Tampa Bay Bandits Overcome Houston Gamblers to Wrap Up Week 8

Tampa Bay Bandits Overcome Houston Gamblers to Wrap Up Week 8

Rounding out the USFL action this weekend is the Houston Gamblers battling the Tampa Bay Bandits. Houston is eliminated from the post season, but Tampa Bay is fighting to stay in it.

Coach Sumlin and company haven’t been on the winning side since the first week, and could look to play spoiler this afternoon. With Clayton Thorson out due to injury, Kenji Bahar will get his first start for the franchise today.

On the other side of the field, Tampa Bay will look for a win, which would tie them up with the New Orleans Breakers. If they pull it out, they’ll go on to face th Breakers next week to battle for that second spot in the south; ultimately leaving it up to the final week of regulation.

1st Quarter

Jordan Ta’amu and the Tapa Bay Bandits would take possession to start things out, and they’d look to break the trend. On the first play of the game, Ta’amu went long, but his receiver dropped the ball at the last second to go incomplete.

They tempered their plays from there, and ultimately moved the chains early to bring them to mid-field. But, Houston had other plans. Their defense stepped up their game, stopping them from moving the ball any further. The Bandits had no choice but to punt it away.

Kenji Bahar would now get his first time with the ball, and his first start of the season for Houston.

There was a moment where it looked like a tipped passed resulted in an interception, but the Bandits had committed the foul before the play.Β  This would give the Gambler a fresh set of downs and a chance to slow things down.

Tyler Simmons showcased his skills with a nice run to move the Gamblers into enemy territory. Tampa Bay’s defense pushed them back, and on 3rd & 18 Bahar’s receiver could secure enough yards. Coach Sumlin brough out Nick Vogel to go for the 55-yard field goal attempt, but ultimately went wide keeping it 0-0.

A lot of time has goneΒ  by in the first quarter and it’s still scoreless. Clearly, this is not the start both teams were hoping for. Jordan Ta’amu came back out looking to find his rhythm.

The offense was moving a lot better on this drive. John Franklin had a crucial rush that brought the Bandits within 20-yards of their first points. The next play brough them within five. Houston’s defense wasn’t going to take it laying down, picking up the pace to push them back on the next three plays.

Coach Haley was forced to bring out his kicking unit in to attempt the field goal. Tyler Rausa came out and did his team right, knocking it in from 36-yards out to get them on the board.

2nd Quarter

With Houston’s offense back on the field, they were focusing on their running game to see if that could make a difference.

Although they found themselves at midfield, they couldn’t get any further than that. On third and short, the Bandits defense stuffed them. Coach Sumlin decided to go for it on fourth down, only to get shut down once more.

Tampa Bay’s offense will retake the field with a chance to extend their slim lead. Ta’amu was looking solid on this drive, moving the ball efficiently.

Rashard Davis came in clutch, bringing Tampa Bay into enemy territory on a solid run.

Ta’amu continued to make plays keeping the drive moving.

Juwan Washington was able to bring them to he one, now with a great opportunity to grab their first touchdown. On the next play they want back to Washington, but the Houston defense pushed him back.

On third and long, Ta’amu found Derrick Dillion who found pressure but spun it into the end-zone. The extra-point put them up 10-0 with 4:46 left in the first half.

Houston had plenty of time to get back into this before heading to the locker room for the half. The team had a few good plays, but ultimately ended the drive on a pick. Tampa Bay now had the ball back with 3:12 remaining in the second quarter.

Juwan Franklin grabbed the first pass to bring them within 20-yards of the end-zone.

They had a few close looks into the end-zone, but none of them could connect. Tyler Rausa came back out for Tampa Bay, this time securing three form 33-yards out to put them up 13-0.

Bahar would get the back back for Houston with only 1:22 left in the half to execute.

The Gamblers still couldn’t get anything moving. They were beat up, pushed back and forced to punt away the ball with 49-seconds on the clock.\

Ta’amu didn’t fare much better, quickly going three and out. Chris Odom continued showing his dominance for Houston, sacking Ta’amu to put them at fourth down.

Houston ran a few plays, but they couldn’t get anywhere close to enough yards to get into scoring position.

Each week this season the Gamblers have lead at the half only to blow the lead other than the first week. They’ll go into the locker room trailing this week, so we’ll see if this could be their winning strategy.

3rd Quarter

Houston would get possession to start the second half. If they wanted a chance to pull this game out, they’d need to start to get their offense moving.

Bahar put in a solid effort, but Tampa Bay’s defense was too much to overcome. If there was any positive, it was that Nick Vogel was able to get the Gamblers on the board with a 44-yard field goal.

Coach Sumlin had the team go for a surprise onside kick, and Nick Vogel came in clutch again executing the kick and recovering the ball.

Although they had possession, they couldn’t do much with it. After three quick plays, the kicking unit was back out to punt it away.

Ta’amu was back on the field, and had an opportunity to extend heir lead and erase Houston’s points.

It looked as if Chris Odom had stripped the ball an forced another turnover, but after review the Bandits runner had the knee down.

Rashard Davis continued to shine, this time on a 13-yard reception to move the chains and keep the drive moving. That wasn’t all though, he moved the markers a few times during this drive.

With Tampa Bay now at 3rd down and long after a bad holding call, Ta’amu went for one last attempt before sending in the kicking unit.

Tyler Rausa came out and hit the uprights from 47-yards out, keeping the score 10-3 in the Bandits favor.

Houston would receive possession again and would ultimately end the third quarter on third and long.

4th Quarter

The Gamblers still had a chance to pull this out, but they had 16-yards to go if they wanted to do it on this drive. Bahar connected with his receiver, but they could not find enough yards to keep going.

The Bandits offense would take over, and wit a touchdown they could get closer to sealing the deal.

Coach Haley went back to his running game on this drive. If they could score and run some time down, they would have a good chance to put the final nail in the coffin.

BJ Edmonds continued to prove himself today, running the ball well on multiple occasions. Houston defense is a powerhouse, and they were able to come in clutch forcing a fumble. Houston now would regain possession, but they would need their offense to step it up if they wanted to capitalize.

Again, Houston’s defense put them in a great position, but they couldn’t do anything with it. After a quick three and out they were forced to punt it away to Tampa Bay.

With 8:55 left in the matchup Jordan Ta’amu would have another chance to lead his team on the field. Houston defense pinned the Bandits against the goal line, but not for long. Ta’amu had a nice run to give them some breathing room, but it wasn’t enough for a first down. They couldn’t convert on third, again put in a position to punt it back.

Between a great punt and a Gamblers holding call, Kenji Bahar finds himself deep in his own territory. It just wasn’t their day, they tried to no avail. The Bandits would get the ball back with a little over 5-minutes left in the matchup.

Unfortunately, they were still struggling on offense as well. The Gamblers defense shined with another pick, but the offense would need to execute.

Coach Sumlin did try to change things upΒ  a bit on this drive. He went for a double-pass, but they could get it to their receiver. Just shy of mid-field, Sumlin decided they were now in a position where they had to go for it on fourth down. Bahar completes, but they’d come up a yard short.

Coach Haley pushed the running plays to keep the clock running so they could escape with a win. They couldn’t add points, but they did bring the clock under 2-minutes.

Houston would need to score twice if they wanted to come out with a win, so they’d need to move fast.

They had some positive moments, hustling the entire time. When presented with 4th & 6, Kenji Bahar found Whaley to squeeze in a first down to continue the drive. At this point they had no times outs, so ball management was a huge factor.

With 8-seconds to go they had to get one more yard to move the chains. Bahar was able to run it enough, but the clock ran out ending out the game. NoΒ  team would score in the fourth quarter, but this wraps up week 8 in the USFL.

Houston continues to struggle, this time in the first and second half. They just couldn’t seem to find their rhythm today and go on to continue their losing streak.

The Tampa Bay Bandits may have won, but they should have beat the Gamblers by much more. They’re still in the playoff hunt and it could come down to next week when they take on the New Orleans Breakers. Whoever wins out between the two will head to Canton, Oh to take on to (so far) undefeated Birmingham Stallions.

What was your favorite USFL matchup of week 8? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below or join the conversation on Discord.