MAULED: Pittsburgh falls to New Jersey in Canton Opener
Tagged under: News
Sykotyk | April 24, 2023
On Sunday afternoon, the vagabond Pittsburgh Maulers would finally play a home game. In Ohio. The host Maulers would start competitively, but fall to the New Jersey Generals, 20-3 at Canton’s Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
The USFL returned to Canton on Sunday for the first time since staging the entire 2022 playoffs at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Now playing host to both the Pittsburgh Maulers and the New Jersey Generals.
Under the pod system the USFL pioneered in 2022, the USFL now operates out of four host cities. The most peculiar being Canton, Ohio. While Birmingham, Memphis, and Detroit all host teams identifying with their cities or states… Canton is hosting two teams from other states.
The Pittsburgh Maulers, who went 1-9 in their first season, had found a home away from home in the Buckeye State. Though they had trouble finding fans. A small but boisterous crowd of mostly black and yellow clad fans had made their way to the stadium to inaugurate the first Maulers home game since June 16, 1984.
The blustery day started with some light snowfall before turning to a cold breeze with no precipitation during the game. The two teams traded field goal attempts for the first half. New Jersey’s Nick Sciba opened with the scoring with a 34-yard field goal. The Maulers would answer with a 47-yarder of their own by Nathan Hierlihy. And that 3-3 score would survive into the lockerroom as neither team could find the endzone.
The Maulers would be guided behind the center by Trey Williams and James Morgan. Williams would finish the game with 70 yards passing on 11 of 16 throwing. While Morgan would net 54 yards on 8 of 14 throwing with one pick. On the ground, Madre London would lead the team with 38 yards on ten attempts. Gary, Williams, and Hennie would add on 19, 13, and 6 yards respectively. Mengul would record zero on one rush while Morgan would net -6 on 3 attempts.
In the second half, Hierlihy would miss another 47 yard attempt early in the third. While Sciba would nail his 47 yard attempt four and a half minutes later. Pittsburgh would try to answer with yet another field goal, but the snap was scuttled and Hierlihy would have to corral it himself to avoid the defensive recovery and return attempt. Through 45 minutes of play, the scoreboard would only show 9 points.
And then New Jersey came alive. The Generals would take advantage of that miscue for their first endzone trip of the day. Quarterback Dakota Prukop would complete three passes on the ensuing drive. The final being a 13 yard catch and run by Cam Echols-Lupor, who dove into the endzone for six. On the drive, Kingston Davis would rush 4 times for 18 yards and Marcus Green would carry the rock once for 4 yards. Sciba would tack on the extra point for the first breathing room of the game. A 13-3 lead in the early fourth quarter.
Pittsburgh’s next drive would also end with a fumble. A second down pass attempt was ruled incomplete initally. But on review, was ruled to be a backwards lateral. Recovered at the 1 yard line but was unable to advance the recovery for six. However, Darius Victor would pound it on the next play for six. Sciba would convert the PAT, and the New Jersey Generals would sit comfortably atop the Maulers, 20-3 with 9:58 remaining.
The final two possessions also ended poorly for the host Maulers. An interception on third down ended the ensuing drive. After forcing a punt, the Generals’ Tyshun Render would sack Morgan, forcing the fumble, while one of the best names in sports, Hercules Mata’afa, would recover the pigskin to secure the game.
MICHIGAN PANTHERS 24, PHILADELPHIA STARS 10
In the nightcap in Canton, the Michigan Panthers capitalized on two key Stars turnovers to secure a 24-10 win. Tied at 10-10 in the second half, Michigan’s Reggie Corbin scored two touchdowns. One from 4 yards out, and another sideline scamper for 52 yards. Late in the game, Philadelphia’s Diondre Overton fumble was recovered by Michigan. With 1:01 left, QB Case Cookus fumbled at the Michigan 14 yard line. Allowing the Panthers to run out the clock and win, 24-10 over Philadelphia. Cookus would finish with 283 yards passing with two interceptions and no touchdowns. Amani Dennis would intercept two Josh Love passes for the Stars’ defense.
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