Georgia Force game notes
New Orleans VooDoo (2-0) at Georgia Force (1-1)
Date: February 22, 2004
Kickoff: 3:00 ET
Site: Arena at Gwinnett Center (11,200).
Television: NBC (Allen Bestwick: play-by-play, Mike Pawlawski: color analyst).
Radio: WQXI 790 AM The Zone (David Hubbard: play-by-play, Chuck Oliver: color analyst).
WPLO 610 AM RadioMex (Jose Medellin: play-by-play, Marcelo Godoy: color analyst).
Coaches: Marty Lowe, Georgia (15-14 overall, 1-1 postseason, 3rd Year).
Mike Neu, New Orleans (2-0, 8-9 overall, 1st Year).
Series Record: This will be the first meeting between the two teams.
The Georgia Force will play their second straight Southern Division contest when they host the expansion New Orleans VooDoo on Sunday, February 22nd at 3:00 p.m. in the Arena at Gwinnett Center. The Force will be looking to capture an early lead in the division after defeating the defending AFL World Champion Tampa Bay Storm 70-62 last week.
The 70-point scoring output by Georgia tied the second highest point total in club history, this after only scoring 28 points in the season opener versus New York. The 70 points were the second-most points ever given up by Tampa Bay and marked just the second time the Storm have given 70 or more points in a game. The Storm also lost for the first time ever when scoring 60 or more points.
The New Orleans VooDoo are one of three new expansion teams to join the AFL in 2004. Owner Tom Benson, who also owns the New Orleans Saints, has seen early success as the VooDoo are off to a 2-0 start this season with wins over
Philadelphia and Indiana. Former Force
fullback/linebacker Dan Curran has paved the way for New Orleans as he currently leads the league in rushing with 49 yards on eight carries and has scored a league leading four rushing touchdowns through the first two games of the season. Last week, Curran scored on a one-yard touchdown run as time expired to lift the VooDoo over the Firebirds.
GEORGIA FORCE NEXT WEEK:
The Force head back out on the road when they travel to Los Angeles to face the L.A. Avengers on Monday, March 1st at 10:30 p.m. ET at the Staples Center. Over the last two seasons, the road team has claimed victory in each contest with the Force winning in 2003 in L.A. 46-35. The Avengers are off to a 2-0 start this season securing wins over Arizona and Las Vegas.
GEORGIA FORCE (1-1)
Date OPPONENT RESULT SCORE
Feb. 7 NEW YORK L 28-54
Feb. 13 @ Tampa Bay W 70-62
Feb. 22 NEW ORLEANS
March 1 @ Los Angeles
March 7 LAS VEGAS
March 12 @ Orlando
March 20 @ Indiana
March 27 TAMPA BAY
April 1 @ Detroit
April 11 @ Austin
April 18 ORLANDO
April 25 SAN JOSE
May 9 @ Columbus
May 15 @ New Orleans
May 23 AUSTIN
May 30 CAROLINA
New Orleans Head Coach Mike Neu served on the same coaching staff with the Nashville Kats as Force Head Coach Marty Lowe, Assistant Head Coach Bob Kronenberg and was on the same Carolina Cobras coaching staff with Force Assistant Line and Special Teams Coach Brennen Booth Five VooDoo players played with the Force Dan Curran (2002-2003), Bruce McClure (2002-2003), Adam Metts (2003), Sean Powell (2003), Tremaine Neal (practice squad 2003).
FORCE FANS PUT A LITTLE BLACK MAGIC ON N.O.:
Fans Encouraged To Stick Pins In Four-Foot Tall VooDoo voodoo doll and put the Force in the Guinness Book of World Records
ATLANTA, GA. The Georgia Force, of the Arena Football League, is calling on all Force fans from around the state of Georgia to help welcome one of the AFLs new expansion teams and Southern Division rival the New Orleans VooDoo, by placing pins in the Forces New Orleans VooDoo voodoo doll. The Force are looking to set the Guinness Book of World Records for the most pins in a voodoo doll. As the team makes their on-field preparations for their game versus the New Orleans on Sunday, February 22nd at 3:00 p.m. in the Arena at Gwinnett Center, they are asking all Force fans to show their support and help curse the VooDoo and help the Force to victory.
The four-foot tall New Orleans VooDoo voodoo doll will be located at Olde Town Tavern & Grill in Lawrenceville beginning on Monday, February 16th through Saturday, February 21st. Force fans are encouraged to stop by and place their pins in the voodoo doll. Pins will be provided at Olde Town Tavern & Grill for Force fans or they may bring their own. The voodoo doll will then make its way to the Arena at Gwinnett Center where fans can place their pins in the doll one last time before kickoff on Sunday.
Its great that the New Orleans VooDoo joined the AFL this season and that they and the Force are in the Southern Division, explained Force General Manager Eddie Rockwell. This way we can continue the traditional rivalry that has existed between Atlanta and New Orleans. In that spirit, we are encouraging our fans to welcome the VooDoo Force style and make the record books.
FORCE TO HONOR GEORGIA TECH LEGENDS:
ATLANTA, GA. When Southern Division rival and undefeated New Orleans VooDoo travel to play the Georgia Force on Sunday, February 22nd at 3:00 p.m. in the Arena at Gwinnett Center, there will be one former NFL Rookie of the Year, one former MVP of an NFL Championship Game and over 30 former All-Americas on the field. The Force will salute Georgia Tech football with a halftime tribute at the game against the expansion VooDoo.
Some of the many Georgia Tech legends in attendance will be:
Taz Anderson (1961 NFL Rookie of the Year wit the St. Louis Cardinals), James Arnett, Ray Beck (All-America), Don Bessilliei, James Breland (All-America), George Broadnax, Chris Brown, John Davis, Charles Floyd, Greg Gathers, George Godsey, Joe Harris, Leon Hardeman (All-America), Andrew Hill, Eddie Lee Ivery (All-America and set the all-time Tech regular season game record for rushing), Robert Lavette, Jerry May, Eddie McShann, Wade Mitchell (All-America), George Morris (All-America), Larry Morris (All-America and Most Valuable Player in the NFL Championship Game for the Chicago Bears in 1963), Jeremy Muyres, Jon Muyres, Craig Page, Kelley Rhino, Randy Rhino, Nick Rogers, Phillip Rogers, Lucius Sanford (All-America), Doug Sims, Lenny Snow (All-America), James Stevens, Ryan Stewart, Ken Swilling, Ben Utt, Carl Vereen and Jack Williams.
Having the opportunity to honor the football legends of the University of Georgia at our home opener and now the legends of Georgia Tech football has been a thrill for our organization, said Force Owner and Chief Executive Officer Virgil Williams. We had an overwhelming response from our fans who enjoyed the UGA halftime. As a Georgia Tech alumni, it is going to be a exciting for me to see all these players together again and help them in becoming fans of Arena Football.
MARTY LOWE, Georgia (15-14 overall, 1-1 postseason, 3rd Year): Marty Lowe concluded his second season and first full year as Head Coach with the Georgia Force in 2003, guiding the team to a record eight wins and leading the club to its first postseason appearance. At 32 years old (9/21/71), Lowe is the youngest head coach in the Arena Football League.
Despite being hampered by injuries all season in 2003, the Force jumped out to a 6-2 mark to start the year and was able to ride the strength of its league-leading defense to advance to the Quarterfinal Round of the playoffs. Lowe, a former AFL quarterback himself, helped pave the way for rookie Leon Murray to emerge as one of the league's rising stars after the loss of two starting quarterbacks during the year. Following the season, Murray was named to the AFL's All-Rookie Team.
In 2002, Lowe replaced Robert Lyles, who was relieved of his duties following the Force's 1-4 start. Under his direction, the Force finished the year winning five of their last eight games in the team's inaugural season.
Prior to joining the Force, Lowe served as running back coach for the University of Texas-El Paso. Lowe's coaching career in the Arena Football League started when he joined the Nashville Kats as an offensive assistant in March 2000 after spending three seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Louisville. With the Kats, Lowe had Nashville's offense clicking on all cylinders in the 2000 playoffs, scoring more than 50 points in each of the team's first three post-season contests to quality for Arena Bowl XIV. Lowe went on to serve as the Kats offensive coordinator and assistant coach, where his duties included creating and implementing the offensive game plan and coaching the team's wide receivers and quarterbacks.
Lowe, who played quarterback at the University of Louisville from 1991-95, spent two seasons in the Arena Football League. He played quarterback for the St. Louis Stampede in 1996 and joined the Texas Terrors. He was a starter at Texas until a knee injury ended his playing career.
In college, he started 22 consecutive games for the Cardinals, passing for 2,268 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior in 1995. He is one of only four passers in Louisville history to throw for more than 2,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. Lowe joined the Louisville coaching staff in 1997, breaking down practice and game tape. A native of Chattanooga, Lowe was Mr. Football in Tennessee as a senior at Red Bank High School in 1990. Marty and wife Michelle have two children, son Bryce and daughter Reece.
MIKE NEU, New Orleans (2-0, 8-9 overall, 1st Year): On June 17, 2003, the New Orleans VooDoo took one of the first and biggest steps in franchise history when they named Mike Neu Head Coach. Neu, a former college and professional quarterback and five-year Arena coaching veteran, comes to the VooDoo after serving as the head coach of the AFL Carolina Cobras in 2002.
In 2002, Neu guided the Cobras to a club-record 5-2 record on the road and their second-straight postseason berth. Carolina also posted the first playoff victory in club history (a 72-64 win at Grand Rapids) as the club featured the AFLs fourth-ranked defense.
As offensive coordinator in 2001 before being promoted to head coach, the Cobras averaged over 56 points a game (fifth in the league) and finished 7-7, improving from a 3-13 record the year before.
Prior to joining Carolina, Neu served as Head Coach and Director of Football Operations for the Augusta Stallions of AFL2 in 2000. He had a stunning rookie season as a head coach, leading the Stallions to a 14-4 record and the American Conference title. Augusta finished in the top four in every major offensive and defensive category and Neu was named the Coach of the Year.
Neu began his coaching career in 1994 as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Ball State. His pro playing career started with a stint with the CFL Calgary Stampeders in 1995 before Neu joined the AFLs Orlando Predators in 1996. He moved on to the Nashville Kats in 1997.
His Arena coaching career started in 1998, when Neu served as quarterbacks coach for the Kats and handled all play-calling responsibilities for the offense. The next year he was promoted to offensive coordinator and the Kats made their third-straight playoff appearance. The team also set franchise highs in six offensive categories, including scoring and total offense.
Neu played for four seasons at Ball State (Ind.), where he was named the MAC Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year as a senior in 1993. A four-year starter, Neu guided Ball State to the conference championship his final year and holds school career passing records in yards, attempts, completions and touchdowns.
Neu and his wife Charmin, have a daughter, Graycen and a son, Carson.
A look how Georgia and New Orleans match-up on both sides of the ball based on 2004 regular season statistics:
Statistical GEORGIA NEW ORLEANS
Category Stat Stat
Scoring Offense 49 41.5
Scoring Defense 58 37
Total Offense (yds/g) 263.0 241.0
Total Defense (yds/g) 282.5 238.0
Pass Offense (yds/g) 232.5 214.0
Pass Defense (yds/g) 266.0 214.5
Rushing Offense (yds/g) 30.5 27.0
Rushing Defense (yds/g) 16.5 23.5
Kickoff Returns 22.7 13.8
Field Goals 0-4 0-4
PAT Kicking 14-14 9-11
Sacks By (sks-yds) 3-13 0-0
Sacks Against (sks-yds) 2-16 0-0
First Downs 35 38
Penalties (#/yds) 13-82 13-84
Turnover Margin +1 +1
Time of Possession 29:51 31:07
GAME AWARD WINNERS
Baby Ruth Offensive Player of the Game
WEEK TEAM PLAYER
1 New York Aaron Garcia
2 Tampa Bay Freddie Solomon
ADT Defensive Player of the Game
WEEK TEAM PLAYER
1 New York William Holder
2 Tampa Bay Rod Williams
Army Ironman of the Game
WEEK TEAM PLAYER
1 Georgia Andy McCullough
2 Georgia Markeith Cooper
AFL ON NBC:
WEEK 3 AFL ON NBC SCHEDULE, Sat., Feb. 22nd.
San Jose at Los Angeles, 3 pm
Colorado at Chicago, 3 pm
Tampa Bay at Austin, 3 pm
New Orleans at Georgia, 3 pm
Dallas at New York, 3 pm
(all times are Eastern)
THE FORCE THIS SEASON ARE:
0-1 at home
1-0 on the road
0-0 vs. Central Division
0-1 vs. Eastern Division
1-0 vs. Southern Division
0-0 vs. Western Division
1-0 on Fridays
0-0 on Saturday
0-1 on Sundays
1-1 in February
0-0 in March
0-0 in April
0-0 in May
0-1 in televised games on NBC
0-0 when leading at the half
1-0 when tied at the half
0-1 when trailing at the half
0-0 when leading after 3 quarters
1-0 when tied after 3 quarters
0-1 when trailing after 3 quarters
0-0 outcome 7 points or less
0-0 outcome 3 points or less
0-0 overtime games
1-0 when the Force scores first
0-1 when opponent scores first
THINGS TO WATCH:
Offensive Specialist Markeith Cooper set a new Force team record for most single game all-purpose yards with 270 at Tampa Bay (2/13). Cooper had 132 receiving yards on five receptions and four touchdowns through the air and added 138 kickoff return yards on five returns against the Storm. With eight seconds remaining in the first half, Cooper returned a kickoff 55 yards to tie the score at 35-35 at the break and keep the Force in the game. For his efforts, Cooper was named the games Ironman of the Game and later honored as the AFLs Offensive Player of the Week.
Cooper is currently tied for second in the AFL for leading scorer with 42 points through two games. He is also tied for the AFL lead for most points scored in a game with 30.
Kicker Steve McLaughlin is a perfect 14-for-14 this season on PAT kicks. Last year, McLaughlin began the season connecting on his first 18 PAT attempts before his first miss. Later that season, he strung together a streak of 13 straight PATs made including a Force single-game record 11-for-11 at Indiana (5/4/03).
DID YOU KNOW:
Head Coach Marty Lowe:
- At age 32, is the youngest head coach in the Arena Football League.
- Played two seasons in the AFL with St. Louis and Texas before knee injuries ended his career short.
- Played quarterback at the University of Louisville with current Force DS Kevin Gaines and Atlanta Falcon Ray Buchanan.
- Martys son, Bryce Elway Lowe, is named after NFL great and Colorado Crush co-owner John Elway.
UGA Athletic Director Vince Dooley:
- Serves as Chairman of the Georgia Force Advisory Board.
- Arena Football is one of the fastest growing sports in America and here in Georgia, said Dooley. I have been impressed with the great longevity of the AFL as it is entering into its 18th season and I am pleased that I'll have the opportunity to advise and consult with the Force as I continue my primary responsibility as Athletic Director at UGA for the next six months. The AFL has passed the test of time and that is what differentiates it from the other football leagues that have come and gone."
Dooley added, I know the passion that this state and community has for football and the Georgia Force is very attractive as a quality family oriented sports option. When I look at the Georgia Force, I see all the characteristics of a first-class winning organization. I am happy to now have the opportunity to be involved with the Force as I continue my role of Athletic Director at the University of Georgia.
OL/DL Bruce Adrine:
- Adrine is one of 14 former University of Georgia defensive players from the 2000 roster playing professional football. Included in that group are New England Patriot Richard Seymour, Pittsburgh Steeler Kendrell Bell and Jacksonville Jaguar Marcus Stroud.
WR/LB Dialleo Burks:
- Played his first two seasons in the AFL with the Dallas Desperados and this past offseason signed with teammate Andy McCullough with the Force. Andy and Dialleo made up two-thirds of the Desperados offensive attack that finished the 2003 season ranked first in total offense and fifth in scoring.
- In 2003 established new team records for catches, receiving yards and touchdowns for a season.
- Finished last year with a career-high and team-record 102 catches for a career-high and team-record 1,226 yards and a career-high and team-record 28 touchdowns.
- Missed the final six games of the 2002 season with a fractured wrist after putting up numbers that would have made him a strong candidate for AFL Rookie of the Year.
OL/DL William Carr:
- Owns and operates his own clothing line named Will-O Wear, which designs and creates all lines of clothing including outfitting high school football teams.
OS Markeith Cooper:
- Listed at 57, Cooper is one of the shortest players in the Arena Football League.
- Earned a roster spot with the team from the clubs open player tryouts in 2002. Was working for UPS at the time loading trucks, and impressed the coaching staff running a 4.2 40-yard dash at the tryouts.
- In the Forces Quarterfinal Round playoff game at San Jose last season, he racked up 153 yards on five kickoff returns including a 56-yard touchdown return. His efforts helped Georgia establish a new AFL playoff record for kickoff return yards in a game with 312 yards.
- Only one of two players (other Cliff Green) remaining from the Forces 2002 roster.
- Is the younger brother of Lamont Cooper, one of the best AFL players in the leagues history and two time AFL Dont Blink! Player of the Year.
K Steve McLaughlin:
- Named Kicker of the Month for March 2003.
- Set Force team record for the longest field goal, 51-yarder at Las Vegas (3/29) and most single-game PATs made with 11 at Indiana (5/4).
- Led all kickers in 2001 with 152 points, which also put him ninth overall in scoring.
- Stands sixth overall in AFL history for career points by a kicker with 668.
- Currently sixth in AFL history for most one point PATs with 407.
- Ranks sixth in AFL history for most three-point field goals with 87.
- Stands sixth in league history in most one-point PAT attempts with 449.
- Ranks fourth in the league record books for most three-point field goal attempts with 190.
- Was a third round selection by the St. Louis Rams in 1995.
- Fronts an alternative band named Pet the Fish, which has opened for The Dave Matthews Band and appeared in FOXs television show Party of Five.
QB Leon Murray:
- Burst on to the Arena Football League scene after starting the season as the Forces third string quarterback. Up until his first AFL start, had not started a game in three years since being named the Ohio Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year at Tennessee State.
- Despite only playing in eight games, finished the regular season ranked seventh in the league in passer rating with a 115.9 rating and ranked ninth in the AFL in pass completion percentage at 62.1.
- Led the Force to their first-ever postseason appearance and victory over of the Dallas Desperados on the road.
- Was named to the AFLs All-Rookie team and was voted the Forces Co-Offensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year by the players and coaches.
- Established new team single game records for passing yards (354) and touchdowns (8) last season.
WR/DB Dameon Porter:
- Was named the AFLs Ironman of the Year and Breakout Player of the Year after the 2001 season.
- Is a two-time first-team all-Arena selection.
- Had 22 interceptions over the 2002 and 2001 seasons, breaking the league record for highest two-year total (previously 21 by Orlando's Kenny McEntyre in 2000-2001).
- His 156 interception return yards in 2002 represented the 2nd-highest mark for a season in the league's record book.
- Is only the second player in history to lead the league in interceptions two consecutive years (2001-2002). Orlando's Kenny McEntyre led the AFL in 1999 (7) and 2000 (11) Durwood Roquemore, a member of the AFL Hall of Fame, also led the league in interceptions twice (1990, 1994).
FB/LB Robert Thomas:
- Longtime NFL veteran with the Dallas Cowboys (1998-2002), who played both fullback and linebacker during his NFL tenure.
- Helped lead the way as Emmitt Smith ran for 109 yards on 24 carries and became the NFL's all-time leading rusher with an 11-yard run in the fourth quarter versus Seattle (10/27/02).
- Made a name for himself as a rookie free agent with small school experience, but he has also survived a major career change, moving from linebacker to fullback. In a very short period of time, he went from being a reserve middle linebacker to the lead blocker for Emmitt Smith as the Cowboys starting fullback.
- Is an avid bowler and averages a score of 205. He once rolled a 275 (300 is a perfect game).
LAST WEEK AT TAMPA BAY:
TAMPA, FL Georgia Force quarterback Leon Murray rushed in from eight yards out on fourth down to give the Force the lead with 24 remaining in the game as the Force captured their first victory in club history against the defending AFL World Champion Tampa Bay Storm. The 70-62 victory was sealed by the Force defense, when Nikia Adderson forced a fumble of Storm quarterback Shane Stafford that was recovered for a touchdown by Stacy Evans.
The game was highlighted by performances by each teams quarterbacks and offensive specialist. Murray threw for 261 yards completing 19-of-34 passes and five touchdowns while Stafford passed for 304 yards on 25-of-34 and eight TDs. Force offensive specialist Markeith Cooper, honored as the games Ironman of the Game, set a new Force team record with 270 all-purpose. He recorded 132 receiving on five receptions and caught four touchdown passes and added 138 kickoff return yards on five returns and a touchdown. Tampa Bays Freddie Solomon, named the contests Offensive Player of the Game, registered a game-high five touchdown receptions while tallying 119 receiving yards on eight catches.
In the first half, Tampa Bay grabbed a late 35-28 lead with 17 seconds remaining before Cooper returned the ensuing kickoff 55 yards for the tying score at the break.
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
Georgia Force 21 14 14 21 70
Tampa Bay 14 21 14 13 62
TB- Shane Stafford, 25-34-304-8
GA- Leon Murray, 19-34-261-5
TB- Freddie Solomon, 8-119-5
GA- Markeith Cooper, 5-132-4
TB- David White, 4-12
GA- Leon Murray, 4-22-2
OFFENSIVE MVP: Freddie Solomon, Tampa Bay
DEFENSIVE MVP: Rod Williams, Tampa Bay
IRONMAN: Markeith Cooper, Georgia
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