Late field goal lifts Stallions over Defenders

Published 9:37 am Monday, April 22, 2024

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The reigning USFL Champion Birmingham Stallions (4-0) remained undefeated after a late field goal lifted them to a 20-18 win over the DC Defenders (2-2) on Saturday.

Birmingham is firmly in first place of the USFL Conference in the inaugural season of the United Football League, while the St. Louis Battlehawks and San Antonio Brahmas sit tied for first in the XFL Conference.

Birmingham managed to earn a win over the Defenders despite struggling with turnovers early in the game and battling a wet, sloppy field and a game delay. DC took an early lead with a 9-yard touchdown pass from former Ole Miss quarterback Jordan Ta’amu to Chris Rowland in the first quarter to put the Defenders up 6-0.

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Birmingham twice in the first quarter drove inside the DC 5-yard line but both times lost the football due to a fumble. Then, the Stallions had a blocked punt that put the Defenders in Stallion territory. The stingy Birmingham defense, however, turned DC back on a fourth down stop going into the second quarter.

Birmingham finally got on the scoreboard when Matt Corrall threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Amari Rodgers to the tie the score 6-6 after a failed PAT. The Stallion special teams then earned a safety when a snap sailed over the Defender punter’s head into the end zone to put the champs up 8-6.

Lightning forced the two teams into the locker room for more than an hour with less than two minutes remaining in the first half. When play resumed, Birmingham was able to take an 11-6 lead into halftime on a 46-yard field goal from Ramiz Ahmed, who was signed just this past week after Birmingham’s starting kicker went down with an injury.

Ahmed followed up with a 32-yard field goal to open the second half, giving the Stallions a 14-6 lead.

DC responded with a 45-yard touchdown pass from Ta’amu to Kelvin Harmon with 53 seconds left in the third quarter to cut the Stallion lead to 14-12 after a failed PAT. Early in the fourth quarter, DC retook the lead 15-14 on a 23-yard field goal.

Birmingham answered with a 27-yard field goal from Ahmed with 3:26 left but the Defenders marched right down the field and converted a 39-yard field goal with just 1:04 left to give DC an 18-17 lead.

Corral then drove the Stallions into Defenders territory and Ahmed drilled 46-yard field goal with just four seconds remaining to give the Stallions the eventual 20-18 win.

Birmingham netted 356 yards of offense, while DC tallied 251 total yards. Corral completed 19-of-29 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 51 yards on seven carries. Ricky Person Jr. rushed for 57 yards on 11 carries, while Rodgers caught four passes for 82 yards and a score. Jace Sternberger caught two passes for 50 yards.

Khahva Tezino led the Birmingham defense with 10 tackles and two tackles-for-loss.

Birmingham is back on the road next Saturday, April 27, for a matchup with the Houston Roughnecks at 6 p.m. on FOX.