Late Return Touchdown Dooms Maulers In Loss To Stallions

After earning their first win of the season last week, the Pittsburgh Maulers turned their attention to the reigning USFL champions Birmingham Stallions. Unfortunately, the team’s inability to reach the end zone once again hurt the team losing 24-20 and falling to 1-3 on the season.

The game started off on the right foot for the Maulers as Josh Simmons returned the opening kick to the 45-yard line. Troy Williams picked up right where he left off last week against the Philadelphia Stars, marching his team down the field, but stalling at the Stallions two-yard line. Instead of going for it on fourth down, Pittsburgh head coach Ray Horton elected to kick the field goal which Chris Blewitt converted to give the team an early 3-0 lead. 

The Maulers defense continued to show that they are the strength of the team in Birmingham’s opening drive. The Stallions struggled to get any momentum established resulting in a quick punt back to Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, the Maulers couldn’t capitalize on the stop, punting the ball back after just six plays. 

Once again, though, the defense steps up. Former Steeler Mark Gilbert steps in front of a Alex McGough pass, snagging his first interception of the season and setting the Maulers up in Stallions territory.

The offense came out aggressive following the pick with Troy Williams hitting wide receiver Bailey Gaither on a long 35-yard strike. With the ball at Birmingham’s three-yard line, the Maulers redzone woes continued. The team settled for another field goal, which put the score at 6-0. The Maulers have only scored a touchdown on one of 11 red zone trips so far this season. 

Lucky for Pittsburgh, they wouldn’t need to wait long until they got the ball again. McGough tried to dial up a deep pass, but instead found Maulers defensive back Keith Gipson Jr., who intercepted the quarterback for the second time in as many attempts.


An impressive drive from Williams came next where he had several big plays. A rush for 16 yards, followed by a 20 yard connection with tight end Matt Seybert put the Maulers back in the red area, but the frustrations persisted, leading to yet another Chris Blewitt field goal. 9-0 Maulers with 5:45 left in the first half. 

The Stallions finally got some momentum on the offensive side of the ball. A nine-play, 4:04 minute drive saw the team getting their first points of the game on a Brandon Aubrey field goal. It should be noted, the score didn’t come easy with Pittsburgh nearly getting their third turnover, forcing a fumble on Stallions running back ZaQuandre White, but the call was ultimately overturned. 

A quick three-and-out for the black-and-yellow gave the Stallions good field position with 1:12 to go before halftime. They made the most of their opportunity, cruising down the field behind the arm and legs of McGough. The quarterback went 4/6 on the drive, eventually putting an exclamation point on it with a five-yard touchdown run as time expired. 10-9 Birmingham at half. 

The Stallions got the ball back at half, but they couldn’t keep the good times rolling thanks to a dropped pass by another former Steeler Deon Cain that could have gone the distance. Pittsburgh took over deep in their own territory on the 10-yard line. A deep, high arching pass from Williams found its target in receiver Tre Walker for a 27-yard gain. The completion helped to build some momentum for the Maulers as Williams found Isiah Hennie for another nice gain for 15. That would be the last big play from the drive, but never fear, Chris Blewitt is here. He drilled a 47-yard field goal to take back the lead 12-10. 

A nice drive by the Stallions would follow with McGough again leading the charge. Starting on their 25-yard line, Birmingham put together a 14-play drive that spanned 8:55, bleeding into the fourth quarter. McGough did his best Patrick Mahomes impression on a third-and-goal, escaping the Maulers rush and hitting his receiver Davion Davis for the touchdown. Stallions lead 17-12 with 9:40 remaining. 

The Maulers would waste no time getting back to work. Simmons once again set the team up with great field position on the kick return at Pittsburgh’s 44-yard line. From there, the team may have had their best offensive drive of the season needing just five plays to get the ball in the endzone. Williams had the honor of scoring it with a huge 34-yard run up to middle and past the goal line for the touchdown. Next, the team would dial up an end around for Hennie for a two-point conversion, which converted. 20-17, Maulers.


The lead would last no longer than a play, with the Stallions returner Cain taking the kickoff 91 yards to give the lead back to Birmingham. 

A quick three-and-out for the Maulers gave the ball back to the Stallions with under five minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Birmingham’s turn with the ball in crunch time came to a pivotal fourth-and-one on Pittsburgh’s 44-yard line as the game went to the two-minute warning. Following a quick time out by the Stallions, they decided to go for it and it paid off. McGough’s QB sneak pushed the ball past the marker giving the team a first down. That would be all she wrote for the game as the Maulers had no timeouts left to stop the clock.

Pittsburgh will now turn their attention to the Michigan Panthers next Saturday at 12:30 PM. 

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