Stallions advance to a 28-24 win over the Generals in thrilling USFL opener

The first USFL game had just about everything, including a game-winning touchdown in the last minute. The result, courtesy of Stallions quarterback J’Mar Smith, gave Birmingham Stallion a 28-24 win, from behind over the New Jersey Generals.

The two teams combined to score 24 points in the fourth quarter, with Smith’s score at 2 yards with 29 seconds remaining. Smith’s game score moments after the Generals took Nick Rose’s 47-yard goal ahead with 1:54 left. Smith then led the Stallions for an award-winning 59-yard run while scoring the first win of the USFL’s 2022 season. The Generals lost despite having a 222 yard rush that included 98 yards and a point quarterback from DeAndre Johnson.

Saturday’s game started with great fanfare, as quarterback General Luis Perez hit Randy Satterfield for a 48-yard gain in the first game of the melee. The trip ended with Satterfield touching the drop for 3 yards despite being snagged by one of the stallions’ defenders.

The Stallions responded with a big play of their own, a 35-yard touchdown pass from Alex McGough to Osirus Mitchell in less than four minutes into the game. New Jersey regained the lead by taking advantage of Shalom Lawani’s safety interception at the start of the second quarter. Facing a third and 7th from the 13-yard line from Stallions, Perez ran to his right before hitting a tight end Brydon Bowman in the finish zone for a green-light score.

Led by Johnson and back-to-back Trey Williams, the Generals put in 12 games to start the second half that ended with Rose—who missed a 47-yard field goal attempt in the final game of the first half—losing a 23.-field goal attempt. Stallions responded with a nine-distance sprint, 80 yards interspersed with CJ Marable 3-yards, and a game peg. Back-to-back Smith-to-Mitchell completion for a combined 44 yards makes up the score.

Both teams scored touches to start the fourth quarter. Johnson gave the Generals the lead at 10 yards, only to make Stallions respond less than four minutes later when Smith found Cary Angeline a tight end with a score of 28 yards. Rose then gave the Generals a 24-21 lead before Smith executed a two-minute drill to win the game.

Here’s a full breakdown of what happened Saturday night in Birmingham.

Why did the stallions win

Birmingham’s offensive record touchdown on its last three possessions. Most of the damage was caused by Smith, who started in the second half in place of McGoough, who missed out on injury. After going 0 of 4 in the first half, Smith completed 11 of 17 passes for 156 yards in the second half. The Stallions also received a big game from Mitchell, who finished the game with 96 yards in five receptions.

Birmingham’s defense also came with some timely pauses. The Generals were threatening to add to their lead just before halftime when linebacker Scooby Wright forced a fumble over Perez who was captured by Nate Holly. With a draw late in the fourth quarter, the Stallions defense forced the Generals to settle for a field goal after JoJo Tillery parried Johnson two yards from the first loss in third and 10th place. He then forced the Birmingham defense to make three incomplete passes in the last three matches of the match.

Why did the generals lose?

Two missed field goals certainly didn’t help the generals, who commanded most of the match. As Rose made his third attempt, Generals coach Mike Riley may have guessed his decision not to continue the attempt less than two minutes before success given how well his offensive tackled football management. The Generals may also have strayed too far from their passing game, as Perez attempted only three passes in the second half after going 12 of 16 for 142 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.

The New Jersey defense, which turned off the lights in the first half, simply had no answer for Smith, who led the Birmingham attack by scoring 80, 67 and 59 yards in the second half.

turning point

The Generals were in control of the match after forcing the Stallions to start the second half. The New Jersey then drove 75 yards and were in a position to consolidate their lead before Rose missed his second field goal in as many trips. The Stallions’ attack seemed to wake up next, as Birmingham then proceeded to run for 80 yards while leveling the score in the final clip of the game.

play the game

Satterfield’s catch is worth mentioning, but playing the game belongs to Smith, who wrapped up the great second half by scoring the winning goal.

What’s Next

The Generals will face the Michigan Panthers next Saturday night. The Stallions will face the Houston gambling side next Sunday night.

Sunday will see a three-headed display of USFL events beginning with a gambling Panthers face off at noon. The New Orleans Breakers will face the stars at 4 p.m., while the USFL’s opening weekend will begin with a prime-time game between Tampa Bay Bandits and the Pittsburgh Mullers.