Stallions Fall to Gamblers, Suffers First Loss of the Season
The Birmingham Stallions lost their first game of the season to their South division rivals, the Houston Gamblers, 17-15 on Saturday, falling to 8-1 and leaving no more undefeated teams in the USFL.
Like they have done just about all season, the Stallions trailed in the second half of the game and were even able to get control of the lead like usual, but for the first time, the opposing team took the lead back and kept it. With the upset win, the Gamblers improve to 2-7, tasting victory for the first time since Week 1.
In a matchup that featured many field goals and punts by both teams, neither quarterback put up any really eye-popping numbers as J'Mar Smith of the Stallions went 28-of-41 on passing for 260 yards, one touchdown and one interception, while Kenji Bahar of the Gamblers went 16-of-24 on passing for 164 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Instead, both teams' kickers, Brandon Aubrey of the Stallions and Nick Vogel of the Gamblers, took a lot of the spotlight and performed well in it, each going 3-for-3 on field goals.
The first quarter of the game featured only one complete possession by each team, where Houston punted and Birmingham made a field goal after producing an 18-play drive that lasted over 10 minutes.
The second quarter of the game gave each team many more possessions as the ball changed hands six times, in which the Gamblers took advantage of by kicking three field goals and punting only once, as opposed to the Stallions kicking one field goal and punting twice. The Gamblers won the kicking duel in the first half, giving them a 9-6 lead at halftime.
The start of the second half was like much of the first half, with each team trading punts before Birmingham found themselves pinned on their own five yard line on third and 11, where Smith threw an incompletion that was called for intentional grounding, resulting in a safety for Houston.
After the Gamblers went three and out on their possession after the safety, the Stallions put together a 10-play drive that resulted in the first touchdown of the game, giving them the 12-11 lead. The Stallions, however, couldn't completely capitalize off of the score as they went for and failed a 2-point conversion from the Houston seven yard line after they were penalized for a false start. These two missed points would prove crucial in the final score of the game.
The fourth quarter began with the Gamblers immediately responding to the Stallions touchdown with a four-play touchdown of their own to bring the score to 17-12, but failing their two point conversion as well. The Stallions responded with a field goal to bring the deficit to 17-15, but ran out of gas after that, with their last three possessions resulting in a punt, an interception, and the game clock running out on them.
What may make the Stallions loss even worse is that they beat the Gamblers in just about every stat. They held the Gamblers to just 29 yards rushing, a number in which former Alabama and current Stallions running back Bo Scarbrough eclipsed by himself by rushing for 31 yards, as well as holding them to 0-of-11 on third downs, having possession of the ball for about eight more minutes, producing 17 more plays than them, and outgaining them them yardage wise, 329 to 187.
The Birmingham Stallions will play their final game of the regular season against the Tampa Bay Bandits at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama on Saturday, June 18 at 3 p.m. CT. The game will be televised on FOX. Earlier in the season, the Stallions beat the Bandits 16-10.
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