Stallions fall to Breakers in week two

Published 10:39 am Monday, May 1, 2023

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The reigning USFL Champion Birmingham Stallions (2-1) suffered their first loss since last June this weekend, dropping a frustrating 45-31 home loss to the New Orleans Breakers (3-0).

The Stallions lost despite jumping to a 7-0 lead when Deon Cain returned the opening kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown. While Birmingham was able to match New Orleans score-for-score early, momentum shifted once quarterback Alex McGough was knocked out of the game briefly. After McGough took a hard hit early in the second quarter, Birmingham was forced to punt. On Birmingham’s next drive he threw his first interception of the season. While Birmingham came within one score late in the game, New Orleans was able to pull away again.

Davion Davis (13) went over 100 yards receiving against the Breakers. (Photo by Jack Martin)

The New Orleans offense completely dominated Birmingham’s defense, which came into the game as the top rated defense in the league. New Orleans rolled up 483 yards of total offense, compared to Birmingham’s 253 yards, and won the time of possession battle 36:36 compared to the Stallions’ 23:24.

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Breakers quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, a Canadian Football League veteran, shredded the Stallion secondary, completing 20-of-28 pass attempts for 283 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Running back Wes Hills also gashed the Birmingham defense for 191 yards and three touchdowns on 34 carries.

“We got run through today,” Birmingham Coach Skip Holtz said after the loss. “I mean they lined up and they beat us.”

The Stallions, still reeling from a rash of injuries, could once again never get the running game going. Birmingham amassed just 46 yards on the ground and averaged 3.3 yards per attempt. The running game was an advance for the Stallions in 2022 but the reigning champs have rushed for under 100 yards in two of the first three games in 2023. Quarterback Alex McGough completed 17-of-26 passes for 238 yards, two touchdowns and his first interception of the season. Davion Davis led the Stallion offense with five catches for 123 yards and one touchdown, while Cain returned eight kickoffs for 236 yards and one touchdown.

On defense both Tyree Robinson and Nate Holley tallied 10 tackles each for the Stallions. Rashad Smith earned seven tackles and two tackles-for-loss, while Christian McFarland earned eight tackles. Birmingham also netted zero sacks for the first time this season.

Former Troy standouts Kirk Kelley and Steven Rowzee play for the Breakers. (Photo by Josh Boutwell)

While Birmingham is Alabama’s lone professional football team, the Breakers feature a pair of former Troy standouts. Both Kirk Kelley and Steven Rowzee – former All-Sun Belt players – play on the Breakers offensive line.

This weekend, the Stallions will hit the road for the first time this season and for the first time since the rebirth of the USFL. Birmingham faces off against the Pittsburgh Maulers at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, at 6:30 p.m. on May 7 in a game that will air on FS1.