An opportunistic and tight-fisted defense helped lead the Birmingham Stallions (3-0) to a 22-13 win over the New Orleans Breakers (2-1) in a battle between the only two undefeated teams in the USFL who going into the third week on Saturday night.
The two teams came into play with the two best defense and attack teams in the league and for much of the game the defense stood solid. In the fourth quarter, New Orleans held onto a 13-10 lead, but the fourth quarter has belonged to the Studs so far this season.
With 8:03 left, Birmingham’s J’Mar Smith threw a 19-yard touchdown to Victor Bolden Jr. in the back of the end zone to give the Stallions a 17-13 lead. The Stallions also converted two fourth down moves on the drive.
On the ensuing drive from New Orleans, Kyle Sloter was fired in the end zone, resulting in the first safety of the season and extending the Stallions’ lead to 19-13. New Orleans managed to get into field goal range with 4:30 left, but the 43-yard attempt was no good. Nevertheless, New Orleans got another chance with just three minutes to go. However, the stallion defense stood up once again. Sloter was intercepted by DeMarquis Gates who returned him 19 yards.
Just over a minute from time, Birmingham’s Brandon Aubrey hit a 32-yard field goal to seal the win for the Stallions. Aubrey, who never played soccer before signing with the Stallions, is a former soccer star at Notre Dame and also played in Major League Soccer.
In the first quarter, New Orleans was poised to score at Birmingham’s 1-yard line when Sloter was hit and forced to fumble, which was recovered by Gates. Birmingham came on the scoreboard first when Smith threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to former McGill-Toolen star Marlon Williams in the second quarter to give the Stallions a 7-0 lead.
Sloter cut the lead to 7-6 with just over a minute left in the first half when he threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Johnnie Dixon. The PAT was not good. Aubrey launched a 33-yard field goal when time was up in the first half to extend Birmingham’s lead to 10-6 at halftime.
New Orleans took their first lead of the game with 6:15 in the third quarter on an 11-yard touchdown pass to Dixon from Sloter to give the Breakers a 13-10 lead, leading to the wild fourth quarter.
Smith completed 15 of 38 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns with one interception and 59 yards on eight carries for Birmingham. Bolden caught six passes for 70 yards and a touchdown, while Cary Angeline caught four passes for 66 yards. Scooby Wright led Birmingham’s defense with 17 tackles and a forced fumble, while Gates had 10 total tackles, a tackle for loss, a sack, an interception and a fumble recovery.
Sloter completed 26 of 47 pass attempts for 240 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for New Orleans, while Jordan Ellis rushed for 90 yards with 25 carries. Dixon caught seven passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns. Jerod Fernandez earned 12 tackles and two tackles-for-loss on breaker defense.
The Stallions host a 2-1 game against Tampa Bay this Saturday, May 7 at 6:00 p.m. at Protective Stadium in Birmingham, which will be broadcast live on FOX.