Memphis Showboats Earn First UFL Picks In Win Over Houston Roughnecks

Memphis Showboats Earn UFL Draft Picks In Win Over Houston

The UFL regular season finale is upon us. Heading into the year, one would not have expected both the Memphis Showboats and Houston Roughnecks to both have records of just 1-8 – dead last in the UFL across the board. But, here we are.

This matchup has a unique twist to it. The winner, not the loser, will earn the first pick in every round of the 2025 UFL Draft. Since the two teams have the same records, and both will finish as the 7th and 8th seeds in the UFL, this change makes plenty of sense. It gives these athletes something to play for, and hopefully will draw some eye balls to the game as the season wraps up.

When these two franchises faced off back in week one, Memphis came away with an 18-12 win in what was an ugly affair. Since then, both Memphis and Houston have struggled mightily. The Showboats, to be honest, look like the worse team, struggling to remain within 10 points of their opponents. Houston has looked rough, but has consistently been a bit more competitive.

Let’s take a look at what went down at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium, wrapping up the UFL regular season in rather intriguing fashion.

First Quarter

The Memphis Showboats received the football to begin this game. Josh Love trotted out onto the field, to make his first start since week nine of the USFL’s 2023 season. He looked sharp to begin, but Memphis was held to a field goal, as Matt Coghlin put them up 3-0.

Houston got off to a quick start offensively, with Kirk Merritt ripping off a couple of big plays in his first game back since week two. Justin Hall scored a touchdown, but it was called back due to Coach DeFilippo challenging for offensive pass interference.

This led to the Roughnecks deciding to go for it on 4th and 2. Lamont McPhatter made a huge play defensively on Mark Thompson, and Memphis took over on downs.

The Showboats couldn’t capitalize, being backed up deep in their own territory. Houston’s defense forced a punt, and they got the football back.

On their second possession, Curtis Johnson decided to put Reid Sinnett in the game. He got off on the wrong foot, throwing an interception to Quenton Meeks. With one quarter down, Memphis led 3-0.

Second Quarter

Houston’s defense stepped up on the ensuing possession. Christopher Allen absolutely blew up an end around to Daewood Davis, which resulted in the Showboats punting it away again.

Nolan Henderson came back into the game for the Roughnecks, but looked pretty out of sync. He missed on several throws, and Houston had to punt. Memphis wouldn’t have much more success, either, having to send it right back to the Roughnecks.

Kirk Merritt looked fresh in his first action back. He broke off a massive gain on a pass from Henderson, putting them deep in Memphis territory. The Showboats defense held up, though, and JJ Molson hit a 25 yard field goal to tie it at 3.

As the half came to a close, Memphis was able to get into scoring position. Matt Coghlin hit his 14th field goal attempt in a row, and the Showboats held a 6-3 lead heading into halftime.

Third Quarter

To start the second half, Houston received the football, and Henderson went out on the field. His legs proved to be a key component on this drive, rushing for a couple of first downs. However, Houston would come up empty. JJ Molson missed a 40 yard field goal attempt, and it remained a 6-3 ball game.

Memphis put together an excellent offensive drive on their first possession of the third quarter. Darius Victor came alive, rushing for a couple of clutch first downs. This led to a rushing score for Victor, and the Showboats took a 12-3 lead.

Houston responded quickly. Henderson pushed the ball down the field with Merritt and Keke Chism, which led to a one yard score from Kirk. The one point try was no good, and it was a 12-9 ball game.

Josh Love played a clean game, up until this next drive. He tried to force a throw to Jonathan Adams, and it was tipped by Jimmy Moreland – and intercepted by Markel Roby. It originally was a pick six, but a penalty negated the score. Regardless, the Roughnecks had the football in their hands with fifteen minutes left to play.

Fourth Quarter

With momentum and the football, Houston was able to tie things up. It felt like they missed on a couple of opportunities to score a touchdown, but JJ Molson’s kick made it 12-12 with 10 minutes left to play.

Josh Love played impressively well today, navigating in the pocket and using his legs when needed. Jonathan Adams also had a solid day with a couple of big catches to put the Showboats in scoring position.

The drive was capped off with Darius Victor bulldozing his way into the end zone for the second time tonight, giving Memphis the lead. The PAT to Daewood Davis was successful, and the Showboats were on top 19-12.

Houston found a way to make things interesting. Max Roberts sacked Henderson to put them in a long third down situation, but Nolan found Anthony Ratliff-Williams for the first down to keep the drive moving.

For the first time all season long, the Memphis Showboats would close out a game with their defense. Lamont McPhatter made a tremendous tackle to keep Justin Hall in bounds – which then led to Tyshun Render tipping away the final pass on fourth down, sealing the victory.

The Memphis Showboats would go on to win this final game, 19-12, over the Houston Roughnecks.

Standout Playmakers

QB Josh Love: In his first start of the year, Josh Love played a damn good football game. With the exception of his interception, he protected the football, and made the plays that had to happen in order for Memphis to win. Love completed 69% of his pass attempts for 152 yards tonight.

RB Darius Victor: Victor ended his UFL season on a high note. After 98 yards a week ago, he posted 54 yards and two scores on just ten carries, making a major difference offensively in this win.

WR Jonathan Adams: “Big Play Jay” did his thing tonight, with six catches for 59 yards. The numbers won’t pop off the stat sheet, but he did all the little things he needed to do to help Memphis secure the victory. His aggressiveness and ability to moss defenders week in and week out should earn him an NFL opportunity somewhere.

DB Lamont McPhatter: Ever since being activated several weeks ago, Lamont McPhatter has proven to be a leader defensively for Memphis. He once again led the team in tackles tonight, with 10 – adding two TFL’s to his tally.

DE Jordan Ferguson: Ferguson played a heck of a game, and is one of the few defensive players who had a consistent season for Memphis. He posted seven tackles, a sack, and two TFL’s in the win tonight.

Houston Roughnecks

WR/RB Kirk Merritt: Merritt was tremendous, picking up right where he left off in week two. Kirk had 11 touches for 100 yards and a touchdown tonight, and made several big plays that allowed Houston to stay in this ball game. If only he was healthy for the full season…

DB Markel Roby: Roby has had an under the radar campaign in Houston, playing outstanding football this year. He had five tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, a PBU, and an interception tonight. A jack of all trades for Chris Wilson’s defense.

Post-Game Comments

Showboats’ HC John DeFilippo gave his thoughts on this win, and how important it was to this team:

“Obviously, this season didn’t go the way it wanted, but I want to thank everyone in this room for being professional this year. I couldn’t be prouder of our football team. Obviously, we would’ve wanted a few more wins in between the bookend wins, but sometimes that’s the way it goes. We fought hard tonight, and it would’ve been easy to give up and lay it down tonight, have the I-95 North look to you, for players and coaches. We didn’t do that. When it got hard down there, we buckled down. We’re proud to be a part of the community here in Memphis.”

Roughnecks’ HC Curtis Johnson commented on the loss, and how this season has gone for Houston:

“Memphis did a great job. They came out and didn’t make the mistakes that they made in the past. Carnell Lake did a really good job of gameplanning for us defensively. Coach DeFilippo had a great offensive game plan as well. They ran the ball and we couldn’t get off the field. I thought Nolan played well, and we had some spotty plays that we showed sparks of life with. Defensively, we didn’t get the stops we needed too, and got tired at the end. This was a disappointing season for us, it was a season full of winters. We improved in increments, and I think we found our quarterback. But, there were too many miscues and mistakes this season.”

Final Thoughts

The Memphis Showboats managed to win this game because of their defense. After giving up 30.9 points per game this year, the Showboats allowed just 12 points to Houston, shutting the door on the late surge from Henderson & Co.

Despite going just 1-7 on third downs, Memphis came away with the win, and finish their season with a 2-8 record. Their two victories were against Houston.

The Roughnecks are a talented team, but simply lack execution. This was evident throughout the game tonight, and Curtis Johnson has a lot more questions than answers heading into this offseason. Expect plenty of roster turnover for not just Houston, but Memphis as well.

With the UFL season now behind us, the focus shifts to the postseason ahead. The Birmingham Stallions, Michigan Panthers, San Antonio Brahmas, and St. Louis Battlehawks will continue their seasons in an effort to earn a Championship title.

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