The Birmingham Stallions remained undefeated with a 26-16 comeback victory over the Pittsburgh Maulers on Sunday at Protective Stadium. With the win, the Stallions clinched the second USFL playoff spot.
“Step one is done with clinching a spot in Canton [Ohio, where the USFL playoffs will be held], and that’s a testament to this team,” said Birmingham Stallions’ head coach Skip Holtz. “We’re where we are because of the leaders on this football team.
“It’s easy to get caught up in the circus, and these guys have stayed humble and hungry.”
Faced with a 13-6 deficit early in the third quarter, Birmingham (7-0) fullback Bobby Holly burst through the line on a fake punt before plunging into the end zone for a 52-yard touchdown to tie the game at 13-13. Holly’s 52-yard scamper jumpstarted a 20-3 run for the Stallions as Birmingham closed the game with 20 of the game’s final 23 points.
Both teams established the ground game in Sunday’s matchup as Birmingham running back Bo Scarbrough reached 100 yards on 27 carries, while Pittsburgh (1-6) running back Madre London averaged 5.5 yards per carry with 99 yards on 18 carries. Holly and Birmingham running back CJ Marable each recorded rushing touchdowns, while London registered a rushing score of his own in Pittsburgh’s 10-point defeat.
Birmingham (7-0) plays again on Saturday at 2 p.m. against New Orleans (5-2), while Pittsburgh (1-6) takes on New Jersey (6-1) on Friday at 7 p.m.
Fourth-Quarter Surge Powers Philadelphia to 35-24 Win Over Houston
Faced with an 11-point deficit entering the fourth quarter, the Philadelphia Stars scored 22 unanswered points to earn a comeback victory over the Houston Gamblers Sunday night at Protective Stadium.
With Houston (1-6) holding a 24-13 lead after the third quarter, Philadelphia (4-3) quarterback Case Cookus connected with wide receiver Jordan Suell for a 39-yard touchdown to begin the 22-point avalanche in the fourth quarter. The Stars blanked Houston’s offense in the final 15 minutes, forcing two turnovers and ending the game with a safety.
“Cookus’ touchdown pass had a tremendous effect,” said Philadelphia Stars’ head coach Bart Andrus. “Any touchdown can spark a team, and we were losing lineman left and right, so this team fought through that, too.
“It was really good to see how focused and determined this team was in the fourth quarter.”
Cookus completed 21-of-31 passes for 163 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Running back Matthew Colburn II paced the Stars on the ground with 75 yards and a touchdown. Channing Stribling, the league leader in interceptions, grabbed a fourth-quarter interception to add to his season tally.
Houston’s pair of quarterbacks, starter Clayton Thorson and backup Kenji Bahar, combined to go 18-of-25 with 171 yards passing, a touchdown and one interception. On defense, outside linebacker Donald Payne grabbed two interceptions and finished the game with a team-high nine tackles.
New Orleans Defeats Michigan 31-27 in USFL’s First Overtime Game
The New Orleans Breakers rallied from a late deficit to force overtime before quarterback Kyle Sloter sealed the victory with a two-yard scramble for a game-winning two-point conversion to defeat the Michigan Panthers 31-27 at Protective Stadium.
The Breakers’ walk-off victory capped off the USFL’s first overtime game this season.
New Orleans’ pair of quarterbacks Sloter and Zach Smith combined to go 20-for-32 with 228 yards passing and three passing touchdowns. Despite trailing 2-0 in turnover margin, the Breakers did not settle for field goals in the red zone and converted both their two-point attempts in overtime to move to 5-2 on the season.
“One thing about our guys is that they don’t blink in the face of adversity,” said New Orleans Breakers’ head coach Larry Fedora. “For us, two-point plays are something that we practice because this is a unique, fun system.
“Our guys didn’t think much about it because we practice those plays every week, and we really like this overtime system.”
Michigan (1-6) running back Reggie Corbin paced the Panthers on the ground, rushing for a game-high 108 yards on 13 carries. Corbin became the first USFL running back to record three 100-yard performances following Saturday night’s performance.
New Jersey Secures Playoff Berth With 20-13 Win Over Tampa Bay
The New Jersey Generals (6-1) made a late defensive stop to secure a 20-13 victory over the Tampa Bay Bandits (3-4) in Saturday’s game at Protective Stadium. New Jersey’s seven-point win helped the Generals clinch the USFL’s first playoff spot of the season.
Turnover margin served as a key factor to New Jersey’s sixth win of the season, intercepting three Tampa Bay passes while not committing a turnover of its own to hold a 3-0 advantage in the category. The Generals then turned the Bandits over on downs with less than a minute remaining to seal the victory.
“You just find a way to win games, and sometimes it’s this part, and sometimes it’s another,” said New Jersey Generals’ head coach Mike Riley. “When you control the turnover battle like that, then you win the game. It’s pretty simple.”
Generals’ safety Dravon Askew-Henry shined on defense in the victory, finishing the game with eight tackles, three passes defended and two interceptions. Askew-Henry’s final pass breakup came on Tampa Bay’s final offensive play.
Offensively, New Jersey quarterback Luis Perez recorded an efficient performance, completing 19-of-25 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown. Running back Darius Victor paced the Generals on the ground with 14 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown.
Tampa Bay quarterback Jordan Ta’amu aired it out for the Bandits in the setback, completing 17 of his 37 pass attempts for 237 yards. Ta’amu tossed one touchdown in the fourth quarter, but his three interceptions proved costly for the Bandits in the one-score defeat.