Defending Champions Birmingham Kick off USFL Title Defense with Impressive Victory
Today marked the start of the second season of the USFL and featured a battle of two of last year’s heavyweights. Last year’s champions, the Birmingham Stallions, and the New Jersey Generals started off against each other in what felt like a battle of titans. New Jersey very clearly misses former USFL MVP KaVontae Turpin and current renegades quarterback Luis Perez. Birmingham’s stellar defense would shut out the generals in the second half to win 27-10.
Alex McGough and J’marr Smith would be the Birmingham players in this game. Jmarr Smith would go 10 of 15 for 168 with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. McGough would come on after Jmarr Smith was injured, and go for 70 yards passing and a touchdown, adding another 51 yards and a touchdown.
The First Half
New Jersey would start the game and march as far as Birmingham 46. Braedan Bowman fumbles after a reception from De’Andre Jordan. Birmingham safety Nick Holley forced the fumble, and Nate Brooks would come up with the recovery. On the very next play, J’Mar Smith would find Austin Watkins from 61 yards out to take the lead 7-0. After a series of punts, the first quarter would end 7-0 Stallions.
Early in the second, New Jersey would tie up the score. Dakota Prukop would lead a drive, ending with Prukop taking it in himself from 2 yards out. On the next drive, Birmingham would drive down to the Generals 1 yard line. A J’marr Smith fumble on 3rd and 1 would stall the drive, resulting in a Brandon Audrey 23-yard field goal.
On the next possession, New Jersey would drive 62 yards most of it on the ground, and be turned away. On 4th and goal from the one, the stallion’s defense would keep Darius Victor out of the endzone, forcing a turnover on downs. Two plays later, J’mmar Smith would throw an interception to Generals corner D.J. Daniels. Birmingham’s defense would defend the short field, forcing a field goal by Nick Scriba from 25 yards out to tie the game.
J’Mar Smith would start the final drive of the half, but not finish it. After driving to the New Jersey 13, he would suffer an injury to his non-throwing hand, and would not return. Alex McGough would come on in relief, and his first play was a 13-yard touchdown to TE Jace Sternberger. This would take us to the half 17-10 Stallions.
The second half would be all Birmingham. After New Jersey forced a punt, Quarterback Dakota Prukop would fumble near midfield, forced by defensive end Joe Jackson, and recovered by Darrion Daniels. Two plays later Alex McGough would score on a 29-yard touchdown run. a good extra point would make it 24-10 Birmingham. After a pair of punts, New Jersey would have a 72-yard drive that would ultimately end in a turnover on downs.
Following the turnover on downs, Birmingham would go on a 12-play 59-yard drive, running 7 minutes off the clock, before a Brandon Audrey 49-yard field goal would give Birmingham our final 27-10 lead. New Jersey would have 2 more chances to cut into the lead. Ultimately, Birmingham’s defense forced two more turnovers on downs. This allowed Birmingham to get the ball back and run out the clock, securing the win.
The Stallions won this game, but both teams suffered major losses in this game. Stallions wide receiver Marlon Williams is out for the season after tearing an Achilles in the win. Late in the game, De’Morney Pierson-El would be carted off the field after suffering an apparent leg injury. The extent of J’Mar Smith’s injury remains to be seen as well. Birmingham, despite the injuries, injuries, looks to go 2-0 against Memphis next Saturday. New Jersey will be looking for their first win, traveling to Ohio to play the Pittsburgh Maulers.