The Utah Blaze outscored Georgia 21-3 in a decisive 2nd quarter on way to a 61-38 win over the Force Saturday night in an Arena Football League contest at the EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, UT.
The Force took a 7-6 lead late in the first quarter on a 1-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Bryant Moniz to Michael Johnson. Utah bounced back with three touchdowns in the second quarter, while holding the Force to a field goal, to take a 27-10 lead at the half.
The Force was able to pull within ten points of Utah twice in the second half, the latest coming in the fourth quarter when Jeremy Grier scored on a 1-yard toss sweep to make the score 41-31, but that was as close as the Force (7-8) would come to catching the Blaze (10-5).
Force quarterback Bryant Moniz completed 27 of 47 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns. His top receiver was C.J. Johnson who caught 11 passes for 127 yards. Georgia’s top receiving threat, Larry Shipp, was held to only 2 catches for 9 yards and one touchdown.
Utah quarterback Tommy Grady completed 25 of 28 passes for 306 yards and 8 touchdowns. His final touchdown pass, with 14 seconds left in the game, marked his 118th touchdown pass of the season, a new AFL single-season record.
The Force return home next weekend to battle their division rivals the Orlando Predators (2-12) on Sunday, July 1st at 3:00pm ET at the The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, GA. The game will be televised locally on WSB’s MeTV 2.2 as well as streamed live on Ustream.
After falling to the Chicago Rush in Rosemont, Illinois this past weekend, the Force coaches and players are making the necessary adjustments to push for a successful next four games. These last four games against Utah, Orlando, Pittsburgh, and New Orleans are each critical match-ups for the Force; losing just one game could potentially put an end to Georgia’s run to the ArenaBowl XXV. Despite the loss to the Rush, the Force are currently in first place in the South Division, with the Jacksonville Sharks, New Orleans VooDoo, and Tampa Bay Storm all trailing closely behind at a tie for second place.
The Force were faced with a significant amount of injuries during the contest against the Rush on Saturday. On defense, DB’s Ahmad Hawkins and Marrio Norman were both forced to leave the game at different times. On offense, WR CJ Johnson had to leave the game in the third quarter, and QB RJ Archer dealt with an injury that forced him to miss two series. Despite the injury, Johnson was still able to earn the Spalding Highlight of the Week award from the Arena Football League for his 53 yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half of the game. On another positive note, QB Bryant Moniz was cleared from injured reserve at the end of last week and has been added back to the active roster. The coaches are now anxiously awaiting to hear the prognosis of Hawkins, CJ Johnson, Norman, and Mike Johnson from the team’s medical staff.
“The bottom line is that we now have a four game season and we control our own destiny,” explained head coach Dean Cokinos. “We have lacked continuity with the roster and have been very inconsistent throughout the year. We have had steady play and growth on defense, even with all the injuries in the secondary. However, this is arena football, and it is vital that our offense executes at a higher and more consistent level for the remainder of the season for
us to have a chance to compete for the division and the #2 play-off seed.”
The Force will remain on the road this weekend, facing the Utah Blaze on Saturday, June 23rd at 9 p.m. EST at the EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. The showdown will be streamed live on Ustream.