Stallions overcome rash of injuries to remain undefeated

Published 11:33 am Monday, April 24, 2023

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Despite a laundry list of injuries following week one, the reigning USFL Champion Birmingham Stallions (2-0) remain undefeated after thumping the Memphis Showboats (0-2) by a score of 42-2 on April 22.

Following week one, a number of Birmingham players left with injuries, some season-ending. Starting quarterback J’Mar Smith was placed on injury reserve after having surgery on his non-throwing hand, while receiver Marlon Williams was also placed on IR after suffering a torn Achilles tendon. Former Alabama standout Bo Scarbrough was also placed on IR with a knee injury but it’s unknown if that will be season ending. Players placed on IR cannot return to the active roster for at least five weeks. Starting linebacker Scooby Wright III and defensive back JoJo Tillery also missed Saturday’s contest with injuries.

Despite all that, Saturday’s game against Memphis was never in doubt. The Stallions led 21-0 at halftime and continued to pour it on in the second half.

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Birmingham capped off a 7-play, 87-yard drive to open the game with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Alex McGough to Davion Davis to put the Stallions up 7-0 early. After the Birmingham defense forced another three-and-out, the Stallion offense went back to work on an 11-play, 81-yard scoring drive. This time, new running back Zaquandre White capped off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to put the Stallions up 14-0.

In the second quarter, McGough found Jace Sternberger for a 25-yard touchdown pass to take a 21-0 lead. Memphis finished off the half with a turnover as TJ Carter intercepted Memphis quarterback Brady White.

The game got completely out of hand as the second half began. Birmingham stretched the lead to 28-0 when White scampered on an electrifying 35-yard touchdown run that saw the South Carolina running back hurdle a pair of Showboat defenders.

Stallion linebacker Rashad Smith sacked Willis on the next Memphis drive, forcing a fumble and Willie Yarbary covered it up. Birmingham extended the lead to 35-0 on a 4-yard scoring pass from McGough to former LSU tight end Thaddeus Moss, the son of legendary NFL receiver Randy Moss.

Memphis’ only points of the game came at the end of third quarter when McGough was sacked in the end-zone. After Memphis’ first drive of the fourth quarter ended in a turnover on downs, deep in Birmingham territory, the Stallions proceeded to march on a 15-play, 95-yard drive that ate up nearly nine minutes of game time. McGough finished off the game with a 2-yard touchdown pass to former UAB receiver Myron Mitchell to make the final score 42-2.

In total, Birmingham rolled up 463 yards of offense and the Stallion defense gave up just 183 yards of offense. McGough had a career day, completing 21-of-28 passes for 301 yards and four touchdowns along with six carries for 32 yards. Sternberger caught five passes for 127 yards and a score, while Davis caught four passes for 47 yards and one touchdown and UAB receiver Austin Watkins caught three passes for 42 yards.

After the Stallion running game struggled in week one, Birmingham put up 172 yards on the ground against Memphis. White led the way with 72 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries, while CJ Marable rushed for 68 yards on 16 carries.

The Stallion defense was led by Jordan Thompson with six tackles and one tackle-for-loss, while Nate Holley earned six tackles and Lorenzo Burns recorded six tackles, as well. Smith also earned five tackles, three tackles-for-loss and two sacks.

In other week two games, the New Orleans Breakers (2-0) overcame the Houston Gamblers (0-2) by a score of 38-31, while the New Jersey Generals (1-1) defeated the Pittsburgh Maulers (0-2) by a score of 20-3 and the Michigan Panthers (2-0) remain undefeated with a 24-10 win over the Philadelphia Stars (1-1).

Birmingham will look to remain undefeated this weekend as the Stallions host the New Orleans Breakers on April 29 at 11:30 a.m. in a game that will air on USA Network.