SALT LAKE CITY — Following a successful road trip, the Utah Blaze (9-5) returns home looking to build on a three-game winning streak against the South Division leading Georgia Force (7-7).
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at EnergySolutions Arena.
Utah retained its status as the fourth and final playoff team after a dramatic last-minute 58-55 triumph over the Spokane Shock. The Blaze’s nine wins on the season ties the best record in franchise history with four games remaining.
Meanwhile, the Force suffered a 62-27 defeat at the hands of the Chicago Rush. Despite the loss, Georgia remains in first place in the American Conference’s South Division.
The Blaze passing attack continues to pace the Arena Football League (334.7 ypg) behind QB Tommy Grady, who is now just eight scores shy of setting the all-time single-season mark for touchdown passes.
The 6-foot-7 gunslinger has tossed an unprecedented 110 touchdowns on the year to shatter the previous franchise record.
Grady always has a dangerous corps of receivers at his disposal, including WR Aaron Lesue, who leads the AFL with 47 touchdown receptions on the year.
WR Tysson Poots has emerged as a big, physical receiving threat, and has recorded 44 receptions for 451 yards and 12 scores over the past three contests.
WR Shaun Kauleinamoku gives the Blaze a fleet-footed wideout who is capable of changing a game both with his receiving skills and his prowess as a kickoff returner.
That group will go head-to-head with one of the AFL’s most effective secondary units, as Georgia has allowed just 253.9 aerial yards per games.
The Force also features the AFL’s second-best scoring defense, surrendering a mere 50.2 points per contest.
Georgia has a knack for getting its hands on the football and ranks third in the AFL with 25 interceptions on season. Utah must limit turnovers in order to achieve its usual level of offensive success.
“Georgia has a ball hawking defense,” said coach Ron James. “We have to be efficient on offense and make the most of our opportunities this week.”
The Blaze defense continues to forge a remarkable turnaround and has given up just over 42 points per game during its last three contests.
That bodes well for Utah, as Georgia employs the AFL’s 15th-ranked scoring offense (44.4 ppg) and passing offense (231.1 ypg).
Blaze DB William Mulder has the hot hand in the secondary, having registered two interceptions over the past two weeks.
“We have been improving defensively over the past few weeks,” said James. “Georgia has a strong receiver corps and a very solid quarterback. We will need a tremendous effort from our defensive front to apply pressure to their offense.”