Duluth, GA (May 12, 2012) - The Georgia Force beat the Tampa Bay Storm with a final game score of 44-41 in a nail-biting contest held in The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Georgia. The game was played in front of 3,859 arena football fans.
With starting QB RJ Archer in mini-camp with the Detroit Lions, Kevin Eakin stepped with no issues. He led the Force to 24 first half points by throwing touchdowns of 13 and 28 yards to receivers Jake Allen and Larry Shipp, respectively.
Fullback Mykel Benson showed off his bruising skills as he rumbled 3 yards for the Force first touchdown of the game to tie the score at 7. Linebacker Jeremy Grier then intercepted Storm starting Quarterback Stephen Wasil to set up a 20 yard field-goal by Carlos Martinez. The Force held on to a 10-7 lead heading into the second quarter.
The defense then turned it up a notch. On the Storm second possession of the second quarter, the Force defense forced a four and out. Two minutes later Eakin and Allen hooked up for a 13 yard touchdown. Defensive tackle Kris Cooke then became a major factor. Cooke ended the first half with three quarterback pressures and a sack. His last quarterback pressure led to the second interception by the Force, this time Tracy Belton managed to get his hands on it. With just over a minute left in the first half, Eakin found Shipp for a 28 yard touchdown reception and a 24-14 halftime lead.
The Force maintained a seven point lead entering the third quarter, 27-20 as only a 40 yard field goal by Force kicker Carlos Martinez and a 10 yard touchdown reception by Storm wide receiver Amarri Jackson were the only points scored in the quarter.
The ship did not sink tonight, as Larry Shipp took control in the final quarter. Shipp scored his second touchdown of the game on a reverse from two yards out to extend the lead back to 14 in the opening moments of the the fourth. Then with just under five minutes remaining and the lead down to seven, Shipp halled in his third score. This time Eakin scrambled to his right and threw a dart to Shipp in the back of the end-zone to extend the lead back to 14. After a Chandler Williams touchdown, Shipp again got his hands on the ball. Despite a late touchdown by Tampa Bay, the Force held onto win their only home game of May 44-41. With the win, the Force took over first place in the Southern Division.
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game: Larry Shipp, Georgia
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game: Kris Cooke, Georgia
JLS Ironman of the Game: CJ Johnson, Georgia
AFL Playmaker of the Game: Tracy Belton, Georgia
Cutters Catch of the Game: Prechae Rodriguez catch off the net for the first touchdown of the game, Tampa Bay
Spalding Highlight of the Game: Jeremy Grier's interception
National Guard MVP: Larry Shipp
The Force will be on the road next weekend, facing the Milwaukee Mustangs on Friday, May 18th at 8 p.m. EST at the Bradley Center Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Print copies of CORE 360 Magazine can be obtained by visiting the CORE 360 Magcloud website