Week six of the USFL continued on Saturday night, with the undefeated Birmingham Stallions taking on the Michigan Panthers. Despite the difference in records coming into the game, it was bound to be an entertaining matchup – and it was.
Last week, Birmingham dominated against Philadelphia, shutting them out in the second half en route to a 30-17 victory. Meanwhile, Michigan suffered another heartbreaking loss, losing a fumble to Tampa Bay on their final drive.
Let’s take a look at what happened in tonight’s showdown between the Stallions and the Panthers.
Michigan got the football to start, and looked relatively solid. Reggie Corbin put the team in scoring position, but a false start negated a big gain. Fortunately, Cole Murphy is a sensational kicker, banging through a 56 yarder to put the Panthers on top 3-0.
On their opening drive, Birmingham smoothly marched the ball down the field. J’Mar Smith found his wide receivers on a few clutch third down conversions, including an incredible catch from Marlon Williams. However, Michigan’s defense held up in the red zone, leading to a short field goal from Brandon Aubrey.
Unfortunately, a rain delay hit the game, as lightning was detected in the area. This postponed the game for quite some time, which is never an ideal situation for players to be in.
End Of Second Quarter
Once the game resumed, Michigan gained possession of the football. The team could not find a rhythm on offense, however, and punted quickly to Birmingham. The Stallions missed on a couple of opportunities, though, and gave the ball right back to Michigan.
The Panthers found a groove on their next drive, as Patterson and Corbin effectively pushed the ball down the field. On fourth and goal, Shea Patterson ran it in from a yard out, tying the game up at 10 a piece.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, Lance Lenoir Jr. fumbled after a completion, as DeMarquis Gates forced it loose – handing the ball right back to Birmingham. However, the team again missed on what would have been an easy touchdown, and had to settle for a field goal.
Michigan was unable to score on their final drive of the half. Heading into halftime, Birmingham led 13-10.
To start the second half, Birmingham put together an excellent drive. Bo Scarbrough generated some big plays for the team, before Smith found Tony Brooks-James for the score. A missed XP kept it a one possession game, as the Stallions went on top 19-10.
Michigan responded effectively. Shea Patterson swiftly marched the team down the field, making excellent throws time and time again. Patterson found Devin Ross in stride for a touchdown, and the Panthers trailed 19-17.
Interestingly enough, Alex McGough replaced Smith on Birmingham’s next drive, despite Smith leading the team to a touchdown on the previous possession.
The good news for Birmingham was Scarbrough’s intensity on the offensive end. He pounded the rock to start the fourth quarter, as Michigan had no answers for him. Bo finally got his, running it in from 30 yards out, as he athletically dove past the pylon.
Things did not get any better for Michigan. Even though they were down 26-17, it was a one score game – but a tipped pass at the line was intercepted by Jonathan Newsome, giving the ball right back to the Stallions.
It seemed like Michigan would get the ball back, as they had Birmingham in a 3rd and 26 situation. But, the Panthers continued to shoot themselves in the foot. Blown coverage resulted in a deep pass for the first down, giving Birmingham life again.
💪 @McgoughAlex showing off his arm with this ROCKET for the first down 🚀
Michigan did not have much time left, and despite marching the ball into Birmingham territory, the team could not find a way to score. A huge sack from Jo-Jo Tillery ended the drive, putting the Stallions in winning position.
Week six in the USFL is off to an excellent start, as both games today were simply fantastic. Birmingham proved to be the stronger team in this matchup, and they found a way to stay undefeated despite a sloppy first half.
Michigan simply continues to shoot themselves in the foot down the stretch. As Jeff Fisher said in a halftime interview, this game was going to be won or lost on a turnover. Patterson throwing a tipped interception crushed Michigan’s momentum, and was the turning point in the fourth quarter.
Birmingham is playing some of the best spring football we’ve ever seen, and have improved to 6-0 on the season. Meanwhile, the Panthers drop to 1-5, as their playoff hopes continue to dissipate.