The New Jersey Generals got their first win of the 2023 USFL season against the Pittsburgh Maulers in Canton. It wasn’t the prettiest win, but they were able to even their record at 1-1 and stay out of last place in the North Division.
We didn’t see an offensive touchdown until the fourth quarter when the Generals began to run away with the game, but the defenses were very good on both sides. We’ll look at how the game went down and where these two squads go from here.
The New Jersey Generals kicked off the scoring on their first drive where they went 36 yards in just under four minutes but stalled in the red zone. Kicker Nick Sciba came in and drilled a 34-yard field goal to make it 3-0. The score stayed that way until there was under three minutes left in the first half.
Ray Horton’s Pittsburgh Maulers went on a long 12-play drive and got a field goal of their own from 47 yards out, via kicker Nathan Hierlihy. That was the only points we saw the Maulers put up in this contest. The third quarter was much of the same and we saw one field goal kicked from 47 yards out by Sciba again, to give the Generals a 6-3 lead.
Early in the fourth quarter the Generals went on an 8-play 58-yard drive that was capped off with a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Dakota Prukop to receiver Cam Echols-Luper that gave New Jersey a 13-3 lead.
Defensive end Hercules Mata’afa recovered a fumble on an attempted screen pass by Maulers quarterback James Morgan two plays later and on the Generals next offensive play, running back Darius Victor punched it in from a yard out to make it 20-3 with under ten minutes to go.
Darius Victor (@yungvitov) scores his first TD of the year down by the goal line following the takeaway by the defense. The @USFLGenerals pulling away in the 4th quarter, scoring on back-to-back offensive plays. 20-3 with less than 10 mins remaining.#USFLpic.twitter.com/j78ko8ZtjM
From that point on, the Generals forced another turnover on a strip sack and ran as much clock as possible keeping it on the ground for the remainder of the game. The score is a bit deceptive, and this was a more competitive game than a 17-point differential would indicate.
A Look at the Numbers
We saw De’Andre Johnson and Dakota Prukop split time at quarterback again for the Generals. Johnson was 9/13 for 100 yards passing and Prukop was 4/8 for 36 yards passing and a touchdown pass to wide receiver Cam Echols-Luper. Echols-Luper finished with 4 catches for 57 yards to lead all Generals receivers.
Darius Victor ran the ball well and got 15 carries for 71 yards on the ground including a one-yard touchdown. Hercules Mata’afa forced and recovered a fumble that set up the Generals second touchdown and also recovered a second fumble that was forced by Tyshun Render on quarterback James Morgan.
OUR BALL ‼️
Tyshun Render and Hercules Mata'afa coming up clutch 🙌
Maulers quarterbacks James Morgan and Troy Williams split time much like their opponents but did not do much. Morgan was 8/14 for 54 yards and had three turnovers, two fumbles and an interception. Williams looked better, but still didn’t dazzle. He was 11/16 for just 70 yards and added 13 yards on the ground. Running back Madre London led the rush attack with 38 yards on 10 carries. Wide receiver Isiah Hennie was virtually the entire Mauler offense and had 9 catches for 53 yards before exiting with an injury.
Time of possession was nearly an even split but the New Jersey Generals outgained the Pittsburgh Maulers 248 to 166. This was far from an offensive shootout, but New Jersey did just enough when the opportunity presented itself.
They improved from last weekend in the red zone and got points when they got deep into Pittsburgh territory. They scored touchdowns on 2 of their 4 red zone attempts. The Maulers continued to struggle in the red zone themselves and could not punch the ball in from one yard out in the second quarter.
For the New Jersey Generals, they’re happy to bounce back and get a win heading into Detroit next week against the Michigan Panthers. That’s going to be a huge game that has early playoff implications and coming off a win should help, especially with the way they improved in the second half. The offense still lacks the explosiveness they had last season, but they seem to be getting on the right track.
Despite the big win, they still need better play from their receivers to be a truly balanced offense. Separation by the wideouts is a rarity and really hinders their ability to create big plays in the pass game, barring a defensive breakdown. As we have seen through two weeks, they continue to miss MVP KaVontae Turpin for their passing game. But if their defense continues to play this way, they can find themselves in every game they play.
On the other side, the Maulers are looking a lot like the USFL team we saw last year. Their defense is very good, but their offense is anemic. They have yet to score an offensive touchdown or get over 200 yards of total offense in both of their games. Their offensive line continues to be a concern as well, and they gave up five sacks to the Generals. They’ll need to regroup for their matchup in week three against the Philadelphia Stars and attempt to turn their season around.
What are your thoughts on this game between the Pittsburgh Maulers and New Jersey Generals? Which USFL players stood out? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!