LAS VEGAS - The Colorado Crush needed every second to win the ArenaBowl.
Clay Rush kicked a 20-yard field goal as time expired to give the Crush a 51-48 victory over the Georgia Force on Sunday.
“They said we couldn’t do it,” Colorado defensive lineman Bryant Shaw said. “But we came to Vegas and we’re taking the ArenaBowl championship back to Denver.”
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 said it a thrill to win the ArenaBowl as an owner, but “a totally different gratification” from winning the Super Bowl as a player 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.
The exciting finish — the teams combined for 41 points in the final quarter — came after a first half that featured saw six running touchdowns and one field goal, unusual in a league that emphasizes passing.
“I have never been part of a game like that in my entire career,” Nagy said.
The game also featured two teams with NFL owners. 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.
“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.