By Will Freeman
New Jersey Generals 20
Tampa Bay Bandits 13
With only four weeks left in the regular season of the USFL and only four playoff spots are up for grabs to go to Canton, Ohio. And that is what happened with General’s head coach Mike Riley and his team in week 7. With De’Andre Johnson out for the Generals Luis Perez started at quarterback for this game. The first score of this game came from a pass from Perez to star receiver KaVontae Turpin for 15 yards. The Bandits first score came from a FG from kicker Tyler Rausa for 34 yards after converting a fourth down with Jordan Ta’amu passing to an eligible offensive tackle Corbin Kaufusi who is 6’9 and weighs 320 pounds. In the 2nd quarter the Generals responded back with a running score by Darius Victor for 6 yards to take the lead. Ta’amu did not have a good 2nd quarter which started getting intercepted by safety Dravon Askew-Henry and missing throws that gave the Generals to score another field goal making the score 17-3. Before the end of the half Ta’amu was once again was intercepted by Askew-Henry.
Ta’amu’s woes continued in the start of the 3rd with another interception this time by safety Shalom Lunai. Both teams then added field goals by each teams’ kickers bringing the score to 20-6 in the first few minutes in the 4th quarter. The Bandits started making a comeback with a 20 yard passing score from Ta’amu to receiver John Franklin III to bring the score to 20-13. Bandits were able to get the ball back after a punt and had the opportunity to tie the game until Ta’amu threw an incomplete pass on a fourth down with 35 seconds left to give the Generals the victory and a playoff spot. The Bandits still have a chance to get the second playoff in the South Division, but that was made a lot of harder from the second Saturday game.
New Orleans Breakers 31
Michigan Panthers 27
Earlier in the week the Panthers released quarterback Shea Patterson, and then was claimed by the Breakers. The Panthers then put Paxton Lynch back on the active roster and claimed Josh Love off waivers from the Maulers. The first score of the game came from a 26 yard field goal by kicker Cole Murphy of the Panthers from a fumble recovery by defensive tackle Jaquan Bailey. The Breakers got on the board in the 2nd quarter by a 3 yard passing score from Zach Smith to tight end Sal Cannella. New starting Panthers quarterback Jordan Love both used his arm and legs to get the Panthers another field goal by Murphy for 49 yards. Breakers quarterback Kyle Sloter answered back with a passing score to receiver Jonathan Adams for 5 yards within the last two minutes of the quarter. The Panthers within the final seconds before halftime made a league record long field goal by Murphy with the score 14-9 Breakers.
3rd quarter scoring was all field goals with one by Taylor Bertolet for 39 yards, and Panthers Murphy for 34 yards. Now comes to the wild 4th quarter scoring. First was from the Panthers running back Stevie Scott III for one yard touchdown and then a successful 2-point conversion pass from Love to receiver Lance Lenior Jr for the Panthers to take the lead 17-20. Within two minutes the Breakers responded with a passing score from Sloter to Jones for 33 yards to get back the lead 24-20. Shortly after the Panthers got a running score by C Scarlett to take the lead by three. The Panthers then missed a field goal to start the two minute warning. The Breakers were able to tie the game 27-27 with a 26 yard field goal by Bertolet to take this game into the USFL’s first overtime. USFL’s overtime rules is a best of 3 shootout with each conversion worth two points. The Panthers were unable to compete any of their two attempts including one with the snap going over Love’s head. Breakers were successful on their two attempts with a Sloter pass to Jones and a run on his own to get the Breakers the victory. The Breakers playoff hopes looks bright while the Panthers still have a chance if the Stars lose their game on Sunday.
Birmingham Stallions 26
Pittsburgh Maulers 16
With a win today the Stallions punched their ticket to Canton, Ohio with the number one seed in the South division. The Stallions started off with a 27 yard field goal by Brandon Aubrey. The Maulers answered back with a four yards running score by Madre London making the game score 3-7 at the end of the 1st quarter with the Maulers taking the lead against the undefeated Stallions. The Maulers then added to their lead with the running attack of London with a 43 yard field goal by Ramiz Ahmed. The Stallions answered back with a field goal of their own with a 46 yard kick by Aubrey. The final drive of half for the Maulers was very questionable even commentators Joel Klatt and Kevin Kugler said that they had no idea what the Maulers are doing. The Maulers go into halftime with their first lead of the season 6-10.
The Stallions took the lead in the 3rd with a fake punt run touchdown by full back Bobby Holly for 52 yards. The Maulers then got a turnover by an interception from safety Bryce Torneden and return it for 36 yards and turned that into points by an Ahmed field goal for 43 yards tying the game 13-13. The Stallions then responded with a field goal of their own by Aubrey for 43 yards to take the lead and further extended it with a rushing touchdown from running back CJ Marable for 5 yards to lead by 10. The Maulers then got a long 58 yard field goal by Ahmed. Maulers coach Kirby Wilson then decided to change quarterbacks from Vad Lee to David Rivers. Apparently, Wilson made the choice to change due to Lee’s body language. Rivers first series was unsuccessful and had to punt, but his second series he was to extend the play to get a field goal try. And that try by Ahmed missed for 52 yards giving the Stallions the victory and a ticket to Canton, Ohio. The Maulers still have a small chance depending how the Stars do against the Gamblers, but if the Maulers had an owner and was not owned by the league Kirby Wilson would probably be fired.
Philadelphia Stars 35
Houston Gamblers 24
The Stars trying to protect their number 2 seed in order to get to Canton, Ohio. It did not start well for the Stars when the first score of the game came from the Stars first possession from Case Cookus throwing an interception while getting hit for a return score from Gamblers linebacker Donald Payne for 39 yards. The Stars went three and out in the next offensive series and the Gamblers extended their lead by 10 with a 29 yard field goal by kicker Nick Vogel. Case Cookus had a better performance in the next series going down the field a get score by a 36 yard field goal by kicker Luis Aguilar to get 3-10 score at the end of the 1st quarter. The Stars started gaining momentum with the Stars defense getting the Gamblers offense to their own two yard line and blocked the punt by tight end Bug Howard for excellent field position at the Gamblers 17. The Stars then cut the Gamblers lead by four with an Aguilar 30 yard field goal. The Stars answered backed with a running score by running back Matt Corburn III for 4 yards to take the lead by 3. Gamblers woes continue with a strip sack by linebacker James Crawford. Then Cookus threw another interception to linebacker Payne. They soon turned that turnover into points with a passing touchdown from backup quarterback Kenji Bahar to tight end Brandon Barnes to take the lead 13-17 to end the first half.
Gamblers quarterback Clayton Thorson was designated out with an elbow injury so Kenji Bahar was in at quarterback at the start of the 3rd quarter. In the Gamblers second offensive series Bahar led the Gamblers down the field that ended with a running score by running back Mark Thompson for 9 yards to extend their lead by eleven. The Stars did not respond until the beginning of the 4th quarter with a passing touchdown from Cookus to wide receiver Jordan Suell for 39 yards to cut the Gamblers lead by four. Gamblers next series ended up with no points with a missed Vogel field goal. The Stars then took the lead by three thanks to a running score by running back Darnell Holland thanks to a long run by Cookus earlier. Then Bahar was intercepted, but thanks to a blocking penalty the return touchdown did not count. The Gamblers defense came up big forcing the Stars to only a 33 yard field goal and stopping the clock to 2:25 with using all three of their timeouts. Bahr then fumbled the ball and was recovered by Stars defensive tackle Ralph Holley. The Stars ran the ball three times to run the clock down and kicker Aguilar got a 41 yard field goal. With little time remaining the Stars got some insurance getting a safety by defensive end Adam Rodriguez to end the game 35-24. The Gamblers are now officially out of playoff contention.
Two playoff spots are now taken for the trip to Canton, Ohio. The Stallions in the South Division and the Generals in the North Division. The number 2 seeds have not be claimed yet, but the Breakers in the South should possibly be claimed if they beat the Stallions next week. The North 2 seed is still up for grabs with the Stars in lead right now, but if they get victory over Panthers next week they well take it. If there was a review to what head coaches not to being back for the second season in the USFL its Maulers Kirby Wilson. You got that chicken salad situation in week one, the team only has one win, questionable play calling near the end of the first half this week, and deciding to change quarterbacks due to Vad Lee’s body language. He needs to go, but probably won’t get fired until the season is over with.
MY Week 8 Picks
Maulers vs Generals Generals
Breakers vs Stallions Breakers
Panthers vs Stars Stars
Gamblers vs Bandits Gamblers