GEORGIA -- A six-touchdown first half by Georgia quarterback R.J. Archer was too much to handle as the Rush suffered its first defeat of the 2012 Arena Football League season.
Turnovers and mistakes hurt the Rush (4-1), and quarterback Russ Michna (20-36, 263 yards, 4 TD, 4 INT) ended the team's first offensive series by tossing an interception to Force defensive back Tracy Belton. The Force capitalized on five turnovers to post 28 of their 70 points on the night.
Georgia wide receiver Brandon McRae hauled in three touchdowns in the first half at Gwinnett Arena.
Despite the early mistakes by the Rush, the deficit was cut to 8 points after a 2-yard touchdown run by Rush fullback Kelvin Morris in the second quarter. However, two straight Force touchdowns and a fourth-down touchdown catch by Larry Shipp with a minute remaining in the second quarter led to a 49-20 first half advantage for Georgia.
Chicago closed that gap in the third quarter with a 23-7 scoring advantage. After an opening possession touchdown by Georgia, the Rush put together 23 unanswered points in the final 3:36 to cut the lead to 13. Wide receiver Reggie Gray (7 catches, 133 yards, 2 TD) closed out the final seconds of that third quarter by catching a 40-yard touchdown pass.
The ensuing kickoff from Gray's touchdown provided a chance for the Rush to continue their comeback in the fourth quarter. The ball clanked off the iron upright, bouncing high off the net and grazed the fingers of two Chicago players. Yet, the ball would strike the sidewall before being recovered by the Rush, signaling a dead ball and possession to Georgia.
"Out of all the mistakes we made tonight, that one play could've turned the tide for the rest of the game," head coach Bob McMillen said, "If we recover and get the ball at their 3-yard line we have the chance to score and make it a one possession game."
Archer (21-27, 205 yards, 6 TD) wouldn't need a second half touchdown as Mykell Brown and the Force defense stymied the last of the Rush comeback attempt.
The final blow came on Michna's fifth turnover of the night (4 INTs, 1 fumble), resulting in Shipp taking a reverse into the end zone.
"There were a lot of mistakes tonight," said Michna, "and turnovers on the road never equate to a winning recipe."
The Rush will return home April 21 to take on the Milwaukee Mustangs at the Allstate Arena.