Stallions rally to beat Michigan Panthers

Published 10:29 am Monday, June 3, 2024

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This weekend, the Birmingham Stallions (9-1) closed the regular season with an exciting 20-19 win over the Michigan Panthers (7-3), narrowly escaping the first losing streak in franchise history.

Birmingham was coming off a frustrating Week 9 loss and seemed out of sorts for much of the regular season finale against Michigan. Despite that, the Stallions opened the game hitting on all cylnders, capping off a 5-play drive to open the game with a 1-yard touchdown run by CJ Marable in the first quarter to go up 6-0.

Michigan then took complete control of the game. The Panthers cut the lead to 6-3 on a 39-yard field goal and then former LSU quarterback Danny Etling scored on a 23-yard run to open the second quarter to give the Panthers a 10-6 lead. The Panthers added a 46-yard scoring run from Siaosi Mariner late in the second quarter to a take a 16-6 lead into halftime.

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The typically composed Stallions seemed to lose their composure in the first half with out-of-character penalties, defensive struggles and moments of frustration that saw players throwing helmets and arguing on the sideline.

The Stallions seemed to get back on track as the second half began as Marable capped off a scoring drive with a 20-yard touchdown run. The PAT cut Michigan’s lead to 16-13. The Panthers added a 44-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 19-13.

With under three minutes remaining, Birmingham marched on a 12-yard scoring drive that quarterback Adrian Martinez capped off with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jace Sternberger. The PAT gave the Stallions the 20-19 lead. With under a minute remaining, Michigan drove back into field goal range but Jake Bates’ last-second field goal attempt sailed wide right and Birmingham held on for the win.

Going into week nine, Birmingham led the UFL in most statistical categories in both offense and defense but have struggled mightily in both areas the last past two weeks. The Stallion offense tallied just 223 yards against Michigan. The loss of defensive coordinator John Chavis – who stepped down due to health reasons – has also been felt as the Stallion defense gave up more than 300 yards – and 135 yards rushing – against the Panthers.

Against Michigan, Martinez completed 14-of-28 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown along with 41 yards on the ground. Marable rushed for 56 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries. He also caught three passes for 29 yards. Sternberger caught two passes for 53 yards and a touchdown.

Damon Lloyd led the Stallion defense with nine tackles, while Kyahva Tezino added five tackles and a pass breakup. Former NFL first round pick Taco Charlton recorded three tackles and a key sack on the last drive of the game.

The Stallions host the Panthers for a second straight week this Saturday, June 8, in the USFL Conference Championship as the UFL Playoffs begin. The game kicks off at 2 p.m. and will air nationally on ABC. In the XFL Conference Championship, former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron leads the St. Louis Battlehawks against the San Antonio Brahmas at 7 p.m. on June 9 in a game that will air on FOX. The winning teams will meat in the UFL Championship next weekend in St. Louis, MO.