Birmingham Stallions Cruise Past Memphis Showboats In Home Opener

Birmingham Stallions Cruise Past Showboats In Home Opener

Week three of the UFL continued today, with the Birmingham Stallions making their home opener against the Memphis Showboats.

Birmingham is off to another 2-0 start in the spring football scene, having taken care of business against the Panthers a week ago. The team has put together a couple of outstanding defensive performances, and have ridden those so far.

As for the Memphis Showboats, they probably believe they should be 2-0 as well. Last week, Memphis crumbled in the final moments against San Antonio, allowing a two score comeback in less than a minute.

While it’s only week three, this game is extremely important for both teams looking to grab control of the USFL Conference. Let’s take a look at what went down at Protective Stadium.

First Quarter

The Memphis Showboats got the football first, and things got off to a disastrous start. Birmingham’s defensive line has been outstanding through two weeks, and Jonathan Garvin picked up two sacks on the opening drive to force a punt.

Adrian Martinez got the start for the Stallions today at quarterback. Matt Corral had earned that role the last two weeks, but Skip Holtz decided to roll with Martinez this time around. He looked solid on this opening drive, using his legs to create plays as usual.

In the red zone, Birmingham got a bit lucky. Martinez threw a pass across the middle, which deflected off of someone’s helmet – and ended up in the hands of a wide open Jace Sternberger. Just like that, the Stallions led 6-0.

The Showboats were stuck in a rut offensively, as their line could not protect Case Cookus at all. Birmingham got the ball back, but LB Malik Lewal knocked the ball out of Adrian’s hands, and John Atkins recovered for Memphis.

Memphis was able to use that turnover as momentum to put together a drive. Sage Surratt made a couple of plays to put the team in scoring position. Then, Vinny Papale caught a slant from Cookus with wide open space in front of him, and took it to the house.

With little time left in the period, Birmingham got right to work. Adrian Martinez dropped a perfect deep ball to Marlon Williams, and the Stallions went up 12-6 heading into the next quarter.

Second Quarter

Memphis looked smoother on this drive than they did on the first two. They were able to get the ball into Birmingham territory, courtesy of Jonathan Adams making an incredible catch, what’s new. Matt Coghlin knocked through a 57 yard field goal, and it was a 12-9 ball game.

Birmingham made another march down the field, as Ricky Person Jr. and Jace Sternberger continued to pound away at the Showboats defense. Memphis LB Jordan Ferguson made an excellent open field tackle though in the red zone, and Chris Blewitt hit a 22 yard field goal.

The drive itself took up quite a bit of time, and Memphis had only a couple of minutes left after Birmingham’s prior possession. That said, Cookus was able to buy some time in the pocket, and made a couple of clutch throws to Adams and Surratt. This led to a field goal from Coghlin again, and Memphis trailed 15-12.

The Stallions were not going to play it safe here. With only seven seconds left in the half, Martinez dropped another dime, this time to Deon Cain. This put them in field goal range, and a 46 yarder from Chris Blewitt made it 18-12 at half.

Third Quarter

Birmingham got the football to begin the second half. After what looked like a promising drive, a big sack from Josiah Bronson ended things early, and Memphis took over.

It wasn’t easy sledding for Case Cookus, as his offensive line was atrocious throughout this game. It’s not entirely their fault – Birmingham’s defensive line is simply out of this world. Cookus continued to get walloped in the pocket, and the Showboats had to punt again.

On their next possession, Martinez used his legs to generate some offense for Birmingham. They got back into Memphis territory, and settled for a field goal as Blewitt knocked through another.

The offensive line struggles were a constant for Memphis. Marvin Wilson broke through the line and sacked Cookus – the fifth sack in three quarters for the Stallions – and the Showboats were forced to send the ball back to Birmingham.

Heading into the final fifteen minutes, Ricky Person Jr. made an outstanding catch on a pass down the sidelines from Martinez, and Birmingham was rolling.

Fourth Quarter

The Stallions poured it on to begin the fourth. With the field position they had, it was an easy push to the end zone. Ricky Person stamped his impact on this drive by rushing it for the score, and Birmingham went up 27-12.

John DeFilippo made a QB change, not because Cookus was playing poorly, but because he wanted to protect him given the O-Line trouble. Troy Williams came into the game, making his first official UFL appearance. This didn’t change much, as the Stallions got home to Troy. On third down, DaMarcus Mitchell said it was his turn to make a play, and sacked Williams.

Deon Cain had an absolutely incredible outing for Birmingham tonight. He was toying with Delrick Abrams Jr., and burned him on a deep ball to set up the Stallions nicely.

A few plays later, Martinez called his own name. Adrian escaped pressure and waltzed into the end zone, and the Stallions took a commanding 33-12 lead with several minutes left to play.

The rest of the game featured Troy Williams doing his best to avoid the rush, and Memphis continuing to play sloppy. Dropped passes, miscommunications, and a lack of protection were the trends for this Showboats team tonight. Daniel Isom picked off Williams, which pretty much put the game on ice.

The Birmingham Stallions went on to win this game, 33-14, dominating the Memphis Showboats in their home opener. Memphis was able to grab a safety as the game wound down, but it didn’t mean much in the long run, obviously.

Standout Playmakers

QB Adrian Martinez: Obviously, Martinez is a no brainer for this highlight tonight, as he was *the* highlight of the game. He is the first UFL quarterback to throw for over 300 yards in a game, and showcased impressive confidence as a passer, something we all wanted to see.

WR Deon Cain: Cain had a Championship MVP-esque performance, minus the touchdowns. Deon was unstoppable, recording 144 receiving yards. His presence down the field was on full display throughout the game.

TE Jace Sternberger: It was great to see Sternberger finally get into the rhythm of this offense, after a slow start to the season. He finished the game with 73 yards and a touchdown.

LB Kyahva Tezino: Tezino, the former All-USFL Mauler, had an excellent night. He led Birmingham with 10 tackles, and also contributed with 0.5 sacks.

DT Carlos Davis: Carlos is well on his way in his brother’s footsteps. Davis posted five tackles and two sacks tonight, in what was another tremendous effort from the young playmaker.

DE Jonathan Garvin: Garvin set the tone tonight, with those two sacks early on in the game. He was just the beginning of Case’s trials and tribulations, but made a major impact throughout.

Memphis Showboats

QB Case Cookus: Case, albeit being “benched”, did what he could despite all of the pressure. Cookus threw for 139 yards and a touchdown while under heavy duress all night long. This offensive line needs to give him some time, but that seems less likely with each passing week.

LB Jordan Ferguson: Ferguson was all over the place tonight, and was one of the few defenders who made a legitimate impact on the game. He led Memphis with 10 tackles, totaling one TFL and a sack.

Key Factors

The biggest difference in this game was the offensive line play. Case Cookus had no time to throw the football, and took shot after shot from this Stallions defensive line. On the other side, Birmingham gave Martinez proper protection, which allowed him to stay poised and confident in the pocket.

Additionally, Martinez being able to start a full game clearly helped his ability to find confidence early. Last week, I said that he looked like the better quarterback against Michigan, and it’s clear that his growth is not a fluke.

The offensive production between these two teams couldn’t have been any more different. Memphis was outgained by Birmingham by exactly 200% (212, 424). Most of the Showboats yards came in the fourth quarter, during garbage time.

The Stallions averaged eight yards per play, while Memphis couldn’t even average four. This team has a lot of work to do if they want to work their way up in this conference, as they were outmatched in almost every facet tonight. John DeFilippo will have to go back to the drawing board, no doubt.

Final Thoughts

The Birmingham Stallions are, once again, the “behemoth” of spring football. If you want to make it to the UFL Championship game, you have to go through them. Plain and simple.

Week three of the UFL continues tomorrow, with the Michigan Panthers hosting the Houston Roughnecks at 12pm ET on ABC.

What are your thoughts on this game between the Birmingham Stallions and Memphis Showboats? Which UFL players impressed you the most? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!