Jordan Ta’amu and the Bandits will look to continue their momentum to another win. The south division is close and, every victory matters in the second half of the season as we approach the playoffs.
Bryan Scott is still out for the Stars, so we’ll see Case Cookus come in for another start. Cookus came out hot in his first showing, but didn’t have enough steam to stomp out the undefeated Birmingham Stallions in week 5. This could be his tallest task of the season, but if he can pull it out, Philadelphia will be looking in good shape to grab the #2 spot in the north.
We also saw the return of the USFL drones this weekend, marking the first time we’ve seen them since week 3.
Case Cookus ended the drive by going long, but his receiver could not bring it in; forcing them to punt it away quick.
Tampa Bay would now have their possession of the afternoon, with Jordan Ta’amu coming in behind the ball. It was a quick drive, but not a good one for the Bandits. For the first time in two weeks, Ta’amu was picked off. The Stars were now within 20 of the end-zone.
Cookus now had a chance to redeem himself for his last drive, and was in good position to do so. It didn’t take long, just a few plays before he made went for it. Cookus targeted Bug Howard in the end-zone for the first touchdown of the afternoon. The extra-point gave them an early 7-0 lead with 10:31 left in the first quarter.
Tampa Bay’s offense came back on the field, but it was more of the same. Ta’amu failed to find any rhythm on drive, ultimately punting it back to Philly fast.
The Stars had a chance to add to their lead, but other than a nice pass to Bug Howards the drive fizzled away fast.
After a long punt, Jordan Ta’amu would start the drive from their own 4-yard line. Still, the offense couldn’t get anything meaningful going. This brought the game to the end of the first quarter with Tampa Bay stuck on 4th down.
The Stars received the punt to start the second quarter of action, and so far it’s been a mixed back on offense.
Still, they were unable to move the ball like they did on their scoring drive. This one ended with Cookus taking a big sack, knocking the wind out of them. This would also give Tampa Bay the ball and another chance to get on the board.
This Bandits defensive line is starting to get after it…😎
It almost looked as if it was going to another quick three and out, but Ta’amu found a receiver wide open to get the chains moving. Coach Haley seemed to switch things up a little here, depending more on the teams run game. This seemed to be working better for them, but the Philadelphia defense started stepping up their game.
This resulted with a huge sack and Tampa Bay being pushed back to 3rd and 23. After a missed attempt, Ta’amu was shown with a slight limp as he exited the field.
Case Cookus could not get anything moving for the Stars and after a quick set of downs, the Bandits would get the ball once again.
Jordan Ta’amu came back out, and this time with the best starting position of the afternoon. Coach Haley once again leaned on his running core, to great results. After two big runs, they were now within 30-yards of the end-zone.
Ta’amu took a big hit trying to move the chains himself, leaving them with 4-yards to go. Ultimately, Coach Haley opted to go for it and the gamble paid off.
Although they had a fresh set of downs, Ta’amu wasted no time. On the next play he found John Franklin open for the score. The extra-point tied it up with 2:12 to go before half.
The Stars would have a chance to reclaim the lead before the half, but they’d need to switch things up a bit. Cookus was definitely motivated to move the chains, even going for it on his own to get the first down and more.
Philadelphia couldn’t get the ball into scoring position, giving the Bandits the ball back with plenty of time to try and grab the lead. The Stars got lucky, as Tampa Bay botched the return, giving Philly the ball in striking distance.
The Bandits would start their drive with a minute to go and two timeouts at their disposal. It didn’t take them long to get into Philadelphia territory.
Tampa Bay was finally looking like they had the answers, moving the ball well. The drive ended with a nice connection to Cheyenne O’Grady for another Bandits touchdown. They tied things up, which led us to the half 14-14.
Tampa Bay would receive the kickoff to start the second half, giving them a chance to grab their first lead of the afternoon.
They were still inconsistent, punting away to the Stars which now had their own chance to take the lead. Cookus came out and had one of his best drives to date. He was connecting well, his running core was doing well. This lead them with less than 20-yards to go before they could reclaim the lead.
Matt Colburn almost secured the score, but got tripped up bringing them to the 3-yard line.
On the next play Cookus found Bug Howard for his second touchdown of the afternoon. After the extra-point they were back up by 7.
This gave Case Cookus great field position and a chance to take their biggest lead of the afternoon. Although they started in Tapa Bay territory, the Stars offence couldn’t get enough yards to secure more points.
It looked like Tampa Bay had converted on 3rd down, but after review left them at 4th and half a yard. Coach Haley didn’t want to risk it being so close in their own territory that they decided to punt it away.
Philadelphia would get the ball inside the 40 due to a shanked-punt, giving them great field position with 43 seconds left in the third. They wasted no time, with Matt Colburn running 33-yards for another touchdown. The extra-point extended their lead to 28-14 with little time to go in the third.
The Bandits would need to move quick if they wanted to get back into the game. All season they’ve traded wins nd losses, and maybe they’re looking to continue the trend. The team was playing like it, convincingly moving the ball near midfield. They didn’t stop there, after a few good passes they were now within 10 of another score.
Ta’amu fund Cheyenne O’Grady once more for his second touchdown of the matchup. The extra-point brings them back within 7 at 28-21 with less than 10-minutes left to go.
Time was running out for Tampa Bay, now down two possessions. Ta’amu was moving the ball well, but the clock was also chasing after them. Coach Haley had two time outs at his disposal, but he was saving them for later in the game.
Jordan Ta’amu was dead set on adding more points, and keeping their chances alive. This time he found De’Quan Hampton in the end-zone to bring them back within striking distance.
Case Cookus would hope to run as much time as possible, giving them a chance to clinch the game.
An injury stopped the clock with the Stars at 3rd and 12 with 2:55 to go, bringing one Jahar Jones out for the gamer for Philadelphia.
The team gave it to Matt Colburn again, but this time they couldn’t get any movement. Outside of field goal range, they were forced to punt it away with 2:20 to go. Philly’s defense came out big, pinning the punt at the 1-yard line.
De’quan Hampton came in clutch securing the pass from Ta’amu to give Tampa Bay some breathing room.
It looked like the Bandits were going to turn it over, but on 4th down found Rashard Davis to bring them within 10-yards of another score. There were a few close attempts, but at the end of the day they couldn’t get it done.
Philadelphia now goes even on the season, edging closer to securing the second playoff spot in the north. Tampa Bay will need to hit the drawing board again to see if they can get into a mode of winning more than one game at a time.
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