In a game that was not short of highlight-film plays, an unforgettable reaction by Soul co-owner Jon Bon Jovi left the biggest impression last night.
Bon Jovi showed his displeasure on ESPN2 by making an obscene gesture at the referees. It was all part of a wild 57-49 loss to the Georgia Force before 14,583 fans at the Wachovia Center.
The Soul are 4-1 heading into Monday night's game at 6-0 Dallas. Georgia improved to 5-1.
After Georgia scored a controversial touchdown that took the starch out of a Soul comeback, Bon Jovi gave the ESPN2 crew much more than it bargained for when looking for a reaction shot in the owners' box.
Unaware of the camera, Bon Jovi raised both middle fingers toward the officials. They had ruled that Georgia's Troy Bergeron had caught a 34-yard pass, fumbled on the 4-yard line, and then recovered his own fumble in the end zone with defensive back Eddie Moten in pursuit.
That gave Georgia a 54-42 lead with 9 minutes, 32 seconds left.
Bon Jovi was apologetic afterward.
"I didn't understand the ruling," he said. Bergeron "did have possession on the play. He fumbled in the end zone. He recovered the ball. I reacted to something I didn't know the rule on."
Bon Jovi said he obviously didn't realize that the camera was pointed at him.
"I apologize for the middle-finger thing," he said. "I didn't understand the rule. It's simple as that. We will be back next week."
At least next week, the Soul won't have to face Bergeron, who finished with eight receptions for 182 yards and four touchdowns.
Bergeron never played football while attending Middle Tennessee State. He was on the Buffalo Bills' practice squad for a few weeks in December.
He thought the officials got the call right.
"I think I definitely caught it," Bergeron said. "I looked at the replay. I took a couple of steps, and it just skipped out and I started running. I know it's live in the end zone, and my first instinct was to go get it."
The Soul were hurt by three turnovers, including a fumble by Wes Ours on first and goal from the Georgia 2-yard line and an end-zone interception of Soul quarterback Tony Graziani by Harrin Milligan.
Georgia quarterback Chris Greisen completed 22 of 29 passes for 344 yards and seven touchdowns, with one interception. Graziani was 22 of 36 for 266 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception.
Idris Price rushed for three touchdowns on three carries for the Soul.
After Price's third touchdown cut the deficit to 54-49, Georgia got breathing room with a 15-yard field goal by Xavier Beitia with 12 seconds left.
The game ended with Graziani's incomplete pass, intended for Sean Scott, as time expired.