DULUTH, Ga. -- The Utah Blaze (4-3) used a last second touchdown to get past the Georgia Force (5-3) at the Arena at the Gwinnett Center on Saturday night. Quarterback Brett Elliott rallied the team in the second half, finishing 27 of 38 for 374 yards and nine touchdowns, but it was not enough against Utah quarterback Tommy Grady's tenth touchdown which elevated the Blaze past the Force, 74-71.
Georgia opened the game on a fast note as Elliott connected on a fade route to Maurice Purify for a 7-yard touchdown. Their connection put them ahead but was answered by Grady who found Alvance Robinson wide open in the back of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown strike. The next Force possession saw Elliott fumbling the ball at his own 16-yard line. The turnover gave Grady a short field and he delivered on the next play finding Aaron Boone for a 16-yard touchdown. The Force answered with :32 left in the quarter, as Elliott found Purify in the open field, he scampered off, leaping over a defender for the 23-yard touchdown.
The Force went into the second quarter with a 13-12 lead, but Tommy Grady found his favorite target Boone on consecutive plays, the final play resulting in a 20-yard touchdown. Force returner C.J. Johnson took the ensuing kickoff 56-yard for the touchdown pulling the Force to a 20-19 lead. The Force tried to surprise the Blaze with an onside-kick on the following play but the Blaze were prepared and Ernie Pierce took the ball ten yards for the quick score. The Blaze found themselves with a late second quarter lead and did not relinquish it, despite two late touchdowns from Elliott to Johnson. The Blaze rolled in to half time leading 40-34.
The Blaze did not get off the gas as they used miscues and turnovers early in the third quarter to take a commanding 54-34 lead; however, Elliott kept the momentum with the next possession by finding Johnson for a 30-yard touchdown. The Force secondary tightened up and created a turnover that resulted in another Force touchdown, bringing the Force within six, 54-48.
Grady, as he did throughout the game, continued to rip apart the Force defense and on the first play of the fourth quarter found Aaron Lesue for a 14-yard touchdown. Elliott again countered, finding Purify in the back of the end zone for a 2-yard score. The Force looked to have momentum and their fate quickly turned on the next play from scrimmage when Grady tripped over his center and threw the ball away from his own end zone. The play resulted in a safety, which gave the Force the ball back only down four points 61-57. The Force carried the momentum for another score when Elliott found Larry Shipp for a 13-yard score. The touchdown gave them the first lead of the game since the 11-minute mark in the first quarter, 65-61. Despite the heroic comeback by the Force, the team did not have an answer for Grady as he continued to torment the secondary and at the :04 mark he sealed the Georgia fate when he connected with Boone for his final score of the game, he finished the day 33 of 45 for 344 yards and ten touchdowns. His ten touchdowns are a season best and the Blaze needed all of them to get past the Force.
Georgia was lead by Purify who finished with 9 receptions on 141 yards receiving and four touchdowns, while Johnson added 319 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns.
The Force return to action next week as they travel to face-off against the Philadelphia Soul on May 13.