After week one of the USFL season, every team from the South division — Stallions, Gamblers, Breakers and Bandits — ended with a win, while the North division — Panthers, Maulers, Generals and Stars —saw nothing but tallies in the loss column.
This week consisted of all inter-divisional matchups as the favored Michigan Panthers found themselves looking down the 0-2 barrel, while the other favorites, the Tampa Bay Bandits, were humbled by the dominant New Orleans Breakers offense. Meanwhile, the Maulers, Stars, Stallions and Gamblers all had flashes of excitement on both sides of the ball.
Michigan Panthers 6 vs New Jersey Generals 10
In the lowest-scoring game of the USFL, the Generals defeated the Panthers in a sloppy game of football. The Generals struck first with a field goal in the first quarter behind running back Darius Victor’s 36 yards on the ground. The Panthers defense stepped up big early in the second quarter when safety Orion Stewart picked off Generals quarterback Luis Perez’s throw across the middle. This set up the Panthers to take their first and only lead of the day as running back Reggie Corbin pounded the rock for 16 yards and running back Cameron Scarlett punched it in for six. Perez and fellow quarterback De’Andre Johnson, trading turns behind center, marched down the field, allowing Victor to score a touchdown just after the two-minute warning to give the Generals a 10-6 lead at the half.
That score did not change the rest of the game as both defenses held up in the second half. On the last drive, however, the Panthers had the opportunity to steal the game as quarterback Shea Patterson put his mobility and elusiveness on display. Leading the team down to the 16-yard line with five seconds left, Shea dropped the pass, ending with an incomplete pass.
Player of the Game: RB Darius Victor 40 yds, 1 TD
Pittsburgh Maulers 23 vs Philadelphia Stars 30
In the battle for Pennsylvania, the Stars established themselves as a dominant force in the North, defeating the Maulers. It was not a pretty start for the Stars, however, as their first two drives ended with an interception and fumble respectively. This included an incredible one-hand interception by Maulers cornerback Jaylon McClain-Sapp. The next two Stars possessions ended much differently, recording two consecutive touchdowns. The first was a three-yard one-handed catch by wide receiver Diondre Overton and the second was a quarterback sneak that had Bryan Scott flipping into the endzone for a 14-3 lead. Scott was then strip-sacked as McClain-Sapp took it all the way back to make it 14-10 Maulers.
Each team exchanged touchdowns before the end of the half to make it a 21-16 contest. The Maulers took their lead back as quarterback Josh Love sent a deep 37-yard bullet to wide receiver Bailey Gaither for a 23-21 advantage. Scott struck back in the fourth quarter as he led his team down the field for a touchdown and the league’s first-ever three-point conversion. Love was intercepted on a deflection during the Stars’ last-chance drive, ending the game 30-23 in favor of Philadelphia.
Player of the Game: QB Bryan Scott 26/36, 272 Yds, 3 TD, 1 Int, 110 QBR
Birmingham Stallions 33 vs Houston Gamblers 28
In another offensive duel, the hometown Stallions became the first undefeated team while the Gamblers fell to 1-1. Less than a minute in, Stallions cornerback Brian Allen read a comeback route and took quarterback Clayton Thorson’s pass back for six. The Gamblers answered back almost immediately as cornerback Will Likely made a diving interception, jumped to his feet and took it 62 yards to the house. The quarter ended 10-9 Stallions. Gamblers wide receiver Isaiah Zuber shook his defender and Thorson found him cutting into the middle for a 25-yard touchdown at the beginning of the second frame.
The half, marked by messy play, ended with a 18-13 Gamblers lead. The Stallions broke it open in the third quarter as wide receiver Osirus Mitchell caught quarterback J’Mar Smith’s 34-yard lob for a touchdown. The Stallions then inched their way up the field for running back CJ Marable to cut into the endzone for a 26-18 lead. Following a Gamblers field goal, the game became a shootout as Smith hit wide receever Marlon Williams, who burned his defender, for a 64-yard bomb. The Gamblers responded as Thorson, falling backward, threw a 44-yard touchdown to a streaking Tyler Simmons. Down 33-28, the Gamblers had one last shot, but a high pass off the hands of Simmons was intercepted to end a thrilling matchup.
Player of the Game: QB J’Mar Smith 20/30, 229 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT, 97.8 QBR
New Orleans Breakers 34 vs Tampa Bay Bandits 3
Whether it was Breakers quarterback Kyle Sloter’s 266 yards or the Bandits three turnovers, the Breakers dominated to go to 2-0 on the season. For every Breakers touchdown in the first quarter, the Bandits answered with a punt. Sloter and the Breakers slowly made their way up the field for a one-yard QB sneak for a 6-0 lead. Less than two minutes later, the Breakers were back at it with another five-minute drive that ended with running back T.J. Logan Jr. taking a five-yard handoff to the house. A solid drive by Bandits quarterback Jordan Ta’amu and running back Juwan Washington chipped away at the Breakers’ lead as kicker Tyler Rausa hit a 22-yard field goal to make it 14-3.
From there, it was all Breakers. First, New Orleans wide receiver Shawn Poindexter made an 18-yard touchdown grab, but wide receiver Jonathon Adams made the highlight reel with an Odell-Esque catch just before. The score was 21-3 at the half and remained that way throughout the third quarter as both teams went scoreless. The Breakers tacked on two field goals and a final touchdown to seal the victory.
Player of the Game: QB Kyle Sloter 25/39, 266 YDS, 2 TDs, 0 INT, 101 QBR