Memphis Showboats Outlast Houston Gamblers 23-20

Memphis Showboats Outlast Houston Gamblers 23-20

USFL week 7 continues with the Houston Gamblers taking on the Memphis Showboats. Memphis is coming into this game on a 3-game winning streak, this is after losing thier first three matchups. Houston is hoping to secure a key win to keep them in the playoff picture for the south.

Due to some technical difficulties the game was delayed, luckily fans didn’t need to wait much longer for the action to begin.

First Quarter

Cole Kelley and the Memphis Showboats would start out the game with possession. Things did not go as planned, with Kelley getting picked off to give the Gamblers the ball.

They came out with a strong drive, but the Memphis defense was able to hold them to three at the goal line.

Regardless, the Gamblers would take an early 3-0 lead over the Showboats with plenty of time to go.

Derrick Dillon continued to shine for the Showboats, he came in clutch to bring them into the redzone giving them a prime opportunity to score.

It didn’t take long for the Showboats to find their man. On the next play Cole Kelley found Vinny Papale wide open to put Memphis on the board.

Houston had a bit of a scare on the return with Anthony Ratliff-Williams dropping the ball. Luckily, he was able to secure the fumble to get the Gamblers drive alive.

The Showboats defense proved to be too much for Houston, forcing a quick 3 & out.

With Kelley back in control of the ball it looked like he may have through it away. The Showboats were ultimately saved by the flag, with Houston receiving an offsides call to negate the play.

The first quarter would end with Memphis at 1st down.

Second Quarter

The Gamblers defense started putting on more pressure in the second. Enough so to force the Showboats to bring in Alex KKessman for a 41-yard field goal attempt.

Houston’s offense still couldn’t find their footing, quickly punting is back to Memphis giving them a shot to extend their lead.

On the next drive the Showboats were put into a 4th & short scenario, and Coach Heley opted to go for it. His intiution worked in his favor with Memphis converting to move the chains and keep the drive going.

They were able to get the ball into the red zone, but ultimately had to settle for three with Alex Kessman knocking it through the uprights from 28-yards out.

Hoiuston was doing everything they could to have a meaning ful drive to try and grab some more points before the half. They were saved by the refs giving them a fresh set of downs. But, on the very next play a tipped ball was picked off by the Showboats defense, giving them the ball with 2:29 left in the half.

Memphis wasn’t able to do much with this possession, quickly punting it back to Houston with 2:09 on the clock.

Kenji Bahar came into this drive with a mission, and it showed. The Gamblers were moving the ball better than they had all afternoon.

The Showboats defense started putting on more pressure, pushing Houston back to 3rd and 33. But, that didn’t stop Bahar, he was able to move the ball into field goal possition for the team to grab three more before time ran out in the half.

Nick Vogel initially missed the attempt, but a Memphis penalty gave them another shot to score. This time he was blocked on a 41-yarder, but was once again saved by a flag. As they say, third times a charm, Vogel was able to knock the final attempt through the uprights from 29-yards to make it 13-6 in the Showboats favor to go into the half.

Third Quarter

The Gamblers would start the half receiving the kickoff, giving them a shot to even things out.

Kenji Bahar and team was looking much more comfortable this time around. Both Keke Chism and Mark Thompson, who were reletivvely quiet in the first half, contributed to keep the chains moving.

Still, once they got passed mid-field Houston stalled out and were forced to attempt a long field goal attempt. Vogal had some issues to end the half, and he was blocked once again here to keep it 13-6 in the Showboats favor.

Memphis continuied where they left off, moving the ball, and moving it well. Kerrith Whyte came in big with back to back first down runs.

The ground game was proving to be successful for the team. Still, they were still forced to settle for a field goal. The Memphis Showboats now held a 16-6 lead over the Houston Gamblers.

Both teams traded the ball a few time, but with nearly 2 and a half minutes left Justin Hall Kyree Woods took a big hit on the return. This resulted in a fumble, but the Gamblers were able to recover.

The Showboats defense proved to be too much for Houston to handle. On 3rd and long the Gamblers made their best effort to convert, but before they could punt they let the clock run off to head to the final quarter.

Fourth Quarter

Cole Kelley and the Showboats started out the fourth with a chance to extend their lead and possibly close out the game.

White continued to shine for the team, taking the ball 22-yards for another fresh set of downs.

At the end of the drive the Gamblers defense was able to push them slighty out of field goal possition, so they opted to punt it away.

Houston was looking good on this drive, moving the chains convincingly down the field. Keke Chism took a big hit, which would be a big blow for the team if he had to come out. Chism has been a core member of the scoring offense for the Gamblers in recent weeks.

On the next play Bahar went long to Josh Peterson who nearly secured the score.

With the ball at the one, Bahar handed it off to Mark Thompson for the first Gamblers touchdown of the afternoon. Additionally, this touchdown has set a new modern USFL record, topping Darius Victor’s 2022 performance.

The Showboats were out to run down the clock and add some more points to pad their lead. The mometum had definitely shifted towards Houston. Their defense came up with some big stops to force a Showboats punt.

Houston couldn’t capitlize on the possession, going three and out and giving the ball back to Memphis with a little over 4 minutes to go.

Memphis had a great oppotunity to close out this gfame, but back to back holding calls moved them back to 1st & 30. Plus, it stopped the clock, which worked in the Gamblers favor. But the worst was yet to come. Cole Kelley took a big hit and fumbled the ball which was recovered by the Gamblers giving them great field position.

Mark Thompson eventually got the ball and found his gap to get into the endzone to put the Gamblers in the lead. The XP puts them up 20-16 with only 1:49 for the Showboats to respond.

And respond they did. Derrick Dillon got the ball and found a huge gap to run it long to put the Showboats back on top.

The Gamblers still had 1:29 to come back, including two timeouts. All they needed was a field goal to possibly force the game into overtime.

At the end of the day the Gamblers just didn’t have enough gas in the tank to edge it out. The game ended with Kenji Bahar throwing an interception on 4th down.

This win puts the Memphis Showboats directly in playoff contention in the South. Other than the Birmingham Stallions, the remaining teams share a record of 4-3. It’s increasing looking like the playoff hunt could come down to the final week of the season. Although Memphis started out slow, they’re finding their rhythm at the perfect time. Houston will need to go back to the drawing board as they prepare to take on the Maulers next weekend.

What are your thoughts on this USFL matchup between the Houston Gamblers and Memphis Showboats? Which USFL players impressed the most? Let us know down in the comments below or join the conversation on Discord!