Birmingham Stallions Top St. Louis Battlehawks In Thriller

Birmingham Stallions Top St. Louis Battlehawks In Thriller

Folks, the wait is over. On one side, the Birmingham Stallions. On the other side, the St. Louis Battlehawks. A.J. McCarron’s return to pro football in Alabama.

The Birmingham Stallions are 6-0, undefeated in the UFL. They continue to dominate the spring football scene, with no signs of slowing down any time soon.

For the St. Louis Battlehawks, they’ve burst onto the scene in this merged league as one of the top teams. They lead the XFL conference with a 5-1 record – and haven’t lost a game since week one’s tragic loss to Michigan on a walkoff 64 yard field goal.

Fans were calling this a UFL Championship preview, and rightfully so. These two heavyweights are favorites to win their respective conferences.

Let’s take a look at what went down at Protective Stadium today.

First Quarter

The St. Louis Battlehawks received the football to start this game. A.J. McCarron trotted out onto the field in hopes of putting together a solid opening drive. Birmingham’s defense got the best of them, though, and St. Louis punted. The Stallions wouldn’t have much more success, as Pita Taumoepenu’s sack forced an early punt from Birmingham.

John Chavis’ defense would strike again. A.J. Thomas came away with an interception on McCarron, and set up Birmingham with excellent field position.

This led to the first score of the game. C.J. Marable ran it in from a yard out, and Birmingham took the lead 6-0.

As the quarter came to a close, St. Louis put together an excellent drive, and were poised to score heading into the next period.

Second Quarter

After getting into the red zone, Birmingham’s defense held up once again. Dondrea Tillman got home to McCarron, and they had to settle for a 38 yard field goal from Andre Szmyt.

Willie Harvey had a big day for the Battlehawks. He sacked Adrian Martinez which put them in a 3rd and 22 hole, but a pass interference call on the next play kept the drive alive for Birmingham. The Stallions would kick a field goal on their end, taking a 9-3 lead.

St. Louis kicked their offense into gear on the next possession. McCarron found Hakeem Butler down the sidelines for a 44 yard gain, which resulted in the first of three touchdowns for Jacob Saylors today. The Battlehawks converted on the two point attempt, and held an 11-9 advantage.

Birmingham would respond. As time ticked down in the first half, Adrian Martinez found Deon Cain in the end zone, for his first touchdown pass of the day. Marlon Williams ended up cashing in on the two point try, and the Stallions led 17-11.

The Battlehawks managed to get into field goal range swiftly, and as time expired, Andre Szmyt connected on a 61 yard field goal to make it 17-14.

Third Quarter

The Stallions would make some early mistakes in this second half. Ramiz Ahmed missed a field goal from 41 yards out, allowing St. Louis to take over. While the defense forced a punt, Isaiah Zuber muffed the catch, and Jerome Kapp jumped on it for the Battlehawks.

Just a couple of plays later, A.J. McCarron would find Jacob Saylors for a touchdown, and the Battlehawks regained the lead, up 20-17.

With just fifteen minutes left to play, Birmingham had the football – and were inside the Battlehawks red zone.

Fourth Quarter

While Willie Harvey forced a fumble on Ricky Person Jr., it didn’t matter. Birmingham recovered, and then just one snap later, Martinez threw it to a wide open Marlon Williams for the touchdown.

It was quite the outing for Jacob Saylors today. A couple of penalties from the Stallions helped St. Louis get down the field, and Saylors punched it in from 7 yards out, and the Battlehawks took a 26-23 lead.

The emergence of Kevin Austin Jr. these past two weeks needs to be studied. After being silent for most of the year, he’s erupted for almost 200 yards across the last two games. He came up clutch once again, catching a pass from Martinez and taking it the distance to give the Stallions a 30-26 lead.

Jordan Thompson, who has had a phenomenal year for Birmingham, made another important play. He sacked McCarron on their next drive, which ultimately forced a punt.

Things got a bit out of hand at the end of this game. The Stallions had to punt it back – and Chris Garrett broke through with a block. This gave St. Louis fantastic field position with less than a minute to play.

Ultimately, it was the Stallions defense who would seal the deal. On 4th down, linebacker Kyahva Tezino broke up the throw from McCarron to Jahcour Pearson.

The Birmingham Stallions went on to win an absolute thriller at home, 30-26 over the St. Louis Battlehawks.

Standout Playmakers

QB Adrian Martinez: Martinez continues to look like one of the best quarterbacks in this league. He threw for 230 yards and 3 TD’s, while adding 60 yards on the ground. Birmingham’s offense is legitimately unstoppable when he’s in a rhythm.

WR Kevin Austin Jr.: Kevin Austin had another big game, posting 59 receiving yards and a touchdown on the day. His speed is unreal, and was on full display during the long touchdown score.

WR Marlon Williams: Marlon has emerged as a top target in this offense as of late. While this is partially due to injury, he’s been excellent – totaling 41 yards, a touchdown, and a successful two point conversion today.

LB Kyahva Tezino: With all the injuries to the linebackers in Birmingham, Tezino has stepped up. He leads the team in tackles, and did so once again today with seven. His PBU won the game for the Stallions this week.

S A.J. Thomas: Thomas has proven to be a key piece in this revamped secondary. He totaled six tackles, an interception, and a PBU against St. Louis.

DE Dondrea Tillman: Credit to Tillman who has been such an elite playmaker for Birmingham over the years. He compiled four tackles, three TFL’s, and a sack. Tillman’s name was called often in this one.

St. Louis Battlehawks

RB Jacob Saylors: Saylors had himself a day in the red zone. His three scores were pivotal in giving the Battlehawks a chance to win this one.

DB Qwynnterrio Cole: Cole did some great work for St. Louis today, leading the team with 12 tackles. He also added a TFL and a PBU to his stat sheet.

LB Willie Harvey: Harvey was everywhere in Birmingham. He had: 10 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 TFL’s, 1 PBU, and 1 forced fumble. Just a ridiculous performance from Willie against Birmingham.

Post-Game Comments

Stallions’ HC Skip Holtz commented on how close this game was, and what Birmingham had to do to win it:

“What a great game. Before the game, we talked about how this was two really good football teams that were going to battle. As long as we didn’t have a flood of turnovers or something like that, it was going to be a good one. It certainly wasn’t the cleanest game, we allowed a punt block, and fumbled a punt. I can sit here and go through the little mistakes. I don’t think we played perfect, but we came away with a win. I’m really proud of how our team competed.”

Battlehawks HC Anthony Becht was a bit frustrated, knowing that his team had opportunities to close the door:

“Hell of a game man, everyone got their money’s worth today. As far as our team, this concerned Adrian Martinez was a problem today, on third down and with his legs. Trust me, we game planned and schemed. We put ourselves in a position where we thought we had a plan – but that kid is good. It’s been happening every week, the legs are a difference maker. We had a chance at the end, and that’s all we wanted. After we probably didn’t play our best game. We expected to have a good game, and it was. Just wish we could’ve made a few more plays earlier in that football game.”

Final Thoughts

This was, no doubt, the Game of the Year in the UFL so far. Skip Holtz and his Birmingham Stallions were certainly tested, but they ultimately got the best of Anthony Becht and his squad.

The Stallions are clearly at their best with Adrian Martinez at the helm. His versatility as a runner makes them nearly impossible to slow down. Birmingham was 7-11 on third down conversions today – much to the dismay of Coach Becht in St. Louis.

Birmingham also outgained St. Louis by 135 yards. They were able to regain control in the fourth quarter, and simply didn’t let go even when the Battlehawks made a late push. St. Louis is still the second best team in the UFL, but they have some things to clean up if they want to top spring football’s finest.

Week seven of the UFL continues tomorrow, with the DC Defenders hosting the Michigan Panthers at 12pm ET on ESPN.

What are your thoughts on this matchup between the Birmingham Stallions and St. Louis Battlehawks? Which players impressed you the most? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!