Defense and superb quarterbacking from rookie JJ Reterink led the Chicago Rush over the Georgia Force 51-41. The Force needed a win to maintain semi-solid footing in the wildcard race for the Arena Football League playoffs. With the win, Chicago stays one game behind Arizona for home field advantage in the National Conference.
In front of a mostly sold out home crowd at the Gwinnett Arena, the Georgia Force let the game get out of hand early. Chicago posted two quick scores capitalizing on an interception and a fumble recovery by jack linebacker Kelvin Morris. Rookie quarterback JJ Reterink completed a deep pass to Charles Dillon for the opening score. On the Force's second possession DT Mark Weivoda ripped the ball away from GAF FB Benjii McDowell into the waiting mitts of Morris for the first of the linebackers two defensive scores.
"We played sloppy early," admitted Force Head Coach Dean Cokinos. Fumbles, interceptions and dropped passes allowed the Rush to take a 38-14 lead into the half.
The Force gave the Rush a taste of their own medicine to start the third. With the endzone at his back Reterink's pass was tipped at the line by #92 Jeff Littlejohn that landed in the hands of Eric Crosby for a 12 yard touchdown.
Defense carried the Force in the second half holding the Rush to just 13 points without starting DE #56 Jerry Turner. Turner was ejected alongside Rush OL #56 Beau Elliot for fighting before the end of the first half.
On offense, the Force turned to backup quarterback Darnell Kennedy. "We just needed to change things up," said Cokinos of Elliott's benching.
Kennedy threw for three touchdowns in the half but could have had a couple more. CJ Johnson and Larry Shipp both had their share of dropped touchdown passes.
Reggie Gray's 24 yard touchdown reception at the start of the fourth quarter, his second of the game, put the finishing touches on the win.
The Rush defense nabbed six interceptions in the game, the most ever in a single game for the franchise.
Chicago's defense recorded a total of seven turnovers to set a team record.
Chicago's win also marked its first win in Georgia since 2002.
Georgia needs a loss by Pittsburgh on Sunday to remain tied in the hunt for the American Conference wildcard playoff berth.
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