Week four of the USFL begins with the Michigan Panthers taking on the Philadelphia Stars. This was an important matchup for both teams, as the victor will grab hold of the second seed in the division.
Philadelphia and Michigan are both 1-2, but heading into this week, things were not looking great for the Stars. Bryan Scott, the league’s best QB through week two, went down with an injury last Sunday. He is now out indefinitely, which leads to Case Cookus taking the starting role.
Meanwhile, Paxton Lynch was injured during Michigan’s week three outing, so Shea Patterson regained his starting position for the Panthers. We were treated to a very entertaining game on a late Friday night – let’s take a look at what all went down.
Philadelphia got the ball to start the game, giving us an early look at Case Cookus. He was in command from the get go, marching the Stars down the field alongside some strong running from Paul Terry. After a fourth down conversion, the team did have to settle for a short field goal, taking a 3-0 lead.
Michigan took advantage of the turnover, pushing the ball right down the field. On 3rd down, Shea Patterson impressively avoided some pressure, and tip-toed his way into the end zone. A missed XP left points off the board, though, as the Panthers trailed 10-9.
The Panthers continued to keep the pressure on Philadelphia defensively. After a promising drive, a miscommunication between Cookus and his receiver resulted in a Sean Williams interception, giving Michigan the ball back.
Well, the fireworks continued for Michigan. On the very next play, Reggie Corbin broke loose, blowing past every defender for an 88 yard score. A successful two point conversion gave the Panthers a 17-10 lead with a couple minutes left in the first half.
While Philadelphia put together a good march towards the end of the quarter, a missed field goal from Matt Mengel left the score at 17-10. It looked like Michigan would capitalize – but a tipped pass resulted in an interception for Jordan Moore, giving Philadelphia the ball right back.
The Stars wasted no time in making the most of their opportunity. Cookus found Diondre Overton wide open, who waltzed into the end zone to tie the game up at 17. Heading into halftime, it was an exciting affair with both teams exploding in the second quarter.
Michigan got the ball to start the second half, but failed to make anything happen on their opening drive. Philadelphia took advantage, methodically marching down the field. This time, Matt Mengel knocked through the field goal, and the Stars took a 20-17 lead.
The woes continued for Michigan in the quarter, as Shea Patterson was intercepted by Channing Stribling again. While Patterson showed signs of life throughout the game, his poor decisions kept Michigan behind the eight ball.
Philadelphia took advantage, and caught a break as a Tino Ellis pick six was overturned after seeing that he did not secure the catch. Matt Mengel successfully kicked another field goal, and Philadelphia led 23-17 heading into the final twelve minutes.
To start the fourth period, Michigan put together a perfect drive, despite some of the oddities they faced. Patterson scrambled for the first on a long third down – and then a few plays later, completed a pass to Joe Walker on fourth and goal. A two point conversion gave the Panthers a 25-23 lead with under nine minutes to play.
Philadelphia caught a huge break, however. After having to punt the ball, Walker muffed the fair catch, and the Stars recovered deep in Michigan territory. Philadelphia capitalized, regaining the lead on a Matt Mengel field goal. With a few minutes left, the Stars led 26-25.
Michigan did an excellent job on their ensuing drive, slowly but surely pushing the ball down the field. They had the game in control, with possession deep inside Stars’ territory as the clock wound down.
"I just don't have enough to overturn this. I'm going to leave this as a catch."
Well, with first and goal from the four yard line, you’d think that Michigan had it in the bag. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Michigan’s kicker, Michael Carrizosa, missed the game winning 21 yard field goal off the upright as time expired – handing Philadelphia the victory.
Week four is off to an excellent start in the USFL, as Michigan vs. Philadelphia turned out to be an incredible Friday night showdown.
As expected, Michigan ran the ball quite well, and it’s what kept them in the game. While Patterson struggled, he did enough down the stretch to give the Panthers a shot. Meanwhile, Case Cookus looked excellent in his starting USFL debut, throwing for almost 200 yards and two touchdowns.
If Michigan had a kicker, they likely would have won the game. But, luck was on Philadelphia’s side tonight, and they came away with a clutch week four victory.
I simply would not have trusted my struggling kicker in that situation. I would’ve simply scored a touchdown. Jeff.