The Jacksonville Sharks used a late touchdown to defeat the Georgia Force 62-55 at the Arena at the Gwinnett Center on Saturday night, despite a valiant effort by Force quarterback Brett Elliott who went for 283 yards and seven touchdowns passes.
The Force opened the first quarter with a bang as a simple slip-screen from Elliott to wide receiver Maurice Purify turned into a long 41-yard touchdown reception. The long scamper from Purify gave the Force and early 7-0 lead. However, their lead was short lived as Sharks quarterback Aaron Garcia found wide receiver Jomo Wilson on two separate occasions to give the Sharks a 14-7 lead after the first quarter.
With the Sharks offense striking fast the Force needed a quick answer, but could not find it as the offense continued to sputter and Elliott fumbled the snap at his own 1-yard line. After a procedure penalty the Sharks took full advantage of the fumble when Garcia found Wilson for a 5-yard touchdown. The score gave the Sharks a 21-7 lead at the 14:53 mark, but Georgia answered as Elliott orchestrated a 6-play 29-yard drive that saw Elliott connect with Purify for a 7-yard score. The Force looked prime for a second quarter comeback when they recovered a fumble, but Elliott quickly gave the ball away as he was intercepted, which eventually resulted in a Sharks touchdown. After exchanging touchdowns, and the Force trailing 35-21, the offense looked to get back on track. After a field goal conversion, the Force got a break as they recovered the kickoff and quickly converted the turnover into a 3-yard touchdown pass, which put them within four at halftime, 35-31.
With both teams striking fast and often in the first half, it was going to take a defensive performance from one of the teams in the second. Both teams answered the call as they allowed 13 total points. The two scores came from Elliott finding C.J. Johnson for a 7-yard score and Garcia finding wideout Sale' Key for an easy 26-yard score. With the fourth quarter looming the Sharks took a three-point lead to the final quarter, 41-38.
The Force opened the quarter with the ball and did not give it up until Elliott found Purify in the back of the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown at the 12:08 mark. The Force enjoyed a lead, but was the merriment was short lived as Garcia found Jeron Harvey for a long 37-yard touchdown connection. Down by three points, the Force secured ball and looked to score, but the Sharks defense stepped up and forced Georgia to try a long 40-yard field goal attempt. Kicker Carlos Martinez was up for the task as he converted on a long 40-yard attempt; which is his long for the season and also matched his season total of two. With the score tied at 48, Garcia went back to work as he found Harvey for a 26-yard touchdown, but a failed extra point attempt gave them only a six-point lead. Georgia answered again as Elliott found Shipp for a quick 5-yard strike, giving the Force a one-point lead, 55-54. Jacksonville answered back with an 11-yard touchdown to from Garcia to Harvey, giving the Sharks a seven-point lead after the converted 2-point attempt, 62-55. Georgia had an opportunity to tie the game but could not convert from inside the ten-yard line on four separate occasions.
The Force, led by wide receiver Purify, added another stellar performance to his resume with 10 receptions on 106 yards and four touchdowns while Shipp chipped in with 11 receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns.
The Force will return to action next week as they take their show to the west coast in a non-conference matchup against the San Jose Sabercats, on Saturday, May 28 at 10:05 p.m. EST.