Michigan Panthers Top Memphis Showboats For Fourth Straight Win

Michigan Panthers Top Memphis For Fourth Straight Win

Week eight of the UFL kicked off today, with a game that didn’t mean too much when it comes to the playoffs. The 5-2 Michigan Panthers hosted the 1-6 Memphis Showboats at Ford Field, for the second of two meetings between these teams this season.

There was a special surprise prior to this matchup. Tom Brady made an appearance – which shocked just about everyone. He was there to do a practice run of commentating with Kevin Burkhardt, as the two will be calling NFL games this year.

With Memphis having been eliminated last week, Michigan clinched their playoff spot. The Panthers have been on a roll, winning three straight games. Mike Nolan has his squad operating at a high level, and they’re dominating opponents week in and week out.

On the other side, the Memphis Showboats have lost six straight games. They’ve consistently been blown out, most recently losing 47-23 against Arlington. When these two franchises faces off in week five, the Panthers took care of business, 35-18.

Let’s take a look at what went down at Ford Field Today.

First Quarter

Brian Lewerke opened up this game at quarterback for the Michigan Panthers. It was smooth sailing for Lewerke, as he swiftly pushed the ball down the field. Brian found Cole Hikutini for an early score, and the Panthers jumped ahead 6-0.

It would take just one play for the Memphis Showboats to strike back. John DeFilippo has consistently talked about getting off to a fast start, and that’s what they did. Case Cookus found Daewood Davis down the sidelines, who took it to the house on their first play from scrimmage.

Bryce Perkins came into the game for Michigan, which was expected. He led the team right down the field, and Matt Colburn finished things off with a one yard score to make it 12-6.

Nate Brooks, who got burned by Davis on the touchdown, made up for it. He intercepted Case Cookus, giving Michigan even more momentum. The Panthers had to punt, though, and Memphis had it back in their hands as we entered the next period.

Second Quarter

The second period opened up with both teams trading punts. It was a defensive affair after what was a burst of offense early, with both defensive lines setting the tone.

Kenny Willekes has played some outstanding football for Michigan this year, and showed up yet again. He got a sack on Cookus midway through the quarter, forcing another punt.

With not a whole lot of time left in the quarter, the Showboats defense did exactly what they couldn’t do: give up a touchdown.

Bryce Perkins found Devin Gray across the middle, who took off with tremendous speed, taking it to the end zone. With less than a minute to play in the first half, Michigan held an 18-6 lead.

Memphis would respond. As the half came down to its final seconds, the Showboats got into field goal range, and Matt Coghlin hit from 55 yards out. With two quarters down, the Michigan Panthers led 18-9.

Third Quarter

It was a rather interesting start to the second half for Memphis. Cookus unloaded a deep ball to Dee Anderson which was complete, but Cookus got knocked out of the game. This led to Josh Love taking the field – which was quite the storyline. It was his first action all year, and it came back at Ford Field, against the team he started for nine games just a season ago.

Love got right to work. He connected with Daewood Davis for his second score of the day, and the Showboats pulled within three points.

Jake Bates, who has been unreal all season long, had a moment where he looked to be human. Michigan attempted a 51 yard field goal with Bates, but it was wide right, and Memphis took over.

With one quarter left to play, the Showboats had the ball, and were marching.

Fourth Quarter

To open up the final period, Matt Coghlin hit from 37 yards out, tying the game. Memphis has consistently been down by two, or more scores in the fourth quarter, so this was new territory for them to be right back in it late.

The Michigan Panthers were uncharacteristically out of rhythm offensively in this second half. That all changed when Bryce Perkins entered back into the game.

He once again marched Michigan down the field, and used his legs to extend plays. His athleticism is, to be honest, next to none in this league at the quarterback position – except for maybe Adrian Martinez. After a touchdown to Gray was called back, Colburn found paydirt, and Michigan went up 24-18.

Things didn’t go as planned for Memphis’ offense from here on out. On third and long, T.J. Carter absolutely buried Josh Love, and Memphis had to punt.

Matt Colburn would pick up a couple of first downs for Michigan, and they were able to run out the clock. The final score: Michigan Panthers, 24; Memphis Showboats, 18.

Standout Playmakers

QB Bryce Perkins: Perkins looked fantastic in his second action of the year. He finished with 106 passing yards, completing 7 of his 9 passing attempts, and was fluid in the pocket. Bryce could end up being the guy moving forward, if Etling can’t get back to 100%.

RB Matt Colburn: Colburn is emerging as the go to guy in Marcel Bellefeuille’s offense. He had 24 carries today, posting 93 yards and two scores. After Wes Hills went down, Colburn carried this team on his back, and did what needed to be done in order to secure a win.

WR Devin Gray: How about Devin Gray? He’s been relatively silent this year, not seeing the field as much as he did with the Philadelphia Stars. That said, Gray was potent today, stepping up in a big way with 84 receiving yards and a touchdown.

S Sean Mahone: Mike Nolan spoke about Sean Mahone post-game, and how he continually stays ready. Mahone hasn’t seen the snap counts he saw last year, but with Kai Nacua injured, showed up when Michigan needed it. Mahone led the Panthers with six tackles, a TFL, and a clutch sack.

DB Nate Brooks: Brooks secured the perimeter after his early lapse. He posted two tackles and an interception – and also came up with another pick that was taken back due to a defensive penalty.

Memphis Showboats

WR Daewood Davis: Not surprisingly, Davis makes his way back onto this list. He absolutely should be in the NFL after this season with the way he has played. Davis had two touchdowns today, to go along with 86 receiving yards.

DB Lamont McPhatter: McPhatter did his part defensively, leading the Showboats with 10 tackles. After being inactive for the first couple of games, he has stepped up nicely in their secondary, flying around across the field.

Post-Game Comments

Panthers Coach Mike Nolan gave his general comments on the win, and what he saw from his team today:

“From a team standpoint, I thought we showed a lot of resiliency today. It was a back and forth game, and they were in it all the way. We feel fortunate that we did win it. We had some plays called back that we would have liked to make, but that’s what penalties do to you. Losing Wes early hurt, and we’ll know tomorrow what his status is. With Colburn – Matt, he’s been strong all year long. We’re lucky to have him. He continues to play very well.”

Panthers DE Kenny Willekes had a couple of comments on what Defensive Coordinator Collin Bauer brings to this locker room:

“It’s been a lot of fun to play with this group of guys. It’s like a family. We hang out off the field, it’s like a brotherhood and we have each other’s backs. We like to hit, fly around out there, and have fun. Collin Bauer has done an amazing job bringing this group together, he does a great job scheming us up each week. We got a good group of guys, and we have to keep building this momentum as we head towards the playoffs.”

Showboats Coach DeFilippo spoke on how proud he is of this team, even though they didn’t get the win:

“I thought our guys played their butts off. There was a lot of heart out there. Just one play either way, I told our guys in there that I hurt for them a lot. I am proud of them, and how they competed – and how they have stayed the course and bought in. This year has not gone the way any of us wanted it to go. It’s a really good football that played today, gotta give Coach Nolan and the Panthers a lot of credit. They’re in the playoffs for a reason. We’re going to keep grinding though, just keep plugging away, because that’s all we can do.”

Final Thoughts

The Michigan Panthers continue to win football games. It wasn’t exactly a pretty performance today, given some of their miscues, but the Panthers are now 6-2. They continue to get better each year, and have now totaled their wins from the last two USFL seasons in just eight weeks.

Some troubling news: starting RB Wes Hills went down early with an injury, and it doesn’t look good. It’s likely he’ll miss time, potentially the rest of the season, depending on how that plays out. Regardless, the depth that Michigan has should keep them moving in the right direction.

The Memphis Showboats were so close today, but yet so far. They took some serious steps forward, but shot themselves in the foot today. They had 13 penalties for 130 yards – which is simply unacceptable if you’re trying to win in professional football. DeFilippo and his unit will have to regroup yet again, after their seventh straight loss.

Week eight of the UFL continues tonight, with the Birmingham Stallions hosting the Houston Roughnecks at 8pm ET on ESPN2.

What are your thoughts on what happened today between the Michigan Panthers and Memphis Showboats? Which UFL players impressed you the most? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!