That would be about all she wrote for Michigan’s offense, though, but we’ll get to that in a moment. Mike Nolan’s defense dominated the early portion of this game, as Frank Ginda set up the squad nicely after picking off Troy Williams.
However, Michigan would have to punt, which turned out to be a trend throughout the outing. Pittsburgh would then grab a firm hold of this game – never relenting. Mason Stokke ran the ball in from a few yards out, to tie things up at 7 a piece.
The Pittsburgh Maulers were clearly on a mission. After the early turnover, this offense cleaned up quickly. Troy Williams was spectacular, and put the team in front with a dime to Isiah Hennie in the back of the end zone.
Troy Williams has been improving with each and every week.
On queue, a red zone turnover cost Michigan again. Knocking on the door – with a chance to finally pull within one score, Carson Strong made a brutal mistake. On 3rd down, he tossed it right to Arnold Tarpley – who had a massive return to give Pittsburgh great field position.
With a 23-7 lead, the Pittsburgh Maulers effectively shut the door on this one. For the second time at Ford Field, Ray Horton’s group would come away with a win, absolutely dominating from start to finish.
Pittsburgh Maulers Playmakers
QBTroy Williams: What a performance from Troy, who put the team on his back for the third straight week. He’s been sensational, growing in confidence with each and every game. Williams finished the game with 184 yards and two touchdowns on 15/19 passing. Additionally, he rushed for 59 yards and a score on just ten carries.
WRBailey Gaither: Gaither has been a consistent playmaker for Ray Horton in the USFL this season, and that was no different today. On top of his highlight reel snag, Bailey racked up 89 yards on just four grabs. He continues to show up week in and week out.
LBKyahva Tezino: When is Tezino *not* making a big play? His presence on the defensive side of the football has been invaluable, especially with Reuben Foster out with an injury. Tezino finished with seven tackles today, which doesn’t do full justice to the impact he had on every drive.
DLChris Okoye: Pittsburgh’s entire defensive line was stellar today, but Okoye stood out above the rest. He racked up four tackles, 4 TFL, and a sack. Simply unstoppable.
Michigan Panthers Standouts
DEBreeland Speaks: The sole bright spot today for Michigan was Breeland Speaks, who had a monster performance. Six tackles, 2.5 sacks, a TFL – and, a clutch fumble recovery that gave his team a glimmer of hope down the stretch. Speaks absolutely should be in the DPOY conversation in the USFL.
Despite the loss, Breeland Speaks had himself a day:
Coach Nolan addressed the offensive issues, and will certainly be re-evaluating things moving forward. He admits that the self-inflicted wounds are what’s killing the team – especially red zone turnovers.
On the bright side, Nolan knows that it’s a ten game season, and has plenty of confidence in his squad’s ability to turn things around in the second half of the year.
How about those Pittsburgh Maulers? This team is playing with heart, energy, and one mind under the leadership of Ray Horton. Since making the switch to Troy Williams as the full-time starter, this offense has been on fire.
Meanwhile, Jarren Horton’s defense is playing like the best unit in the USFL. Boogie Roberts, Kyahva Tezino, Vaughn Taylor, Olive Sagapolu, Eli Walker, etc. – there’s so much talent on this roster. Pittsburgh now jumps to the second seed in the North, with a 2-3 record. This is the first time they have ever been in the playoff picture in the modern USFL.
The Michigan Panthers have quite a bit to figure out. They’ve lost three straight at home, letting down their fans with each and every outing. In addition, the offense has somehow looked worse with every week. Something needs to change, quickly.
What are your takeaways from this matchup between the Michigan Panthers and Pittsburgh Maulers? Which USFL players made an impact? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!