New Orleans Breakers Tops Michigan Panthers in First Overtime Thriller of the USFL Season

New Orleans Tops Michigan in First Overtime Thriller of the USFL Season

The USFL continued its Saturday slate of games with a late night showdown between the New Orleans Breakers and Michigan Panthers. Both teams were in very different situations heading into week seven – the Breakers were 4-2, while the Panthers sat at 1-5, with their playoff aspirations in the balance.

Last week, New Orleans stifled a late Pittsburgh comeback, ultimately beating the Maulers 26-16. Michigan was not so fortunate, as they saw the Birmingham Stallions run away with the lead in the fourth quarter.

Letโ€™s take a look at what went down in Saturday nightโ€™s matchup between these two teams.

First Quarter

Josh Love ended up getting the start for Jeff Fisherโ€™s offense, as Shea Patterson was released during the week. The Panthers could not find a groove on their first drive despite the good field position, having to punt quickly.

Michigan made things happen defensively, though. Jonathan Adams fumbled an end around, and the Panthers dove right on it, setting their offense up nicely.

Love found Devin Ross on a beautiful dime to set themselves up inside the ten yard line, but the team ultimately settled for a field goal from Cole Murphy. With a few minutes left in the period, Michigan led 3-0.

Michiganโ€™s defense continued to keep the pressure on New Orleans. Kyle Sloter could not buy any time in the pocket at all, being sacked by Justin Hughes to end the drive.

The Panthers could not take advantage, as New Orleans forced a quick three and out. After a mostly defensive-filled first quarter, Michigan went into the next quarter with a 3-0 lead.

Second Quarter

Interestingly enough, Zach Smith got the start on New Orleans ensuring drive, instead of Kyle Sloter. It turned out to be the right move, as the team went into a hurry up offense – dicing up Michiganโ€™s secondary seamlessly. A pass from Smith to a wide open Sal Cannella resulted in a score, putting the Breakers on top 7-3.

Josh Love looked pretty good on Michiganโ€™s next possession, converting on a fourth down and making plays for his offense. Unfortunately, a major miscue caused their second fourth down attempt to be unsuccessful, and the Panthers turned it over on downs.

The Breakers seemed to take control of momentum – but a dropped pass from Sean Poindexter on a crucial third down forced the team to punt again.

Michigan put together a great drive, slowly marching down the field while taking up a lot of clock. Disappointingly, a couple of dropped passes kept the team out of the end zone, but Cole Murphy knocked through a 49 yard field goal to make it a 7-6 ball game.

Kyle Sloter came back into the game for New Orleans, and quickly got to work. Despite taking some massive hits, Sloter threw bullet after bullet, marching the team down the field efficiently. A pass to Jonathan Adams in the end zone was caught, and the Breakers took a 14-6 lead.

Even though not much time was left in the half, a huge run from Cameron Scarlett set the team up with a chance to score. Cole Murphy was given the green light to attempt a 60 yard field goal – and absolutely nailed it. Heading into halftime, the Panthers trailed 14-9.

Third Quarter

New Orleans got off to a steady start in the second half. Sloter swiftly found his receivers, setting up the offense to score. A 39 yard field goal from Taylor Bertolet was successful, which gave the Breakers a 17-9 lead.

Michiganโ€™s first drive of the third quarter was a long one. The team methodically marched down the field, fueled by Loveโ€™s solid decision making. However, another dropped pass on third down caused the group to settle for another Murphy field goal, and they trailed 17-12.

The Panthers caught a huge break on the kickoff, as Taylor coughed up the football on the return. Kieron Williams jumped on it, giving Michigan possession as we hit the final period.

Fourth Quarter

Michigan finally capitalized on excellent field position with a touchdown. A big run from Reggie Corbin set the team up nicely, and Stevie Scott punched it in from two yards out. A successful two point conversion from Love to Lance Lenior Jr. put the Panthers in front 20-17.

Jordan Ellis got off to a hot start on the Breakers next drive, breaking out for a couple of impressive gains. Kyle Sloter found Anthony Jones on a screen, who then proceeded to break multiple tackles, galloping into the end zone. With this score, New Orleans regained the lead, 24-20.

The Panthers would not go away, as Love and Co. came right back at the Breakers defense time and time again. Even with an injured hand, Love made the right reads for his squad. Meanwhile, Reggie Corbin absolutely tore it up on the ground, which led to a score from Cameron Scarlett to put Michigan back on top 27-24.

Michiganโ€™s defense got the job done, forcing the Breakers to punt the ball. Michigan pulled out some trickery, as Joe Walker ended up throwing a pass after an end around. However, the drive stalled mid field, and New Orleans got the ball back.

Kyle Sloter just could not find a rhythm in the fourth quarter. A quick three and out gave Michigan the ball right back, with a chance to close the game out entirely. Fisher made a gutsy call, letting Murphy try a 54 yard field goal. It shaded just left of the goal post, setting up the Breakers with great field position.

This time, Sloter did his thing. He made several huge plays to put the team in a scoring position, and also had a bit of luck on his side. A wild catch by Adams put them inside the ten yard line with one second left, and Larry Fedora quickly called timeout. Taylor Bertolet knocked through the field goal, and we were treated to our first overtime of the USFLโ€™s season.

Overtime

Overtime is a unique concept in the USFL. Each team gets three cracks at a two point conversion. Whoever scores more during this period, comes out victorious. In tonight’s showdown, we were finally able to witness what this looks like in a real game.

Michigan got the first possession in overtime, but the snap went over Loveโ€™s head, leaving them empty handed.

Kyle Sloter found Anthony Jones on a quick screen, and that put New Orleans up 29-27 on their first attempt.

This time, Love received the snap, but his pass was tipped at the line, falling incomplete. Sloter took advantage, running it in for the game winning conversion on the next play.

New Orleans won the first overtime game in USFL history, coming back in the final moments to beat Michigan 31-27.

Final Thoughts

Well, that was absolutely insane. Every single week the USFL provides fans with plenty of entertainment, and Saturday was no exception. We were treated to the first OT game of the year, and it was incredible.

Ultimately, Michigan followed the same trend that they have all season long: not being able to close out a fourth quarter. Meanwhile, the Breakers showed major resilience, fighting back tooth and nail to win this one.

With this victory, New Orleans improves to 5-2. Michigan, on the other hand, drops to 1-6.

Did you enjoy watching Michigan vs. New Orleans? Which players performed the best in your opinion? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!