USFL Week 5 Recap: At season’s halfway point, Stallions stay unbeaten, Maulers win 1st on last play

By Jordan Meneo

Week 5 marked the midway point in the United States Football League season, and it was a dramatic one. In case you missed it, we’ll recap everything below.

Tampa Bay Bandits 27 – Michigan Panthers 20

Michigan Panthers QB Shea Patterson #2, getting hauled down by Tampa Bay defense Photo: Associated Press

Kicking off Week 5, we got a slugfest. The 2-2 Bandits and the 1-3 Panthers exchanged blow after blow Friday.

In the first half, every point that was scored was immediately answered by the opposition. The two went into halftime tied at 13. Coming out of the half, the Bandits struck first thanks to an impressive 43-yard catch and run touchdown by John Franklin lll. The Panthers were able to answer in the fourth with an 87-yard touchdown drive. It seemed the scoring wouldn’t end as the Bandits rushed in for a touchdown to reclaim the lead.

Shea Patterson and the Panthers offense trotted on the field to answer once again. Michigan was marching down the field after converting a game-saving 4th and 1. That was until Cameron Scarlett fumbled on a 6-yard pass giving the bandits the ball, and eventually the game.

The Bandits improve to 3-2 as the Panthers fall to 1-4. Despite the loss, the Panthers played well as they outmatched the Bandits in every category including passing yards, rushing yards, and time of possession. The biggest takeaway from this game however is the performance of #1 overall pick Shea Patterson. Patterson had a coming-out party as he threw for 304 yards on 24 completions for 37 passes. He threw one touchdown and an interception and also led the team in rushing with 46 yards on the ground providing some hope for the team.

New Jersey Generals 27 – New Orleans Breakers 13

Shalom Luani, #25 of New Jersey Generals, celebrates after getting an interception against New Orleans Breakers, May 14, 2022. Photo: Emilee Chinn/USFL/Getty Images

Saturday, we saw another heartbreaker. The two best teams in the league took the field as the 3-1 Generals faced the 3-1 Breakers.

The game looked like it would live up to the hype as on the opening drive the Breakers converted a fake punt on a 4th and 3 as linebacker Jerod Fernandez Bolted past defenders for 43 yards. The drive ended with a New Orleans field goal giving them a 3-0 lead. This would be the only lead in the game for the Breakers. The Generals then went on to score three touchdowns as the two went into halftime with the Generals up 17-10.

New Orleans came out of the half hot with a touchdown pass from Kyle Sloter to Johnnie Dixon to tie it up. New Jersey answered with a touchdown drive of their own to reclaim the lead. After a brief lightning delay and quick game of tic tac toe between team socials, the game resumed. As if the script was taken from Friday’s game, the Breakers drove to the red zone until Sloter threw a costly interception to kill the momentum.

A Generals field goal would wash the Breakers away as the Generals move to 4-1 atop the North division and Breakers slip to 3-2.

Birmingham Stallions 30 – Philadelphia Stars 17

Sunday’s first game saw the undefeated juggernaut Stallions against the 2-2 Stars.

Philly came out of the gates swinging with an opening drive touchdown. Birmingham answered with a touchdown of their own. The quarter ended tied 7-7.

The Stars started the second just as they did the first as Paul Terry rushed 9 yards into the endzone as he proves he is a true superstar in this league. Philly kept the pressure on with an interception by Amani Dennis followed by a field goal. The Stallions answered with a fantastic touchdown with a 34-yard catch from the best receiver in the league in terms of yards after the catch Marlon Williams. After a Stars fumble, the Stallions had a chance to tie it up going into the half but missed a 23-yard field goal leaving the game at 17-14. It’s hard to believe the Stallion’s halftime speech was anything short of Al Pacino-esque.

Opening the second half, Birmingham scored on a 29-yard touchdown rush by CJ Marable. What the Stallions defense then proceeded to do was nothing short of greatness. After forcing two three and outs, Birmingham was able to kick a field goal. The Stallions’ Jonathan Newsome then forced a fumble. The defense then again forced a Stars punt on their next drive followed by a Stallions touchdown which sealed the second-half comeback. The victory was carried on the shoulders of the second-half shutout along with an impressive performance from J’Mar Smith who put up 203 yards with a QBR of 120.1.

Birmingham remains undefeated at 5-0 while Philadelphia falls to 2-3.

Pittsburgh Maulers 21 – Houston Gamblers 20

The final game of the week saw the Maulers end the season’s longest losing streak on the final play of the game to send the Gamblers home disappointed.

Still, on the opening drive, it seemed Pittsburgh simply did not want to win a game this season with Ramiz Ahmed missing another field goal this year. The Gamblers capitalized with a touchdown followed by a Maulers three and out. Houston was able to take advantage as Nick Vogul kicked a 45-yard field goal putting the Gamblers up 10-0. The Maulers were able to muster up two consecutive field goals as they closed out the half down 10-6.

Houston came out in the second half with a seven-minute drive that ended with Clayton Thorson taking it in himself for the touchdown to extend the lead to 17-6. Pittsburgh again was kept out of the endzone as they settled for their third field goal to narrow the lead to 17-9. Despite an interception at the start of the 4th quarter, the Maulers still failed to find momentum as their first three drives in the quarter were a three and out, interception, and another three and out.

However, Pittsburgh’s stellar fourth-quarter defense made up for it. After their interception on the opening drive of the quarter, the defense’s next three appearances ended in a two three and outs and a fumble. The fumble allowed the Maulers to get their first touchdown of the day to close the gap to 17-15. After a Houston field goal, Pittsburgh marched down to the redzone. With four seconds left, Vad Lee threw a nine-yard bullet to Bailey Gaither for the touchdown as the clock hit zeros.

The Maulers and Gamblers both sit at 1-4 in their respective divisions.

A current student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Jordan grew up playing football. He began writing in high school after creating his own website and hopes to continue his pursuit for a career in sports media.