LAS VEGAS (AP) – Clay Rush kicked a 20-yard field goal as time expired to give the Colorado Crush a 51-48 victory over the Georgia Force on Sunday in the ArenaBowl.

John Dutton set up the winning field goal with a 37-yard pass to Kevin McKenzie with 5 seconds left. Georgia also was penalized for roughing Dutton on the play, giving the Crush the ball on the 4.

Former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway accepted the Foster ArenaBowl Trophy as part-owner of the Crush, who won their first title in just their third season in the Arena Football League.

Elway called it a thrill to win the ArenaBowl as an owner, but “a totally different gratification” from winning the Super Bowl in 1998 and 1999.

He also called having the Arena championship decided on the last play “a great exhibition of what this league is all about.”

Dutton finished 23-of-41 for 347 yards and three touchdowns. Damian Harrell led the Crush in receiving with eight catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns, and Willis Marshall added six receptions for 111 yards and a TD and also ran four times for 12 yards and three scores.

Georgia’s Matt Nagy was 24-of-36 for 247 yards and four touchdowns and also ran for a score. Derek Lee had 12 catches for 133 yards and three touchdowns, and Chris Jackson added seven receptions for 84 yards and a TD.

The exciting finish came in a game that saw six running touchdowns and one field goal in the first half – unusual in a league that emphasizes passing.

It also featured two teams with NFL owners. Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, Elway and Denver Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke own the Crush, and Arthur Blank, whose Atlanta Falcons came within one game of going to the Super Bowl this year, owns the Force.

Georgia lost momentum early, turning the ball over on an interception and fumble in its first three possessions.

On the Force’s first play from scrimmage, Nagy’s pass was intercepted by Ahmad Hawkins, who went on to win defensive player of the game honors. Hawkins also recovered a fumble late in the second quarter.

Nagy said that the interception threw the Force off their rhythm, while Dutton said it energized the Crush.

“The defense steps up and gets a big pick, and then it is on from there,” Dutton said.

The Crush took just 2:42 to score on a 1-yard plunge by Marshall, who was selected the offensive player of the game. He also was honored as the ironman of the game, an award given to the game’s top two-way player.

Marshall’s scoring play was set up when he grabbed a 32-yard sideline reception from Dutton, who had ArenaBowl experience as MVP of the game in 2002 with the San Jose Sabercats.

It was more than 11 minutes into the game before Nagy completed his first pass, to Jackson. By then, the Crush led 10-0.

“Giving up big plays, quick scores, it puts pressure on your offense,” said Force head coach Doug Plank, who took Georgia to the league championship and became the league’s coach of the year in his first season.

Colorado never gave up the lead – although Georgia came back to tie the game three times late in the fourth quarter.

Nagy completed a 34-yard jump-ball pass to Lee in the Colorado end zone, and kicker Nelson Garner made the extra point to tie it at 34 with just over 9 minutes left.

Marshall answered 1:22 later, taking a 45-yard pass up the 50-yard field. He avoided a defender at midfield and angled into the end zone to break the tie.

Nagy hit Lee again with a 27-yard pass to knot the score at 41, but Dutton hit Harrell with a 30-yard scoring strike to pull the Crush ahead. Nagy then threw a 20-yard scoring pass to Jackson to tie the score at 48 with 18 seconds left.

The game attracted a crowd of 10,822 at the 15,621-seat Thomas & Mack Center, but Plank said the noise inside the arena made it impossible for him to call a timeout before Rush’s kick.

“I was trying to call time out at the very end,” the Georgia coach said, “but I just wasn’t able to get that done.”

Rush, who missed a long field goal try in the first half, called the last-second kick the most pressure-packed of his career.

“I’ve been around seven years and I’ve been in crucial situations, but this is the top one,” he said.

AP-ES-06-12-05 2055EDT

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