In a battle between two 2-3 teams, the Pittsburgh Maulers put up a stinker on the road against the Memphis Showboats, losing 22-0 and falling to last place in the North Division.
The Maulers kicked off to start the game and Memphis’ WR Derrick Dillon returned the kick to the Pittsburgh 39, giving Memphis great field position right off the bat. The Maulers forced Memphis into a 4th and 2, but they went for it and their QB Cole Kelley ran a QB draw for a first down. A sack on 3rd and 10 forced a Memphis field goal attempt, and Alex Kessman’s 46-yard attempt gave Todd Haley’s Memphis squad a 3-0 lead with 10:34 left in the first quarter.
Coming off a performance where he was named USFL Offensive Player of The Week, Maulers QB Troy Williams and the offense took the field at their own 36 following an impressive return from WR Josh Simmons. The Maulers would go three-and-out, though and Memphis took over at their own 22.
After a first down on a QB sneak, the Maulers would force a punt and get the ball back at their own 17-yard line. A 16-yard completion from Williams to WR Isiah Hennie gave the Maulers a first down, and another first down completion to WR Bailey Gaither got the Maulers close to midfield. An unsportsmanlike conduct on WR Tre Walker cost the Maulers 15 yards and made what should have been 4th and short a 4th and long and they punted away.
An illegal double-team block by Memphis led to them starting at their own nine-yard line, and they ran one play before the first quarter ended. On the opening play of the second quarter, RB Juwan Washington ran for 30 yards and was pushed out of bounds at the Memphis 44. That was the catalyst for a nine-play, 92-yard drive capped off by a 37-yard catch and run touchdown by WR Vinny Papale. Memphis took a 10-0 lead with 10:43 left in the first half.
The Maulers couldn’t answer, going three-and-out. A horse collar tackle against Pittsburgh cost them 15 yards after a 24-yard reception by Dillon on the third play of the drive, and that 39-yard gain was enough to get Memphis into field goal range. A 48-yard field goal by Kessman put Memphis up 13-0 with 5:05 left in the half.
The disaster of a half by the Maulers continued when CB Quenton Meeks picked off Williams’ pass and brought it back to the Memphis 45 with over two minutes to go in the half. The Maulers were able to force and three out, though, keeping the deficit at 13-0. Disaster struck once again on the last play of the half, as Chris Blewitt’s 59-yard try was short and returned for a touchdown 110 yards by Dillon to give Memphis a 19-0 lead at the break after Kessman missed the extra point.
The Maulers couldn’t convert on 4th and 1 on their drive coming out of the half, and Memphis took over at midfield. Memphis couldn’t do much with it, and the Maulers finally got some momentum on their next drive with a 33-yard catch and run from TE Matt Seybert. A six-yard completion to Walker was then followed by a 51-yard field goal try by Blewitt, but he missed and was 0-2 on the day as the Maulers still trailed 19-0.
After a nine-play Showboats drive ended in a punt, the Maulers made a quarterback change and brought in James Morgan, who immediately threw an interception to safety Kyree Woods. That set up Memphis at the Pittsburgh 12. They couldn’t capitalize beyond a field goal from Kessman to put them up 22-0 toward the end of the third quarter.
Most of the fourth quarter was largely uneventful outside of a 37-yard catch by Dillon, but the Showboats still had to punt on the drive. The Maulers’ troubles moving the ball continued, even with the switch to Morgan at quarterback. With under three minutes left though, the Maulers started to get something going, with Morgan connecting with FB Mason Stokke for a ten-yard gain before finding Hennie over the middle for 32 yards down to the Memphis 39. But they wouldn’t get much further than that, and on 4th and 19, Troy Warner, the brother of San Francisco 49ers linebacker Fred Warner, picked off Morgan to clinch the 22-0 win.
The loss moves the Maulers to 2-4. They’ll match up with the 2-3 Philadelphia Stars at 9 p.m. next Saturday night at Tom Benson Stadium in Canton, Ohio.