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Georgia Force game notes

January 25, 2006 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I) - Georgia Force News Release

QUICK FACTS

Orlando Predators (0-0) at Georgia Force (0-0)

Date: January 28, 2006
Kickoff: 7:00 ET
Site: Philips Arena (18,200)
Television: Comcast Sports South (CSS) (Eli Gold and Charles Davis)
Radio: WQXI 790 AM The Zone (David Hubbard: play-by-play, Chuck Oliver: color analyst)
Coaches: Doug Plank, Georgia (13-6, 2nd Year)
Jay Gruden, Orlando (64-37, 7th Year)
Series Record: Georgia leads the regular season series 5-3
Georgia leads postseason series 1-0

THE OPPONENT
The Orlando Predators experienced their third straight winning season in 2005, finishing 10-6 and earning a playoff berth. Orlando was defeated by the Georgia Force in the National Conference Championship Game, eliminating Orlando from the playoffs.

Orlando returns Georgia Tech Alumni QB Joe Hamilton and three-time AFL ADT Defensive Player of the Year DS Kenny McEntyre. In the offseason the Predators traded away 2004 U.S. Army Ironman of the Year WR/LB Cory Fleming to the Nashville Kats.

THE GAME

The Force begins their National Conference Championship defense by hosting the team they defeated to reach ArenaBowl XIX, the Orlando Predators on Saturday at Philips Arena. The Force finished a franchise and league best 11-5 in the regular season, including an 8-0 record at home. The record setting season also included winning the Southern Division, arguably the toughest division in the AFL.

The 2005 Conference Championship Game provided excitement until the last second. The Force found themselves trailing by 13 points mid-way through the third quarter. Georgia outscored Orlando 33-12 in the final quarter and a half. The Force's tenacious defense recorded two safeties in the final 16 minutes of the game, including an interception by WR/LB Derek Lee in the fourth quarter. Georgia secured the win as WR/DB Ricky Parker intercepted QB Joe Hamilton as Orlando attempted to tie the game with a two-point conversion with no time remaining, to secure a trip to ArenaBowl XIX for the Force.

Only one game separated Georgia and Orlando in the standings last year. The Force finished 11-5 (6-2 in the division) while Orlando finished 10-6 (5-3 in the division). Beginning the season with a division win could prove to be a deciding factor at the end of the season.

Nagy will be the fifth different quarterback to start for the Force on opening day (Kevin McDougal- 2002, Donnie Davis- 2003, Leon Murray- 2004 and Jim Kubiak- 2005) in the franchises five seasons. Nagy stepped in for QB Jim Kubiak last season after Kubiak suffered a season ending knee injury in game four at Austin (2/25).

Prior to the start of the home opener, the Force will unveil their Conference Championship banner. The banner will be the first championship banner of any kind to hang in Philips Arena.



CONNECTIONS

Force OL/DL Jermaine Smith played for the Predators during the 2004 season...Predators OL/DL Doug Miller was with the Atlanta Falcons from 2000-2001...Orlando QB Joe Hamilton attended Georgia Tech from 1996-1999 and was one of the most decorated passers in school history.

GEORGIA FORCE NEXT WEEK

The Force will welcome the reining AFL Champion Colorado Crush on Sunday, February 5 at 1 p.m. (ET) in Philips Arena.

Georgia leads the regular season series 1-0 and trails the postseason series 0-1. Last season, Georgia fell to the Crush in ArenaBowl XIX 51-48. Colorado K Clay Rush connected on a 20-yard field goal with 18 seconds left in the game to clinch the AFL Championship.

THE SCHEDULE

GEORGIA FORCE (0-0)

Date OPPONENT RESULT SCORE
Jan. 28 ORLANDO
Feb. 5 COLORADO
Feb. 10 @ Tampa Bay
Feb. 17 @ Las Vegas
Feb. 24 KANSAS CITY
March 4 AUSTIN
March 10 @ Columbus
March 17 @ San Jose
March 26 TAMPA BAY
April 1 @ Kansas City
April 9 @ Austin
April 14 @ Orlando
April 22 DALLAS
April 29 CHICAGO
May 6 @ New York
May 13 PHILADELPHIA

STATISTICS

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

Statistical GEORGIA ORLANDO
Category Rank Stat Rank Stat
Scoring Offense 9th 51.1 11th 50.0
Scoring Defense 2nd 46.6 3rd 47.2
Total Offense (yds/g) 7th 282.5 8th 280.9
Total Defense (yds/g) 12th 294.0 5th 269.2
Pass Offense 7th 264.8 13th 248.2
Pass Defense 13th 275.9 6th 253.5
Rushing Offense 9th 17.7 3rd 32.7
Rushing Defense 6th 18.1 2nd 15.7
Pass Rating 3rd 120.0 6th 112.9
Pass Def. Rating 7th 107.8 2nd 98.9
Kickoff Returns 9th 17.4 11th 17.1
MFG Returns 8th 17.4 14th 13.0
Interceptions (int-yds) 14th 12-79 8th 15-131
Turnover Margin 11th -2 5th +6
Field Goals 5th 7-14 8th 14-31
PAT Kicking 10th 97-112 16th 82-105
Sacks By (sks-yds) 9th 15-80 4th 19-124
Sacks Against (sks-yds) 8th 13-91 14th 23-112
First Downs 5th 334 10th 319
Opp. First Downs 12th 333 2nd 307
Penalties (yds/gm) 13th 57.1 8th 52.4
Opp. Penalties (yds/gm) 1st 66.1 16th 47.6
Red Zone Offense 13th 57-73 1st 70-79
Red Zone Defense 3rd 60-78 10th 63-78
Time of Possession 14th 28:29 8th 30:18

HEAD COACHES

DOUG PLANK, Georgia (13-6, 2nd Year): Doug Plank enters his second season as head coach of the Georgia Force in 2006. In his first season as an AFL head coach, he led the Force on a magical ride to ArenaBowl XIX. Plank was voted 2005 AFL Coach of the Year after leading the Force to a league best 11-5 regular season record and a 13-6 record overall.

The 11-5 mark was the best record in franchise history (previous best 8-8 in 2003), and secured the Force's first Southern Division Championship and the number one seed in the playoffs. The Force went on to win the inaugural National Conference Championship game by defeating the Orlando Predators 60-58. The victory secured the Force's place in ArenaBowl XIX.

Plank has coached in four straight ArenaBowls. He helped lead the Arizona Rattlers to three previous ArenaBowls as their defensive coordinator. In his final season with the Rattlers, the team finished with an 11-5 record and earned the top seed in the AFL playoffs.
A former member of The Ohio State University football team, Plank played in three consecutive Rose Bowls (1973-75). 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 selected by the Chicago Bears in the 12th round of the 1975 NFL 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.
He has prior broadcasting experience with the Sports USA Radio Network, Arizona Cardinals, Arizona State University Football, Fox Sports Net, and Westwood One.

Plank and his wife, Nancy, have two children, Andrea and Michael.

JAY GRUDEN, Orlando (64-37, 7th Year): Whether as a head coach, player or offensive coordinator, Jay Gruden's name has been synonymous with success in the Arena Football League. In his 15 seasons in the Arena League, Gruden has been in the playoffs each season. He has made seven trips to the ArenaBowl and owns six championship rings.

For his AFL career, Gruden has posted some truly remarkable numbers. As a head coach, he is 64-37-0 and ranks in the top 10 overall in coaching wins and winning percentage. He is one of only five AFL coaches with two or more ArenaBowl championships. In the playoffs, his 11-4 mark as a head coach ranks in the top five all-time in victories and winning percentage. As a quarterback, he ranks in the top ten with more than 20,000 passing yards and close to 400 touchdowns. He won 15 of 19 post-season starts with 4,761 passing yards and 77 touchdowns. Gruden was 84-25 (.770) as a starting quarterback. That mark, combined with his 10-5 record as Nashville's offensive coordinator and his 64-37 record as head coach, takes Gruden's all-time Arena Football League record to 158-67 (.702). As a player, assistant coach or head coach, Gruden has never failed to lead his team to the playoffs.

LAST TIME THESE TEAMS MET

ATLANTA, GA - The Georgia Force (13-5) advanced to ArenaBowl XIX by defeating the Orlando Predators (11-7) 60-58 in the National Conference Championship game at Philips Arena.

It took a total team effort by Georgia, who found themselves down by 13 points mid-way through the third quarter. The Force move on to their first championship game in team history by the result of two defensive safeties and an offense that outscored the Predators 33-12 in the last quarter and a half.

Georgia quarterback Matt Nagy led the team finishing with seven touchdown throws on 26-of-36 passing for 344 yards. Force WR/LB Chris Jackson hauled in a game-high four scores on eight receptions for 147 yards. Orlando passer Joe Hamilton threw for seven touchdowns on 23-of-29 for 272 with one interception, while WR/LB Cory Fleming caught three touchdowns with 118 receiving yards on seven receptions.

The Orlando defense was the storyline in the first half as they stopped Georgia on three of their six possessions. The Predators took an early 14-13 lead when Kevin Nagle rushed in for a three-yard score. On Georgia's ensuing drive, Nagy fumbled the center exchange which was recovered by Orlando on the Force 13-yardline.

In the second quarter, Georgia closed the scoring gap to 21-20 when Jackson hauled in a 28-yard touchdown pass from Nagy. Then the Force defense created a stop of their own as Ricky Parker intercepted Hamilton in the end zone. Georgia could not capitalize on the opportunity giving the ball back on a turnover on downs. Nagle added a second rushing score in the half to build the Predators lead to 27-20 with 58 seconds remaining before the break. Orlando's defense again held Georgia on downs as they took a seven-point lead into the half.

Orlando built their largest lead of the game when Fleming pulled in a 28-yard touchdown strike from
Hamilton to put the Predators up 40-27 with 7:15 left in the third quarter. Nagy started the Georgia
comeback on a three-yard scoring rush to chip away at the Orlando lead. On the Predators' next possession, Hamilton was sacked in the end zone for a safety by Jermaine Smith leaving the score 40-35 Orlando.
Georgia capitalized on the ensuing kickoff taking their first lead, 41-40, since the game's opening possession when Nagy hit Troy Bergeron for a 20-yard touchdown. With the home fans creating trouble for Orlando to hear the play calls, the Predators committed two false starts and a delay of game penalty pushing them back to their own one-yard line. On the next play, Gillis Wilson sacked Hamilton for a second safety, putting the Force up 51-46. Following touchdown scores by both teams, Georgia kicker Nelson Garner connected on a 23-yard field goal with 37 seconds left in the game as the Force stood with a 60-52 advantage. Hamilton would not let his team quit though, driving down the field and connecting with Jimmy Fryzel on a one-yard touchdown as time expired. Orlando, needing a two-point conversion to send the game into overtime, came up short on two different attempts as the Georgia defense stood strong in victory.

Score 1 2 3 4 Total
Orlando 14 13 13 18 58
Georgia 13 7 15 25 60

LEADERS

PASSING:
GA- Matt Nagy, 26-36-344-7
ORL- Joe Hamilton, 23-29-272-7-1

RECEIVING:
GA- Chris Jackson, 8-147-4
ORL- Cory Fleming, 7-118-3

RUSHING:
GA- Matt Nagy, 1-3-1
ORL- Joe Hamilton, 5-16-0

Offensive Player of the Game: Matt Nagy, Georgia
ADT Defensive Player of the Game: Ricky Parker, Georgia
U.S. Army Ironman of the Game: Chris Jackson, Georgia

THE FORCE THIS SEASON ARE

0-0 at home
0-0 on the road

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

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

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

0-0 in televised games

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

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

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

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

THINGS TO WATCH

Force On Opening Night

The Georgia Force have an all-time opening day record of 3-1. Georgia is 2-1 at home and 1-0 on the road in opening games. Georgia defeated the New Orleans VooDoo 46-44 last year to up their mark to 3-1 on opening day.

Orlando is 10-5 all-time in opening day games after defeating the Colorado Crush 39-36 last year.

Force Opening Games (2002-2005)

Date Opponent Result Score
4/20/02 Orlando W 67-49
2/2/03 @ Colorado W 44-40
2/8/04 New York L 28-54
1/30/05 New Orleans W 46-44

Home Cooking

The Force enters the 2006 season with a 12-game home winning streak, dating back to the 2004 season. Georgia finished 10-0 at home last season, including two playoff wins at Philips Arena. The Force became the first team since the AFL moved to a 16-game schedule to go a perfect 8-0 at home in 2005.

The home success of the team can be attributed to the fans. The team's average attendance was up 39% from last year, averaging over 12,700 fans at home throughout the regular season.

Close Calls

In three meetings against the Predators last season, the games were decided by a total of seven points and were determined in the final minute of the game.

The Conference Championship Game was decided on the final play with no time remaining on the clock. Orlando attempted to tie the game with a two-point conversion, which failed when the pass by QB Joe Hamilton was intercepted by WR/DB Ricky Parker.

Date Opponent Result Score
3/19/05 Orlando W 49-47
4/22/05 @ Orlando L 49-52
6/4/05 Orlando W 60-58

Nagy vs. Hamilton- Round 3

The Force-Predators match-up will feature two the best quarterbacks in the AFL with Georgia's Matt Nagy facing Orlando's Joe Hamilton.

Nagy enters his second season as a member of the Force and his first season as the starter. Nagy started his first game for the Force on March 6 vs. Columbus, filling in for injured QB Jim Kubiak. Nagy set career highs in completions (260), attempts (388), passing yards (3,003) and touchdowns (66) in 11 games last season. Nagy compiled a 9-5 record as a starter, including the playoffs.

Hamilton enters his third season in the AFL and has established himself as the most accurate passer in Orlando Predators History. He has completed 66% of his passes in his three year career. Besides being an accurate passer, Hamilton is one of the most elusive quarterbacks in the league.

This will be the third time the two QBs have faced each other on the field. Last season, Nagy's Georgia Force defeated Hamilton and the Predators twice, including a 60-58 victory in the Conference Championship Game.
Nagy vs. Predators
Comp. Att. Yards TDs INT Score
3/19/05 34 23 239 5 2 W 49-47
6/04/05 36 26 344 7 0 W 60-58
Totals 70 49 583 12 2

Hamilton vs. Force
Comp. Att. Yards TDs INT Score
3/19/05 31 23 307 4 1 L 49-47
6/04/05 29 23 272 7 1 L 60-58
Totals 60 46 579 11 2

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