Nick Browder perused the scene all around him and shook
In what may have been his final appearance as the Dragons starting
quarterback, Browder was almost flawless and nearly unbeatable. The free-agent
signee came aboard in the fifth week of the season and just in time to save
what was left of the Dragons regular season, leading the team into the playoffs
for the third time in the past four years.
But not even Browder, who played brilliantly in yesterday's wild-card game
against Georgia could continue to extend the Dragons season.
He completed 27 of 36 passes for 390 yards and nine touchdowns and it just
Georgia quarterback Matt Nagy shredded the Dragons secondary for nine
touchdown passes as the Force edged New York, 72-69, yesterday in the first
round of the Arena Football League playoffs before a crowd of 10,243 at Nassau
Nagy completed 28 of 39 passes for 362 yards and also scored a touchdown on
the ground to lead Georgia into next week's quarterfinal round against the
"We left it all on the field," Browder said. "It was an all-out effort."
Browder fired a 25-yard scoring pass to Mike Horacek with 35 seconds left and
added the two-point conversion pass to Kevin Swayne to get the Dragons within
three. It was Horacek's sixth touchdown of the game.
On the ensuing onsides kick, the ball popped free and a mad scramble
followed. When the players were untangled Georgia's Derek Lee came out with the
ball and helped the Force seal the win.
"We were down 12 late in the fourth quarter and we didn't pack it in,"
Dragons coach Weylan Harding said. "We fought back and ran out of time. This
team showed heart and resilience all season. I'm disappointed in the loss but
proud of the effort." The Dragons had no answer for Georgia wide out Chris
Jackson. He weaved in and out of the secondary to the tune of 13 receptions and
180 yards for five touchdowns.
"He's [Jackson] been one of the best in this league for a long time," said
Swayne, who had 9 catches for 108 yards and two scores. "He made the big plays.
Our offense was unstoppable and their offense was unstoppable. It came down to
the clock and who had the ball last. It's a tough way to end a good season."
The game seesawed throughout with nine lead changes. Georgia took the lead
for good after Browder's screen pass to fullback Bruce Blue went wrong at the
Force 18. Trailing 58-53, the Dragons opted for a risky short pass. After Blue
caught the pass, he was stripped by nose guard Adam Metts and the ball was
recovered by linebacker Robert Thomas. Five plays later, Nagy hit Lee with a
16-yard scoring pass and the 65-53 lead.
"The turnovers made the difference," Harding said. "The lineman fell right
into the play and it wasn't clear that he ever had control of the pass. It was
questionable." It was one call that didn't go the Dragons way. But the first
half ended on a bizarre play that kept them in the game. Georgia held a 37-28
lead with six seconds left and tried to add to the advantage from its own 8
yard-line. Nagy hit Lee crossing the middle of the field, who then attempted a
pitch to Jackson criss-crossing the secondary behind him.
Lee's pitch went awry and Dragons lineman Troy Pelshak recovered at the 12.
As Pelshak was tackled by three Georgia players, Dahnel Singfield ripped the
ball from Pelshak's grip and ran 12 yards for the shocking touchdown with no
time on the clock.
"It's the AFL, you never know," Harding said. "It was a wild play.
You know, we had a good season considering all that happened."