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Georgia Force game notes

February 8, 2005 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I) - Georgia Force News Release

QUICK FACTS:

Georgia Force (1-1) vs. Arizona Rattlers (1-1)

Date: February 12, 2005
Kickoff: 7:00 ET
Site: Philips Arena (18,200).
Television: FOX Sports Net (Eli Gold: play-by-play, Dave Archer: color analyst, Beau Estes: sideline reporter).
Radio: WQXI 790 AM The Zone (David Hubbard: play-by-play, Chuck Oliver: color analyst).
Coaches: Doug Plank, Georgia (1-1, 1st Year).
Todd Shell, Arizona (48-37, 7th Year).
Series Record: Arizona leads the series 1-0
@ Georgia 40, Arizona 51 (5/10/02)

THE GAME:

The Georgia Force return home to Philips Arena to host the Arizona Rattlers on Saturday, February 12 at 7:00 p.m. Arizona will be Georgia’s second straight opponent from the Western division after the Force fell 41-46 to Los Angeles last week in the STAPLES Center.

Force head coach Doug Plank will be facing his former team, as he served as the defensive coordinator for the Rattlers from 2002-2004, which included three consecutive trips to the ArenaBowl championship game.

Georgia and Arizona have not played since May 10, 2002, when the Rattlers defeated the Force 51-40 at Philips Arena.


THE OPPONENT:

The Arizona Rattlers are in their
14th year in the AFL and are
off to the 1-1 start to the 2005
season. A perennial AFL
powerhouse, the Rattlers have
reached the ArenaBowl
championship the last three
straight season but have fell
short in all three attempts. Last week, Arizona suffered their first loss of the year to Orlando 51-40.

The Rattlers are led by new head coach Todd Shell, who became just the second head coach in team history when he accepted the job this past offseason. On the field, Arizona will look to QB Joe Germaine after starter and All-Arena passer Sherdrick Bonner was placed on IR following an injury in their season opening win at Grand Rapids. Germaine’s targets will be long-time veterans WR/DB Randy Gatewood, who was the League’s 2003 Ironman of the Year, and WR/LB Hunkie Cooper, arguably one of the best two-way players in AFL history.


THE SCHEDULE:

GEORGIA FORCE (1-1)

Date OPPONENT RESULT SCORE
Jan. 30 NEW ORLEANS W 46-44
Feb. 4 @ Los Angeles L 41-46
Feb. 12 ARIZONA
Feb. 20 @ Las Vegas
Feb. 25 @ Austin
March 6 COLUMBUS
March 12 @ New York
March 19 ORLANDO
March 26 @ New Orleans
April 2 @ Tampa Bay
April 8 AUSTIN
April 15 GRAND RAPIDS
April 22 @ Orlando
BYE WEEK
May 8 TAMPA BAY
May 14 DALLAS
May 21 @ San Jose

GEORGIA FORCE NEXT WEEK:

The Force hit the road for their second cross-country trip of the season when they face the Las Vegas Gladiators on Sunday, February 20th in the Thomas & Mack Center at 6 p.m. EST. The all-time series between Georgia and Las Vegas is tied 1-1 with both home teams winning. Last year, the Force defeated the Gladiators 55-40 at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

THE FORCE THIS SEASON ARE:

1-0 at home
0-1 on the road

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

0-1 on Fridays
0-0 on Saturday
1-0 on Sundays

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

1-1 in televised games

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

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

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

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


STATISTICS:


A look how Georgia Arizona match-up on both sides of the ball based on 2005 regular season statistics:

Statistical GEORGIA ARIZONA
Category Rank Stat Rank Stat
Scoring Offense 12th 43.5 9th 49.0
Scoring Defense 8th 45.0 6th 44.5
Total Offense (yds/g) 5th 301.0 14th 243.0
Total Defense (yds/g) 11th 294.0 6th 260.5
Pass Offense 5th 280.0 12th 231.5
Pass Defense 15th 283.5 6th 231.5
Rushing Offense 8th 21.0 13th 11.5
Rushing Defense 3rd 10.5 13th 29.0
Pass Rating 4th 118.2 9th 105.7
Pass Def. Rating 8th 102.7 5th 92.0
Kickoff Returns 8th 18.3 3rd 21.9
MFG Returns T-7th 0.0 2nd 15.5
Interceptions (int-yds) 13th 1-10 9th 2-20
Turnover Margin T-12th -1 T-3rd +1
Field Goals 6th 1-2 12th 1-3
PAT Kicking 12th 10-12 11th 11-13
Sacks By (sks-yds) 14th 1-4 6th 2-9
Sacks Against (sks-yds) 6th 1-7 11th 2-10
First Downs 10th 37 14th 32
Opp. First Downs 15th 42 6th 36
Penalties (yds/gm) 11th 46.5 14th 52.5
Opp. Penalties (yds/gm) 11th 35.5 16th 29.5
Red Zone Offense T-15th 5-10 T-7th 8-10
Red Zone Defense 10th 4-5 T-8th 7-9
Time of Possession 15th 27:09 13th 27:56


CONNECTIONS:

Georgia head coach Doug Plank served as defensive coordinator for Arizona from 2002-2004, Plank also spent seven years as a analyst for the Rattlers television and radio broadcast prior to his coaching stint…Force K Nelson Garner played for the Rattlers from 2003-2004…Georgia DS Ricky Parker played for Arizona from 2000-2004…Arizona OL/DL Nikia Adderson played for the Force in 2004 and was traded to the Rattlers prior to the start of the 2005 season.

THINGS TO WATCH:


NOT PLAYING LIKE ROOKIES:

The Force might have found themselves two of the AFL’s newest stars in rookies OS Troy Bergeron and WR/LB Derek Lee.

Through the first two games of the season, Bergeron has racked up a team-high 6 receiving touchdowns on 15 catches for 207 yards. He has also added 8 kickoff returns for 165 yards. In his AFL career debut vs. New Orleans (1/30), Bergeron was named Offensive Player of the Game.

Currently, Bergeron’s 207 receiving yards ranks 6th in the AFL. He also stands 5th in the League in kickoff return yards with 165. At only 21 years old, Bergeron never played a snap of football in college. Last year, he played for the af2 Columbus Wardogs.

Derek Lee leads the Force in receptions with 16. Last week at Los Angeles (2/4), he established a new Georgia single-game record with 11 catches. Lee is currently T-5th in the AFL in receptions. On the season, he has amassed 182 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns.


GROUND ATTACK:

FB/LB Robert Thomas had a career day in the season opener vs. New Orleans (1/30) rushing for a career-high 39 yards on a career-high 8 carries, while adding 1 score on the ground.

Thomas currently sits T-5th the AFL in rushing and is T-2nd in the League for carries.

His 39 yards rushing fell just one yard shy of the Force single-game record held by Donnie Davis (40- vs. Buffalo, 7/6/02). Thomas did set a new Georgia single-game record for carries breaking the previous mark he held of 7 (vs. Las Vegas, 3/7/04).

Last week at Los Angeles (2/4), Thomas had his five-game streak of scoring at least one rushing touchdown in a game dating back to last season broken.

A TRUE DEFENSIVE SPECIALIST:

DS Kevin Gaines has quickly adapted to the aggressive and physical style of defense put in by new head coach Doug Plank. Playing as if he was a member of the famous “46 Defense” named after Plank, Gaines collared 11 tackles in the season opener vs. New Orleans (1/30).

His total for the game placed him tied for second in the Force single-game record books with Cliff Green and behind Ron Carpenter (14.5- Ron Carpenter, at Orlando, 7/13/02). Gaines is the Force’s career leader in tackles with 141 total tackles.


THANKS FOR COMING:

Despite a severe ice storm that affected Atlanta and its surrounding areas causing the Georgia vs. New Orleans game to be pushed back one day, the Force played to their largest home crowd in their four-year history this past Sunday.

An announced crowd of 11,328 fans witnessed the Force defeat the VooDoo 46-44 in their season opener at Philips Arena on January 30th. The previous record for a Force home crowd was 11,200, which happened twice with home opener sell-outs at the Arena at Gwinnett Center in 2003 and 2004.

HEAD COACHES:

DOUG PLANK, Georgia (1-1, 1st Year): On July 30, 2004, Doug Plank was announced as the new head coach of the Georgia Force becoming the fourth head coach in the team’s history. Plank comes to the Force having served as the defensive coordinator for the Arizona Rattlers from 2002-2004, which included three consecutive ArenaBowl championship game births.

Following a 3-5 start in 2004, the Rattlers turned their season around to finish with a league-tying best 11-5 record and secure the top seed in the AFL playoffs. In 2002, Plank helped guide the Rattlers defense to a number one regular season ranking in rushing defense and scoring defense. In his three years with the Rattlers, he coached four First Team All-Arena selections, two Second Team All-Arena players and four All-Ironman Team choices, including 2003 AFL Ironman of the Year Randy Gatewood.

A former member of The Ohio State University football team, Plank played in three consecutive Rose Bowls, 1973, 1974, and 1975. While at Ohio State, he played for legendary coach Woody Hayes.

Plank brings with him a wealth of football experience that includes an impressive career in the NFL. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 12th round of the 1975 NFL Entry Draft and started at safety for eight seasons. The “46 Defense” created by Buddy Ryan was named for Plank's jersey number and aggressive style of play. Plank was also the first Bears rookie to ever lead the team in tackles.

Following his playing career, Plank became a franchisee for the Burger King Corporation owning and operating 17 restaurants in three different states.

Plank's professional history also includes experience as a member of the Rattlers broadcast team. Prior to becoming defensive coordinator, he spent five years as the Rattlers' radio analyst and two seasons as their television color analyst.

His broadcasting experience also includes stints with the Arizona Cardinals, Arizona State University Football, Fox Sports Net, Westwood One and Sports USA Radio Network.

TODD SHELL, Arizona (48-37, 7th Year): On August 5, 2004, the Arizona Rattlers named Todd Shell as the second Head Coach in franchise history. Shell began his Arena Football coaching career as the first Defensive Coordinator in Rattlers history, leading the Rattler defense from 1992 until 1994, winning the ArenaBowl title in his final season with the club.

Shell became the first Head Coach in San Jose SaberCats history in 1995, and led the expansion SaberCats to an 8-4 record and the Western Division Title, the first expansion team to ever win a Division Championship. In his four seasons as Head Coach, San Jose was 29-25, making three playoff appearances.

Shell returned to Arizona in 2003 as the Color Analyst on Rattlers TV broadcasts, but he appeared on only one telecast, leaving to join the New York Dragons after Week 4. The Dragons, off to an 0-4 start, fired Head Coach John Gregory and replaced him with Shell. New York went 8-4 under Shell, finishing the year 8-8 and as the Eastern Division Champs. Following New York’s last-second win over Chicago in the Wild Card round of the AFL playoffs, Shell was named the Arena Football League’s 2003 Coach of the Year.

Shell and the Dragons defended their 2003 Division Title, winning the East again in 2004 with a 9-7 record. New York lost a tiebreaker with the Los Angeles Avengers and did not qualify for the 2004 playoffs. In his two seasons in New York, Shell compiled a record of 17-11 with two Eastern Division Championships. He also garnered a 1-1 postseason record with the Dragons.

Shell was a standout college player at BYU, where he helped lead the Cougars to three straight WAC titles from 1981 to 1983. Shell finished his career with 205 tackles and 22 quarterback sacks. He led BYU in tackles his Junior and Senior seasons. A 1984 First Round Draft Pick of the San Francisco 49ers, Shell played linebacker for five seasons in San Francisco, earning a Super Bowl ring in 1984 and 1988.

LAST TIME THESE TEAMS MET:

The Georgia Force dropped their third straight game falling to the Arizona Rattlers 51-40 at Philips Arena on Friday night. Arizona quarterback Sherdrick Bonner continued his torrid pace completing 18-of-28 passes on the night for 249 yards and four touchdowns. Bonner entered the game as one of the AFL's hottest quarterbacks throwing 20 touchdown passes through the Rattlers first three games.

Arizona's Chris Horn captured Game MVP honors catching a game-high 12 passes for 164 yards and three touchdowns. Georgia's Ben Crosland was named the game Ironman. Crosland finished the contest with one assisted tackle and one reception for two yards.

The game started with the Force attempting an onside kick giving Arizona good field position, which they converted into a 23-yard field goal and an early 3-0 lead. Georgia answered with a six-yard touchdown pass from Kevin McDougal to Darryl Hammond to give the Force a 7-3 advantage. The Rattlers regained the lead 10-7 on Bonner's second touchdown pass of the quarter, a 30-yard completion to Hunkie Cooper. Arizona's three-point lead would stand as the first quarter ended.

The Rattlers would add 14 more points before Georgia scored again. The Force had been held scoreless in the second quarter until the 4:15 mark when Travis Reece found the endzone for his AFL leading sixth rushing touchdown of the year to cut into the Arizona lead to 24-14. Georgia entered the game as the AFL's highest scoring team averaging 58.0 points per game, but had been held to 14 points over their last three quarters spanning their last two games. The Rattlers scored on a one-yard Bobby McGowens rush with 10 seconds left in the half to give Arizona a 31-14 lead that they would take into the half.

The second half opened with both teams trading possessions with turnovers. Arizona recovered a McDougal fumble, but then gave the ball back to the Force as Kelron Sykes intercepted a Bonner pass in the endzone. The third quarter ended with Arizona still holding onto a 17-point lead 37-20, as both teams scored touchdowns in the session.

Georgia outscored Arizona 20-14 in the final period, but it was not enough as the Rattlers clinched their third straight victory. McDougal registered season-highs with five touchdown passes on 23-for-35 passing for 260 yards. Georgia's Jarrick Hillery, an AFL First-Team member in 2001, had his best game of the season with seven receptions for 101 yards and one touchdown.

FORCE LAST WEEK:

LOS ANGELES, CA – The Los Angeles Avengers captured their first win of the season defeating the Georgia Force 46-41. The Avengers grabbed their first lead of the game, one they would not relinquish, on their opening drive of the third quarter when FB/LB Josh Jeffries rushed in for his second touchdown of the contest to give L.A. a 31-27 lead. The game’s key play came on the ensuing kickoff when Force OS Troy Bergeron could not field the ball cleanly off the net and Avenger DS Antuan Simmons recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown giving Los Angeles a two-score possession advantage.

Los Angeles K Remy Hamilton was named Offensive Player of the Game with an Avengers team record tying four field goals on the night. L.A. WR/DB Kevin Ingram led the Avengers with four receptions for 91 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Georgia was led by QB Jim Kubiak, who threw for 6 touchdowns on 32-of-42 passing with 319 yards and one interception. Force WR/LB Derek Lee finished the game with a game-high 11 catches for 120 yards and two scores.

The game got off to a slow start with Georgia holding a 7-3 lead after the first quarter of play. Both teams found their groove though in the second quarter as the two sides combined for 41 points in the period with the Force taking a 27-24 lead into the half. The combination of Kubiak and Bergeron picked up where they had left off from last game for Georgia connecting on three touchdowns in the first half. Georgia was able to build a 21-3 lead following a Los Angeles turnover off a bad snap, when Kubiak found Bergeron for an 11-yard score. The Avengers responded out-scoring the Force 21-6 the rest of the quarter to cut the halftime lead to three, capped with L.A. QB John Kaleo’s second touchdown pass in the quarter to Ingram with 10 seconds remaining.

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