodge. The Predators came out with a late surge with a 1 yard touchdown pass from Leak to Benson, making the contest a 3 point game with only 30 seconds left. The Force held on to their lead, however, defeating the Predators 56-53.
Riddell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game: Bryant Moniz, Georgia
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game: Robert Durham, Georgia
JLS Ironman of the Game: CJ Johnson, Georgia
AFL Playmaker of the Game:Shay Hodge, Georgia
Cutters Catch of the Game: Jarvis Williams’ 6 yard TD pass in the 4th quarter
Spalding Highlight of the Game: Hodge’s 4th quarter TD
National Guard MVP: Shay Hodge, Georgia
This Force have a bye in the Arena Football League’s Week 18. The Force will take on the Pittsburgh Power on July 14th at 7 p.m. EST at The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Georgia. The game will be televised live on WSB’s MeTV 2.2, channel 248 on Comcast and Charter channel 126. The game will also be streamed live on Ustream.