Saturday’s slate in the USFL continued with the Birmingham Stallions taking on the Houston Gamblers. Birmingham was the only undefeated team left in the league, sitting at 8-0. Meanwhile, Houston had lost seven straight games, desperately trying to find a way to win.
During the last two times these teams played, Birmingham won a shootout in week two. This time around, things looked quite a bit different, as Clayton Thorson was out for the year with an elbow injury.
Let’s take a look at what happened in tonight’s game between these two South Division rivals.
Houston got the ball first, with Kenji Bahar at the helm. Mark Thompson and Isaiah Zuber were back on the field for the Gamblers, after missing last week with injuries. That being said, Houston’s offense didn’t go anywhere, having to punt quickly.
Birmingham was backed up inside their own five yard line to start their drive, but methodically marched down the field. After a missed opportunity on third down, the Stallions settled for a Brandon Aubrey field goal, putting the team on top 3-0.
Houston put together a methodical drive of their own, marching down the field efficiently. Kenji Bahar made some nice throws, and Tyler Palka proved to be a valuable asset of his own. However, they had to settle for another field goal, tying the game up at 6.
🎯 @NickVogel5 makes his second field goal of the day and once again ties the score
The Stallions struggled to find a rhythm in the first half, despite a couple of good drives to start the game. Birmingham had to punt, giving Houston a chance to take the lead before halftime. The Gamblers could not capitalize, punting the ball right back. Houston’s defense continued to put the pressure on J’Mar Smith, forcing Birmingham into another punt.
Houston could not find a way to get their own offensive unit into a groove, so they handed the ball right back to the Stallions. Interestingly enough, a holding penalty was called in the endzone, which resulted in a safety – and Houston took an 11-6 lead.
The Gamblers offense continued to stall out, which allowed Birmingham to hang around. J’Mar Smith found Adrian Hardy for a touchdown, which put the Stallions on top 12-11. It was an unfortunate break for Jamar Summers – who had an interception go right through his hands, resulting in a touchdown.
With fifteen minutes left to play, Birmingham held a 12-11 lead, hoping to remain unbeaten on the season.
Houston got off to a fantastic start in the fourth period. Kenji Bahar swiftly marched the team down the field, and then dropped a dime to Isaiah Zuber who scored. Just like that, the Gamblers took a 17-12 advantage.
Birmingham’s offense started to come alive, as Smith pushed the ball down the field efficiently. However, a huge play by Micah Abernathy in the red zone held the Stallions to a field goal, and it was 17-15.
Both teams took turns punting to one another, as was the trend for most of the game. With a few minutes left, Houston had possession of the football – with a chance to seal the deal. However the team could not figure things out, which gave the Stallions one last possession to take the lead.
Thankfully for the Gamblers, their defense came to play. For the first time since, well, week one, this defensive unit made the big play to win the game. Micah Abernathy intercepted a pass from Smith, which ultimately sealed the deal.
Generally speaking, tonight’s game between Birmingham and Houston was quite messy. Sloppy offense dominated the affair, as neither team could find much of a rhythm all night long.
At the end of the day, Houston was able to make enough plays to hand Birmingham their first loss of the year, in impressive fashion. Kenji Bahar stepped up in the second half, and propelled this team to victory.
With this win, Houston breaks a seven game losing streak, improving to 2-7 on the year. On the other hand, Birmingham’s hopes of having an undefeated season are now shattered, falling to 8-1 on the season.