Stallions topple Stars, remain undefeated

The Birmingham Stallions (5-0) are still the only team left unbeaten in the United States Football League after besting the Philadelphia Stars (2-3) by a score of 30-17 on Sunday.

Despite trailing for much of the first half, Birmingham came back to dominate the second half and secure the win. Philadelphia took an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 2-yard touchdown run but Birmingham answered when Alex McGough threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Michael Dereus to tie the score late in the first quarter.

As Birmingham’s offense began to bog down, the Stars took control with a 9-yard touchdown run to go up 14-7. McGough then threw an interception on the Stallions’ next drive, allowing the Stars to extend the lead to 17-7 on a 49-yard field with 7:31 left in the first half.

J’Mar Smith then entered the game at quarterback for Birmingham and heaved a 38-yard touchdown pass to Mobile native Marlon Williams with just under five minutes remaining in the half to cut the Stars lead to 17-14.

Birmingham’s Chauncy Haney then recovered a Philadelphia fumble with 2:00 left and Smith marched the Stallion offense into the Stars red-zone. Birmingham kicker Brandon Aubrey missed a chip shot field goal as time expired to preserve Philadelphia’s 17-14 lead at halftime, however.

The Stallions got right back to work in the second half, though, as CJ Marable galloped 29 yards for a touchdown run to give Birmingham its first lead of the game 21-17 with 11:43 left in the third quarter. Aubrey booted a 45-yard field goal with just 28 seconds left in the third quarter to extend the Stallion lead to 24-17.

With just over five minutes remaining, the Stallions turned to former Alabama Crimson Tide standout Bo Scarbrough and a modified “wish bone” type of offense as the Stallions pounded on the Stars defense. The relentless rush attack led Birmingham right down the field and Smith capped off the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run with 47 seconds left to seal the 30-17 win. Aubrey missed the PAT.

Smith completed 17-of-22 pass attempts for 203 yard and a touchdown along with the rushing touchdown. McGough completed just 4-of-11 passes for 50 yards, one touchdown and an interception before leaving the game.

Marable led the Birmingham ground game with 114 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, while Scarbrough rushed for 25 yards on seven carries in his Birmingham debut. Williams caught five passes for 74 yards and a touchdown, while former Mississippi State standout Osirus Mitchell caught four passes for 58 yards.

Despite defensive leader Scooby Wright III missing the game due to a leg injury, the Stallion defense forced two turnovers and gave up just 253 yards of total offense. DeMarquis Gates led the Birmingham defense with four tackles, two tackles-for-loss and 1.5 sacks.

Birmingham will match up with the Michigan Panthers this Saturday, May 21, for a 6:30 p.m. showdown to be televised nationally on NBC