An overcast day saw the Pittsburgh Maulers (2-3) come into Memphis to play the Showboats (2-3). A battle between two teams still trying to get their footing in the league.
After an 0-3 start to the season, Memphis has won two in a row but still remains in last place in the South Division. The Maulers’ win last week against the Michigan Panthers put them in a four-way tie in the North Division.
Derrick Dillion took the opening kickoff 49 yards setting up the Showboats in Maulers territory. A couple of good runs from QB Cole Kelley ( 14-24 135 yards TD) and Memphis was looking to get into the end zone first. But they would come up short and settle for a 46-yard field goal from Alex Kessman for a 3-0 Memphis lead.
The teams traded punts and one thing was certain. Offense was not the strong point of the day so far. With just over four minutes left in the first quarter, both teams combined for just 34 yards of offense. At the end of the first, the score remained 3-0 Memphis and the two offenses were still trying to get untracked.
The second quarter started out with Memphis RB Juwan Washington (20 carries for 78 yards) going left side for 30 yards to the Memphis 44. RB Ezra Gray would convert a fourth and one to keep the drive alive. A few players later, Kelley would hit WR Vinny Papale for a 37-yard touchdown pass to make it 10-0 Showboats.
On a third and four, Kelley hit Dillon for a 27-yard strike to give the Showboats a fist and ten at the Maules 49. But the drive would end a few plays later. On came Kessman and he would blast a 48-yard field goal to extend the Memphis lead to 13-0.
On the ensuing drive. the Maulers would move the ball for the first time in the game. They started at their own 42 and a mix of run and pass plays got them within striking distance. But then, Maulers QB, Troy Williams (13-19-1, 145 yards) would throw an interception to kill the possible scoring drive. The pass was picked off by CB Quenton Meeks and set up Memphis again in Maulers territory.
The first half was winding down but not before Maulers kicker, Chris Blewitt attempted a 59-yard field goal. The kick fell short and was fielded by Dillion nine yards deep into the end zone. He would return it, breaking some tackles, and 109 yards later found himself hitting paydirt. The extra point was missed and would send both teams into the locker room with Memphis holding a 19-0 lead.
Derrick Dillon goes 109 yards to end the half 😱🤯Via USAnetwork #usfl #football #touchdown #amazing
If there was one thing to take up to this point, it was the fact that the Pittsburgh offense was having a hard time moving the football against the Memphis defense. Although it was not the most stellar offensive performance, the Showboats were doing just enough to take advantage when they could.
The Maulers took the second-half kickoff and placed the ball at their own 41 hoping to put some points up on the board. On fourth and one from midfield, the Memphis defense would stand tall and get the ball back. But they would go three and out and give the ball back to the Maulers.
The Maulers would get another big play on a 33-yard pass completion from Williams to TE Matt Seybert. But once again the Maulers would shoot themselves in the foot and settle for a 51-yard field goal that came up short. The possession was the best of the day moving the ball against the Memphis defense.
The teams would trade punts and then it happened again. QB James Morgan dropped back to pass for Pittsburgh and he was picked off by CB Kyree Woods who returned the ball to the Maulers 12. But Memphis could not get the ball in the end zone and settled for a Kessman 27-yard field goal to make it 22-0 with three seconds left in the third.
The fourth quarter would give more of the same. The Maulers were unable to move the ball or take advantage of any chance they would get. Penalties would also be drive killers. So, with just over 10 minutes to go in the game, the Showboats were looking to use some clock and secure the victory. A big 41-yard reception from Dillon set Memphis up in Pittsburgh territory again. They would be forced to punt but got a break when the kick was downed at the 1 of Pittsburgh. But a review found that was not eh case and it was ruled a touchback.
With 7:20 to go in the game, it was still 22-0 and the Maulers just wanted to get some points don’t the board to avoid the shutout. For the Showboats, they were trying to get the first shutout of the USFL season. Crazy when you think that Memphis was almost shut out in Week 2 when they were blown out by Birmingham 42-2.
From that point on it was just grind down the clock time and the Showboats would win their third straight game by a 22-0 score. They would get to .500 with a record of 3-3 while the Maulers fell to 2-4 on the year.
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