Muscle Sport Magazine

USFL Week 2 Recap

The follow-up to opening weekend in the United States Football League was a scheduled three-day affair, unlike its weather-related predecessor that stretched it an additional day. And the playing conditions were also cooperative. So this was a much better litmus test to see what these players and teams are capable of and they did not disappoint. Once again, Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Alabama held all four contests and we break each down:

MICHIGAN PANTHERS (0-2) at NEW JERSEY GENERALS (1-1)

It was time for Friday night lights in the USFL with the Week 2 opener, which pitted two teams looking for their first win on the young season. This ended up a low-scoring affair that was highlighted by tough defenses bending but not breaking and it hung in the balance literally to the last play.

One may look at the final score of 10-6 and mistakenly scoff about it as being a boring game. But this was anything but that and it pitted two teams that had dropped their respective openers. It is way too early for desperation talk, but no one wants to start out winless… in a brand new league especially. So this was an important game for both teams and it showed.

The Generals approached this game offensively much like they did a week ago, utilizing a two-quarterback system and a run-heavy, ball control offense. Their defense had Panthers quarterback Shea Patterson running out of the pocket all night long and he finished with only 124 yards on 14 of 29 passing. One of his best throws came during the last drive of the game when on fourth down and 20, he scrambled back into his own end zone and completed a pass on the run to move the chains. Even with a three-man rush, the New Jersey pass rush was effective and nearly had a sack and safety on that same play.

FINAL SCORE: Generals – 10, Panthers – 6

PITTSBURGH MAULERS (0-2) at PHILADELPHIA STARS (1-1)

Anything but the defensive struggle the previous game was, the battle for bragging rights in the Keystone State ended up being an exciting back-and-forth shootout, one that gave the Philadelphia Stars their first win of the season. The Pittsburgh Maulers fought gallantly, but came up short at the end.

Stars quarterback Bryan Scott had three touchdown passes against only one interception with 272 yards passing (26 for 36) and rushed for another score. Philadelphia started fast with a 14-3 advantage before the Maulers defense stepped up. cornerback Jaylon McClain Sapp – who had an interception on the Stars’ first drive to deny them any points – scooped up a loose ball at his own 21-yard-line after Scott had been sacked and stripped. Sapp ran a straight line 79 yards to cut into the deficit and give Pittsburgh the momentum.

Maulers signal caller Josh Love connected with tight end Hunter Thedford from five yards out to give his team a 16-14 lead, but Scott marched the Stars down the field on the ensuing drive and capped it off with a 20-yard toss to Maurice Alexander, Jr. to regain the lead at 21-16. After halftime, Love dropped a perfect pass into the arms of receiver Bailey Gaither and a 23-21 lead.

The Stars were far from done and Scott led his squad on another scoring drive that gave them a four-point edge in the final stanza. The situation was ripe for the new USFL rule of a three-point conversion (one play from scrimmage at the 10-yard line) and it was executed soundly to make the score 30-23 Philadelphia, which ended up being the final.

FINAL SCORE: Stars – 30, Maulers – 23

BIRMINGHAM STALLIONS (1-0) at HOUSTON GAMBLERS (1-0)

The Stallions started off fast with a 48-yard pick-six by cornerback Brian Allen. Not to be undone, the Gamblers Will Likely also had an interception and took it 63 yards to the house for a 9-7 lead. (Houston had kicked a field goal earlier in the quarter.) Two Birmingham field goals and Houston touchdown and field goal made it a 18-13 game at halftime.

With touchdowns in each of their first two drives of the third quarter, the Stallions took a 26-18 advantage before a Houston field goal trimmed their lead to five. But a 65-yard touchdown pass by J’mar Smith early in the fourth quarter padded Birmingham’s lead. A mere 42 seconds later, Houston answered with a quick strike of their own to make it a 33-28 game. A late interception by Birmingham sealed the deal for the ‘home’ squad.

FINAL SCORE: Stallions – 33, Gamblers – 28

NEW ORLEANS BREAKERS (1-0) at TAMPA BAY BANDITS (1-0)

A complete one-sided contest, the Breakers dominated the Bandits from start to finish and quarterback Kyle Sloter started off the rout with a run up the middle for a one-yard score. He threw for two more touchdowns and the defense did the rest, holding Tampa Bay to a field goal in the 34-3 win.

FINAL SCORE: Breakers – 34, Bandits – 3

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