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Georgia Force game notes

March 9, 2004 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I) - Georgia Force News Release


QUICK FACTS:

Georgia Force (3-2) at Orlando Predators (2-2)

Date: March 12, 2004
Kickoff: 7:30 ET
Site: TD Waterhouse Centre (16,613).
Coaches: Marty Lowe, Georgia (17-15 overall, 1-1 postseason, 3rd Year).
Jay Gruden, Orlando (45-25, 7th Year).
Series Record: Force lead the all-time series 3-1
@ Georgia 67, Orlando 49 (4/30/02)
Georgia 41, @ Orlando 40 (7/13/02)
Georgia 38, @ Orlando 36 (3/23/03)
@ Georgia 27, Orlando 38 (4/26/03)



THE GAME:

The Georgia Force head back out on the road to battle division rival the Orlando Predators on Friday, March 12th at 7:30 p.m. in the TD Waterhouse Centre. Over the three-year history of the Force, the club has been able to capture victories in each of their two visits to “The Jungle” in Orlando, in what has been traditionally one of the toughest venues in the AFL.

The Force will be looking to keep perfect streaks alive when they face the Predators this week. Since taking over the starting quarterback position in Week 11 last season, Leon Murray has a flawless 4-0 regular season record on the road. As a team, Georgia this year is 2-0 on the road, 2-0 in the month of March and 1-0 on Friday night games.

Orlando is off to a 2-2 start this season and currently riding a two game winning streak with victories over Carolina and Indiana. Under center for the Predators is a familiar face to Georgia residents, as former YellowJackets QB Joe Hamilton
begins his AFL career with Orlando. The Predators bring with them playmakers on both sides of the ball with 2003 AFL Rookie of the Year Travis McGriff on offense and former Force and pass rushing expert lineman Jermaine Smith on defense.

GEORGIA FORCE NEXT WEEK:

The Force travel out for their second straight road contest when they head to Indianapolis to face the Indiana Firebirds on Saturday, March 20th at 7:00 p.m. ET at Conseco Fieldhouse. Under new Head Coach Steve DeBerg, the Firebirds are still looking for their first win of the season at 0-5. Georgia leads the all-time series 1-0 after a 77-56 win in Indiana last year.

THE SCHEDULE:

GEORGIA FORCE (3-2)

Date OPPONENT RESULT SCORE
Feb. 7 NEW YORK L 28-54
Feb. 13 @ Tampa Bay W 70-62
Feb. 22 NEW ORLEANS L 52-55
March 1 @ Los Angeles W-OT 53-52
March 7 LAS VEGAS W 55-40
March 12 @ Orlando
March 20 @ Indiana
March 27 TAMPA BAY
April 1 @ Detroit
April 11 @ Austin
April 18 ORLANDO
April 25 SAN JOSE
BYE
May 9 @ Columbus
May 15 @ New Orleans
May 23 AUSTIN
May 30 CAROLINA


HEAD COACHES:

MARTY LOWE, Georgia (17-15 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 second 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.



JAY GRUDEN, Orlando (45-25, 7th Year): One of the most successful players and head coaches in Arena Football League history, Jay Gruden returns for his second stint with the Orlando Predators as Head Coach and Director of Football Operations. He began his Arena Football League career in 1991, as quarterback for the Tampa Bay Storm. Over the next six seasons, Gruden would lead the Storm to four World Championships. As Tampa Bay's quarterback, Gruden would throw for more than 15,000 yards and 280 touchdowns.

Gruden left the playing field after the 1996 season, signing a three-year contract to become offensive coordinator of the expansion Nashville Kats. When the Orlando Predators were searching for a new head coach after the 1997 season, they selected Gruden -- making him the youngest head coach in the Arena Football League. He would lead the Predators to two World Championships in 1997 and 2001. In August 2002, Gruden would once again surprise the league by resigning as head coach of the Predators and announcing his intention to return to the playing field -- signing a two-year deal with the Predators.

As a head coach, he owns a 43-23 record and has won a pair of titles. He ranks in the top 10 in career passing stats with more than 20,000 passing yards, close to 400 touchdowns and four AFL titles. A two-time All-Arena selection and one-time league MVP, Gruden won 15 of 18 post-season starts. He was 84-25 (.770) as a starting quarterback and (.667) as an assistant coach. Counting his 43-23 (.651) record as the head coach with the Predators, Gruden takes an all-time AFL record of 137-53 (.721) into the 2004 season. He was the first person in Arena Football League history to win an AFL title as both a player and a coach. During the 2002-2003 seasons, Gruden became the only active player who was a member of the AFL Hall of Fame. Gruden hails from a football family. His brother Jon is the head coach of the 2003 NFL champion Tampa Bay Bucs, where Jay serves as an offensive assistant. Jay won an NFL Championship ring during the Bucs' 2002 Super Bowl run. His dad Jim is a long-time NFL assistant coach and scout, having worked with Tampa Bay and San Francisco. He currently serves as a consultant with the Bucs. He was born on March 4, 1967.

CONNECTIONS:

Force Defensive Backs Coach Robert Davis played DS for the Predators in 2003…Georgia OL/DL William Carr played for Orlando in 1999…Force DS Kevin Gaines played for the Predators in 1998-1999…Georgia WR/LB Dialleo Burks played for the Orlando Rage of the XFL…Force trainer Kim Winn was an assistant athletic trainer for the Predators from 1997-99…Orlando has four players that have played for the Force: OL/DL Jermaine Smith (2002-2003), WR/DB Bret Cooper (2003), OL/DL William Gaines (2002) and FB/LB Rupert Grant (2002)…Predators OS Travis McGriff was in training camp with the Atlanta Falcons in 2002…Orlando OL/DL Doug Miller was with the Atlanta Falcons from 2000-2001…Predators quarterback Joe Hamilton attended Georgia Tech from 1996-1999 and was one of the most successful and decorated passers in school history.

THE FORCE THIS SEASON ARE:

1-2 at home
2-0 on the road

0-0 vs. Central Division
0-1 vs. Eastern Division
1-1 vs. Southern Division
2-0 vs. Western Division

1-0 on Fridays
0-0 on Saturday
1-2 on Sundays
1-0 on Mondays

1-2 in February
2-0 in March
0-0 in April
0-0 in May

1-2 in televised games on NBC

1-0 when leading at the half
1-0 when tied at the half
1-2 when trailing at the half

2-0 when leading after 3 quarters
1-0 when tied after 3 quarters
0-2 when trailing after 3 quarters

0-0 outcome 7 points or less
0-1 outcome 3 points or less
1-0 overtime games

1-0 when the Force scores first
2-2 when opponent scores first

STATISTICS:

A look how Georgia and Orlando match-up on both sides of the ball based on 2004 regular season statistics:

Statistical GEORGIA ORLANDO
Category Stat Stat
Scoring Offense 51.6 49.5
Scoring Defense 52.6 45.5
Total Offense (yds/g) 278.8 264.5
Total Defense (yds/g) 279.2 250.8
Pass Offense (yds/g) 244.2 246.3
Pass Defense (yds/g) 258.8 231.5
Rushing Offense (yds/g) 34.6 18.3
Rushing Defense (yds/g) 20.4 19.3
Kickoff Returns 18.4 14.2
Field Goals 2-9 3-5
PAT Kicking 34-35 21-22
Sacks By (sks-yds) 3-12 10-48
Sacks Against (sks-yds) 4-21 3-10
First Downs 101 75
Penalties (#/yds) 36-219 30-160
Turnover Margin +2 +3
Time of Possession 29:27 27:30

GAME AWARD WINNERS

Baby Ruth Offensive Player of the Game

WEEK TEAM PLAYER
1 New York Aaron Garcia
2 Tampa Bay Freddie Solomon
3 New Orleans Aaron Bailey
4 Los Angeles Joe Douglas
5 Georgia Leon Murray

ADT Defensive Player of the Game

WEEK TEAM PLAYER
1 New York William Holder
2 Tampa Bay Rod Williams
3 Georgia Kevin Gaines
4 Los Angeles Kevin Ingram
5 Georgia Morris Anderson

Army Ironman of the Game

WEEK TEAM PLAYER
1 Georgia Andy McCullough
2 Georgia Markeith Cooper
3 New Orleans B.J. Cohen
4 Los Angeles Greg Hopkins
5 Georgia Dameon Porter

AFL STANDINGS:

Eastern Division
W L T Pct. Pts. OP
Dallas 4 1 0 .800 265 243
Carolina 2 3 0 .400 257 254
New York 2 3 0 .400 257 243
Philadelphia 2 3 0 .400 227 214
Columbus 1 4 0 .200 218 274

Southern Division
W L T Pct. Pts. OP
New Orleans 4 1 0 .800 223 219
Austin 3 1 0 .750 196 188
Georgia 3 2 0 .600 258 263
Orlando 2 2 0 .500 198 182
Tampa Bay 2 3 0 .400 245 259

Central Division
W L T Pct. Pts. OP
Chicago 4 1 0 .800 267 218
Colorado 4 1 0 .800 232 240
Detroit 2 2 0 .500 186 176
Grand Rapids 0 5 0 .000 162 284
Indiana 0 5 0 .000 197 228

Western Division
W L T Pct. Pts. OP
San Jose 3 1 0 .750 231 193
Arizona 3 2 0 .600 226 220
Los Angeles 2 2 0 .500 220 201
Las Vegas 2 3 0 .400 238 204



AFL ON NBC:


WEEK 6 AFL ON NBC SCHEDULE, Sun., March 14th.

L.A. at Grand Rapids, 12 pm
New York at Tampa Bay, 12 pm

(all times are Eastern)



LAST WEEK VS. LAS VEGAS:

DULUTH, GA – Morris Anderson’s interception with 1:40 remaining in the game secured a 55-40 win for the Georgia Force over the visiting Las Vegas Gladiators. The pick was Anderson’s second of the quarter following his earlier interception and 41-yard return for a touchdown that gave the Force the 15-point advantage. The victory by Georgia snaps a six-game losing streak at home and was the first home win as a starting quarterback for Leon Murray in six tries.

Murray, who was named Offensive Player of the Game, completed 21-of-31 passing for 228 yards and threw five touchdowns. His main target was offensive specialist Markeith Cooper who finished the contest with 93 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions. For Las Vegas, Cornelius Bonner turned in a big performance with a game-high 129 yards receiving on seven catches and two scores.

Georgia was able to build a fourteen-point lead of 34-20 by the half due in large part by their defense play and efficient offense. The Force defense kept the Gladiators’ offensive off balanced in the first half coming up with an interception, a fumble recovery and forcing Las Vegas into two field goals. Meanwhile on offense, Georgia scored touchdowns on every one of their five possessions in the first half. The Force took the lead when Jermaine Younger rushed in from two yards out to give the Force their first advantage in any home game this season thus far. Force kicker Steve McLaughlin missed the ensuing PAT attempt leaving the score at 13-10. The miss by McLaughlin was his first of the season breaking a team-record perfect 27-for-27 PAT made streak.

Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
Las Vegas 7 13 13 7 40
Georgia 7 27 14 7 55

PASSING:
LV- Clint Dolezel, 24-41-271-4
GA- Leon Murray, 21-31-228-5

RECEIVING:
LV- Marcus Nash, 9-75-1
GA- Markeith Cooper, 9-93-2

RUSHING:
LV- Jeremy Wilkinson, 1-7-0
GA- Robert Thomas, 7-27-1

OFFENSIVE MVP: Leon Murray, Georgia
DEFENSIVE MVP: Morris Anderson, Georgia
IRONMAN: Dameon Porter, Georgia


THINGS TO WATCH:


DR. JECKLE AND MR. HYDE:

Quarterback Leon Murray would seem to have two different personalities when it comes to playing at home versus playing on the road. As a starting quarterback, Murray has a perfect 4-0 regular season record in road contests and a 1-6 record in away games during the regular season.


HOW OFFENSIVE:

Through five games this season, the Force hold the AFL’s second ranked offense. Averaging 278.8.0 total net yards a game, the Force have been able to establish their offensive attack through a balance between their passing and rushing game. Currently, Georgia ranks third in the league in rushing offense averaging 34.6 yards on the ground per game. The Force also sits ninth in the AFL in passing offense averaging 244.2 yards per game in the air.


GROUND ATTACK:

Averaging 34.6 yards a game rushing, the Force currently rank third in the league in rushing offense. QB Leon Murray is second among all quarterbacks with 55 yards rushing on 15 carries scoring four touchdowns on the ground. Murray stands eighth overall in the AFL in rushing. In addition, FB/LB Robert Thomas currently is second among all rookies in rushing with 84 yards on 18 carries and five scores. Thomas ranks fourth in the league in rushing.

FINISHING TOUCH:

This season, kicker Steve McLaughlin is 34-for-35 on PAT kicks. He started the season going a perfect 28-for-28, before missing his first of the year in Week 5 vs. Las Vegas (3/7).

Last year, McLaughlin began the season connecting on his first 18 PAT attempts before his first miss. Later in 2003, he strung together a streak of 13 straight PATs made including a Force single-game record 11-for-11 at Indiana (5/4/03).

McLaughlin’s leg also played a huge role in the Force’s 53-52 overtime victory at Los Angeles (3/1) earlier this season. With three seconds remaining in regulation, McLaughlin connected on a 50-yard field goal as time expired to even the score at 45-45 and push the game into the extra session. At the time, his 50-yard make stood as the longest in the AFL converted this season.

ALL-AROUND GAME:

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 game’s Ironman of the Game and later honored as the AFL’s Offensive Player of the Week.

Cooper is currently tied for seventh in the AFL for leading scorer non-kickers with 66 points through five games. He is also tied for the AFL lead for most points scored in a single-game with 30.


DID YOU KNOW:

Head Coach Marty Lowe:
- At age 32, is the second 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.

- Marty’s 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 5’7”, Cooper is one of the shortest players in the Arena Football League.

- Earned a roster spot with the team from the club’s 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 Force’s 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 Force’s 2002 roster.

- Is the younger brother of Lamont Cooper, one of the best AFL players in the league’s history and two time AFL Don’t 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.

- Heading into the 2004 season, stood sixth overall in AFL history for career points by a kicker with 668, sixth in AFL history for most one point PAT’s with 407, ranked sixth in AFL history for most three-point field goals with 87, stood sixth in league history in most one-point PAT attempts with 449, sits 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 FOX’s television show “Party of Five”.

QB Leon Murray:
- Burst on to the Arena Football League scene after starting the season as the Force’s 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 AFL’s All-Rookie team and was voted the Force’s 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 AFL’s 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).

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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