The grand finale of opening week for the USFL did not disappoint. The New Orleans Breakers and Pittsburgh Maulers faced off in what turned out to be a very electric and close game. A battle of defenses – and then in the end – one offense got hot, and executed. Let’s go over what happened.
If you look at this game as a boxing match then the first quarter was just an ugly ruse of both teams feeling each other out. Lots of sloppy play by both offenses. The Maulers came out swinging with haymakers with 3 first drive bombs from QB James Morgan down field. All were incomplete.
The New Orleans Breakers got the ball after giving up a FG and newcomer McLeod Bethel-Thompson was at QB for the Breakers. First drive was a very stagnant drive. Couldn’t really get anything going until MBT was able to find Jonathan Adams on a deep pass close to a TD, but came up short and would have to kick a FG.
This is exactly why John DeFilippo recruited McLeod Bethel-Thompson to the @USFLBreakers.
For the Breakers they just couldn’t get anything going in that first half on offense, especially the ground game. For the most part RB Anthony Jones was held in check. The stimy defensive front of the Pittsburgh Maulers had something to do with that.
Reuben Foster is already making an impact in the #USFL. Forces a fumble on Anthony Jones, and Kyahva Tezino recovers in the end zone.
Reuben Foster came up with a huge play for Pittsburgh towards the end of the second quarter. He forced a fumble, and the Maulers recovered in the end zone, to take the lead.
The first half was a battle between kickers for the most part. The second half featured more excitement across the board. In the third quarter, the New Orleans Breakers got things going. A lot more play action passing and plenty of max protection for the Offensive Line. Whatever adjustments Coach Flip and company made at the half worked. They would march down the field on their best offensive drive yet, but the Pittsburgh Maulers would come up huge and hold them to a FG.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Maulers would return a punt for a touchdown to tie it 15-15 with a little over 4 minutes to go. Isiah Hennie scored, picking up where he left off last USFL season. A missed PAT would keep the game tied and keep the Breakers with time left to put together a scoring drive.
The Breakers would get it and put together their best drive yet. Putting together a very balanced drive and also killing the clock and forcing the Maulers to burn their final timeout with about a minute and a half to go. The Breakers continue to get chunks of yards while burning the clock. They would punch it in the end zone of a rollout pass from QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson to RB Anthony Jones for a Touchdown with a minute left.
Ray Horton’s Maulers would get it, but they would be no match for the Breakers defense and the clock would hit 00 sealing a New Orleans Breakers win; and, also Coach Flip’s first ever win as a Head Coach. Breakers win 22-15.
It was an excellent opening weekend of football in the USFL. The New Orleans Breakers have a few things to figure out, but picked up the pace in the second half. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Maulers simply need to find a way to score on offense.
🌊 @USFLBreakers Coach John DeFilippo was diagnosed with a spinal condition that affects his foot. After doctors told him he may never walk again, he made a promise that he would run onto the field for the first game he coached. He came through on that promise today. 💙 pic.twitter.com/stCuMsj3iw