Heading into the USFL’s opening weekend, we knew Philadelphia vs. New Orleans was going to be an exciting matchup.
The Philadelphia Stars are led by Bryan Scott and Head Coach Bart Andrus, who tore things up in The Spring League’s 2020 season. Meanwhile, Larry Fedora and Kyle Sloter were reunited on the New Orleans Breakers, as they both worked together at North Carolina.
After a slower start in the first half, things got quite exciting down the stretch. Let’s take a look at what went down in the USFL’s third game of the week.
Davin Bellamy opened up the game with a statement, sacking Bryan Scott on the first play from scrimmage. Philadelphia rebounded, however, and marched down the field efficiently on their opening drive.
Kicking has been a major issue for multiple teams to start the season, which was evident in this game as well. Matt Mengel missed a 45 yard field goal attempt, and New Orleans dodged a bullet early. The Breakers were not able to capitalize, and punted the ball quickly right back to Philadelphia.
That being said, the defense stepped up. Vontae Diggs jumped a route on Scott, and took the interception to the house, putting the Breakers on top 7-0.
.@Diggsy13 breaking through for our first-ever TD!! 🌊
Philadelphia had an incredible drive down the field that stretched between the end of the first into the second period. However, on four attempts from inside the ten yard line, the team could not find a way to punch it in, as the Stars remained scoreless.
New Orleans failed to take advantage, and punted the ball away once again. This allowed Philadelphia to hang around, despite the Breakers outplaying them defensively.
Speaking of the Breakers’ defense, they forced another punt from the Stars – and then proceeded to block it in the endzone, resulting in a safety. This gave the Breakers a 9-0 lead, and the ball in great field position.
SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY!
The @USFLBreakers break on through and block the punt out of the back of the end zone. #USFL
With not much time left in the half, the score remained at 9-7 heading into halftime, as New Orleans held the advantage.
Philadelphia’s positive momentum carried over into the second half. Kyle Sloter was drilled on a pass, which led to Channing Stribling with the interception on the other end, giving the Stars an opportunity to take the lead.
New Orleans continued to struggle offensively, unable to find a stride. Kyle Sloter, in particular, threw too many errant passes, looking awfully sloppy in his debut. Philadelphia was forced to punt again, which sparked a bit of life for the Breakers.
An excellent possession gave the Breakers a chance to regain the lead, and they took advantage of it. TJ Logan ran it in from eleven yards out, and a successful two point attempt gave New Orleans a 17-10 lead.
New Orleans continued to put together impressive drives. The team seamlessly marched down the field once again, regaining the lead on a Jordan Ellis touchdown run. A missed XP made it a 23-17 ball game early in the fourth.
Bryan Scott created some magic with a few excellent throws, but another missed field goal from Mengel kept it a six point affair. Interestingly enough, New Orleans went for it on a fourth down despite being up six, and failed to convert.
This gave Philadelphia another crack at it, but things didn’t go as planned. Bryan Scott was hit in the pocket, losing the football, and the Breakers recovered deep in Stars territory.
Even though things got off to a slow start offensively, both teams put it together in the second half. While kicking continued to be a glaring issue for both the Stars and the Breakers, you can see the improvements offensively from one half to the next.
If Philadelphia could have finished their scoring opportunities in the second half, odds are they would have won – especially since they dominated time of possession. But, at the end of the day, the Breakers did enough to get the job done. Defensively, they were outstanding down the stretch.