USFL Championship Game: Recap and Review

Written and Edited by Seth Brown
July 1st, 2023

Stallions Go Back-to-Back, Rolling over the Leagues Number One Defense in the Maulers to Earn Second Straight Title,  28-12

The North and South Champions, the Pittsburgh Maulers and Birmingham Stallions, met tonight to fight it out on the Gridiron to determine who deserves to take home the 2023 USFL Championship. Pittsburgh fought a hard overtime game against the Michigan Panthers last week, as Michigan forced OT after driving from the shadows of their endzone to put up a field goal as time expired. The Maulers would survive the OT shootout 31-27, winning the North and advancing to the title game in a classic. Birmingham, however, advanced to the title game without nearly the tension. Steamrolling their division rival Breakers 47-22, the game got as far apart as a 34-point game, 47-13. Birmingham also entered this year as the defending champions, looking to repeat, while Pittsburgh had entered this season coming off of a 1 win season, the worst team in the league. Despite the absurd differences between these two squads, they met tonight in the Title Game. Pittsburgh would strike first, putting up a field goal on their first drive that lasted 15 plays and 9 whole minutes. This 3-0 lead would last all the way into the second quarter, when Alex McGough hit stud receiver Davion Davis on a 42-yard touchdown strike to take the 7-3 lead for the Stallions. Blewitt of the Maulers would bring the score within 1 as he put up a 36-yard field goal, keeping the Maulers in reach of the defending champions 7-6. Alex McGough would show why he is the league MVP, driving down the field and hitting Deon Cain in the endzone to take a 14-6 lead. Despite the Stallions stopping the Maulers on 3rd down before the half, a brutal taunting call would allow Pittsburgh to put up another field goal as time expired, bringing the game within 5, with a 14-9 Birmingham lead entering the half. 

Birmingham came out of halftime with a statement to make: Run the Damn Ball. Birmingham ran run after run after run, all going for positive yards with many going for double digit yardage. After running it all the way to the redzone and forcing the Pittsburgh defense to respect the run, McGough would fade a ball out to Deon Cain for the touchdown strike to take a double digit lead on the Maulers, 21-9. Chris Blewitt answers back for Pittsburgh however, drilling a deep field goal to bring the score to a 21-12 Birmingham lead, which is a 1-score game in the USFL due to the 3 point conversion from the 10 yard line. With Birmingham in the redzone, Pittsburgh was able to get pressure, driving McGough backwards to try and make some of his classic magic happen. Instead, McGough coughed up the ball, allowing Pittsburgh to return it within Stallions territory. Although Pittsburgh had returned the fumble for a score, an illegal forward handoff during the return brought it back. Pittsburgh would then take multiple lost yards, giving Blewitt a difficult kick that ended up missed to the left, leaving the score at 12-21 with a Stallions lead early in the fourth quarter. After bringing up a long fourth down, Pittsburgh decided to go for it. Despite Troy Williams delivering a great throw to Bailey Gaither, Gaither never looked back, letting the ball hit the turf and turning the ball over on downs inside Pitt territory, down 12-21. After the turnover on downs, McGough hits Deon Cain 40 yards downfield in triple coverage for the fourth touchdown of the game to extend the Birmingham lead to 28-12, slamming the door on Pittsburgh after the fourth down mistake. What may be all too late, Troy Williams and the Maulers attempt another fourth down at midfield, although this time Williams converts with his legs, taking it inside Birmingham territory to keep the Pittsburgh drive alive. Needing to score on the drive to keep the Maulers alive, Williams would fumble the ball away to the Stallions defense. 

The Stallions would run the clock out, icing the game with a final score of 28-12, with the #1 offense in the Stallions dominating the #1 defense in the Maulers and cementing the Stallions as a force in spring football, winning back to back championships and having a 21-3 record across those two seasons. Deon Cain would win Championship MVP, posting 3 receiving touchdowns and over 150 receiving yards.