By Will Freeman
New Jersey Generals 25
Michigan Panthers 23
This matchup in the North Division there is only one thing being played for the Generals to clinch the one seed in the division for the opening round game in Canon, Ohio for the playoffs. While the Panthers are in the bottom tied with the same record as the Maulers. The Panthers have a chance for a potential “Tank Bowl” game in week 10 if they do not pull out a victory here. De’Andre Johnson got the start for the Generals at quarterback and will split time with Luis Perez in each series for this game. Johnson was able to go down the field for a 36 yard FG attempt, but was missed by kicker Austin Jones. Jones was soon able to redeem himself after Panthers quarterback was intercepted by defensive tackle Toby Johnson and made a 36 yard FG to take a three point lead to end the score in the first quarter 3-0 Generals. The Panthers made a change in the second quarter at quarterback in as well putting in Eric Barriere after being with the team for two weeks. After the series with Barriere the Panthers were forced to punt and the Generals then scored on the return with receiver KaVontae Turpin for 71 yards. The Panthers were finally able to a rhythm on offense with Love at quarterback with successful passes to receiver Joe Walker. Walker would later score a touchdown from Love for two yards, but kick Cole Murphy missed the PAT. The Generals responded with some trickery with a WR reverse pitch for a 24 yard run by receiver Cam Echols-Luper, but kicker Jones missed the PAT. The Panthers responded quickly with a long gain by Walker again and got a passing score from Love to Ishmael Hyman for 25 yards. The Panthers were successful on their 2-point conversion with a halfback pass from Cameron Scarlett to tight end Connor Davis. The Generals were able to get into field goal range, but Jones’s kicking woes missing one for 38 yards bringing the score at the half 16-14 Generals.
The Generals added to their score in the third quarter with a Jones 30 yard field goal after an interception by Love from cornerback Trae Elston. The Panthers took the lead for the first time in this game by one with a passing touchdown from Barriere to Walker for 22 yards, but failed on the 2-point conversion QB sneak. The Panthers scored again in the fourth quarter with a 25 yard field goal to increase their lead by four. The Generals then responded back with a passing score from Perez to receiver Darrius Shepard for 17 yards, but Jones once again missed a PAT making the Generals lead only by two. The Generals were able to survive by an interception of Barriere by safety Paris Ford in the final fifty seconds in the game. The Generals now have the one seed locked up while now the Panthers prepare for the final game next week for the possible battle for last place in the North Division.
Houston Gamblers 17
Birmingham Stallions 15
This matchup in the South Division puts the best and worst teams against each other. The Stallions undefeated while the Gamblers only have one win. The Stallions already in the playoffs while Gamblers are eliminated and just playing to get better and try to get the upset win. The first half was all defense and kicking. The lone score in the first quarter came for the Stallions with a 25 yard field goal by kicker Brandon Aubrey. The Gamblers kicker Nick Vogel answered back with a 24 yard field goal to tie. Aubrey answered back with a 27 yard field goal as did Vogel with a 29 yard field goal to tie again. The Gamblers defense stopped the Stallions quickly in order to get ball within the final two minutes of the half to take the lead with Vogel getting a long 50 yard field goal to end the half 9-6.
The next score came in the middle of the third quarter by not a field goal, but a safety from a intentional grounding penalty by Stallions quarterback J’Mar Smith in the Gamblers end zone to increase their lead by two. The first touchdown of the game came near the end of the third quarter for the Stallions with a passing score from Smith to receiver Adrian Hardy for 33 yards, but failed on the 2-point conversion and took the lead by one. The Gamblers answered back with a passing score of their own with a play action from quarterback Kenji Bahar to receiver Isaiah Zuber for 23 yard, but also failed in their 2-point conversation and took the lead by five. The Stallions soon cut the Gamblers lead by two with an 28 yard field goal from Aubrey. To close this game it came within the two minute warning with the Gamblers cornerback Micha Abernathy intercepting Smith for the Gamblers offense to run the clock to gain the upset win over the now previously undefeated Stallions 15-13. Special teams was the main reason for the Gamblers victory with their kick return game averaging 35 yards to get good field positioning and punter Andrew Galitz pinning the Stallions offense deep in their territory.
Tampa Bay Bandits 6
New Orleans Breakers 17
This matchup is for the number two seed in the South Division. Breakers would clinch with a victory while the Bandits need to win their next two to clinch it. All of first quarter was all defense. Both quarterbacks Jordan Ta’amu and Kyle Sloter were both pressured and sacked multiple times. Each defense got a turnover with the Bandits in the first quarter getting an interception from linebacker Anthony Butler, and the Breakers getting a fumble recovery in the second quarter with running back BJ Emmons losing the ball with safety Jarey Elder recovering the ball. The Breakers then replaced Sloter with Zach Smith at quarterback and scored on this drive with help from a roughing the kicker penalty to get a passing score from Smith to tight end Sal Cannella, but Breakers kicker Taylor Bertolet missed the PAT. The Bandits in the next series fumbled the ball again by receiver Rashard Davis and recovered by cornerback Adonis Alexander. The Breakers soon turned that turnover into points with a field goal by Bertolet for 26 yards. The Breakers soon got more points from a turnover when Ta’amu overthrew his check down and was intercepted by cornerback Derrick Jones returning it for 52 yards, Breakers running back Jordan Elis got the running score for 3 yards, and with Sloter back in at quarterback after Smith got injured with a successful 2-point conversation pass to tight end Cannella. The score at the end of the half 0-17 Breakers.
No score in the third quarter with it being a defensive battle with both teams with only one turnover for the Bandits when linebacker Anthony Butler recover the fumble by Breakers Anthony Jones. The Bandits woes continued in the fourth quarter when kicker Tyler Rausa missed a 49 yard field goal wide left. The Bandits finally got on the scoreboard with a passing touchdown from Ta’amu to Davis for 31 yards, but failed on the 2-point conversion. The Bandits then for the alternative kickoff for the 4 and 12 option and failed by 1 yard on a QB run by Ta’amu giving the ball to the Breakers on a turnover on downs. The Bandits did get the ball back, but Ta’amu was intercepted by cornerback Alexander shutting the door on the Bandits comeback. The Breakers now clinched the number two seed in the South Division to take on the Stallions in the first round of the playoffs in Canton, Ohio and the Bandits are now officially eliminated from the playoffs.
Philadelphia Stars 17
Pittsburgh Maulers 16
This matchup in the South Division has the number two seed facing off against the team in last place. Things did not start well for Maulers in the first quarter when quarterback Vad Lee was intercepted by Stars cornerback Channing Stribling and returned it for 50 yards. The Stars were able to turn that turnover into points by a field goal by kicker Luis Aguilar for 47 yards. The Maulers soon responded with a field goal of own by kicker Ramiz Ahmed for 59 yards to tie the game at the end of the first quarter. The beginning of the second quarter began with a fumble by Stars running back Matt Colburn II by Maulers by safety Malcolm Elmore. The Maulers scored the first touchdown of the game with a fake field goal pass by kicker Ramiz to linebacker Malcolm Howard for 14 yards to take the lead. The Stars tried to respond back, but failed to take advantage. Kicker Aguilar missed a 54 yard field goal, and failed to take advantage with another interception from Lee by linebacker Te’Von Coney when Stars quarterback Case Cookus by cornerback Terrell Bonds to end the half 3-10 Maulers.
It wasn’t until the last minutes of the third quarter when the Stars tied it on a fourth down goal line run by running back Paul Terry. The Maulers then took the lead with a passing touchdown by Lee to receiver Tre Walker for 28 yards, but Ramiz missed the PAT to make their lead by six. The Stars scored next after a fumble by The Maulers Lee recovered by defensive end Freedom Akinmoladun, for running back Colburn II to score 51 yard rushing TD, and Aguilar getting the PAT to take the lead by one. The Maulers tried to take back the lead, but running back Madre London fumbled the ball and was recovered by defensive tackle Antwan Owens. The Stars Aguilar the missed a 46 yard field goal giving the Maulers one more chance to get the victory, but Ramiz missed a 49 yard field goal with less than one minute left in the game. Stars were able to run clock down to take the win 17-16.
With all the playoff spots now taken week 10 is mostly about getting more reps and getting players film for those not going to Canton, Ohio. I expect the playoff teams to get their backups in more and non playoff teams with their starters. One game in week 10 has two teams facing each other with the same record 1-8 which is the Panthers vs Maulers game. This game in which I will call the “Tank Bowl” in which the loser will pick first in next season’s draft.
Week 10 Picks
Stars vs Generals Stars
Stallions vs Bandits Bandits
Panthers vs Maulers Panthers
Breakers vs Gamblers Gamblers