The weekly objective doesn't change for the Birmingham Stallions: find a way to win.

Sunday's formula consisted of a game-winning kickoff by Deon Cain, some Houdini-like maneuvers by quarterback Alex McGough and some darn good red zone defense. Put it together, and Birmingham was able to get past the Pittsburgh Maulers, 24-20, at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio.

"Let me tell you, I'm really proud of this football team, the way they competed," said Stallions head coach Skip Holtz, whose team was playing a regular season road game for the first time.

Very little about the win was pretty. But a win is a win, and the Stallions (3-1) overall were able to stay a game behind USFL South Division-leading New Orleans, who beat the New Jersey Generals, 20-17, on Sunday.

It was Cain who delivered the biggest play on a night when the Stallions' offense struggled at times. His kickoff return came just after Mauler quarterback Troy Williams scrambled 34 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 6:52 remaining. Isiah Hennie's 2-point conversion gave Pittsburgh a 20-17 lead.

(On the ensuing kickoff, Cain gathered the ball at the 9-yard line, started toward the middle of the field, quickly angled to the left side, broke a tackle, avoided another and raced into the end zone for his second kickoff return touchdown in as many weeks.

The Stallions' defense, which was gritty all night, forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession. Defensive lineman Dondrae Tillman made a big play on third down by deflecting a pass that was heading toward an open receiver. The Stallions were able to run out the clock.

It wasn't a flawless night for McGough, but the Stallion quarterback had a pair of huge plays in the game. His five-yard scramble for a touchdown on the final snap of the first half gave the Stallions a 10-9 lead. And his improvisation, athleticism and calmness were a big part of a 9-yard touchdown pass to Davion Davis that gave the Stallions a 17-12 lead with 9:40 left in the game.

"Actually, this is funny, the first guy I made miss I heard (Matt Kaskey), my right tackle, say 'Behind you,'" McGough said. "I immediately flipped my hip around and gave him a dead leg back to the right. And then I was trying to find somebody open. I just kept seeing people crossing in front of me. I tried to weave in and out. It took about 20 seconds before I found somebody."

McGough was 17 of 29 for 157 yards with a pair of first-half interceptions. He also rushed for a team-high 48 yards on 10 carries. Davis had eight catches for 71 yards and was targeted a team-high 10 times.

The Stallions' defense didn't allow a touchdown in three red-zone appearances by the Maulers. Linebacker Scooby Wright, who was hurt in the first half of the opener and missed the past two weeks, was the leading tackler in his return. Wright had six tackles, with a tackle for loss.

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