Birmingham Stallions Defeats New Orleans Breakers In Electrifying South Division Semi-Final

Birmingham Defeats New Orleans In Electrifying South Division Semi-Final

The USFL playoffs continued on Saturday night, with an electrifying showdown between the Birmingham Stallions and the New Orleans Breakers on NBC.

During the season, Birmingham won both games – but by the skin of their teeth. Interestingly enough, the two outings during the year were dominated by defenses on both sides. In fact, week eight’s game was one of the messiest of the season, with a 10-9 finish as the Stallions barely edged out the Breakers.

Heading into tonight’s game, we were unsure about Kyle Sloter’s status, as he has been injured. However, he did get the start for the team, which is something all Breakers fans wanted to see.

In tonight’s game, things came down to the wire, as expected. Let’s take a look at what happened between these two South Division rivals.

First Quarter

Birmingham received the opening kickoff, and saw early success with CJ Marable and the ground game. After getting into New Orleans territory, though, they couldn’t capitalize. A fumbled snap put them in a tough position, and Brandon Aubrey just missed a 52 yard field goal, keeping points off the board.

Things went well for New Orleans to start. Taiwan Taylor made an incredible catch on a pass from Kyle Sloter right away, and the team seamlessly marched down the field.

Jordan Ellis, the league’s leading rusher, made an impact quickly. Ellis ran it in from a couple of yards out, putting the Breakers on top 7-0.

Birmingham had it going smoothly on their next drive. Bo Scarbrough was running the ball quite well, making defenders miss every time he touched the rock.

The first quarter came to an end in the middle of the drive, with New Orleans on top 7-0.

Second Quarter

The Stallions were able to complete the possession. J’Mar Smith found Osiris Mitchell wide open in the end zone, and Birmingham tied the game up at 7.

Unfortunately, mistakes that hurt New Orleans in the season were also evident in the playoffs. After a solid drive, Sloter held onto the football too long – and then tried to force a throw. This was not a smart idea, and DeMarquis Gates came up with an interception, one that he returned to the house, putting Birmingham on top 14-7.

New Orleans continued to shoot themselves in the foot. An unnecessary (and, questionable) taunting call negated an important gain, which ultimately led to the Breakers having to punt the football.

That being said, their defense came up with an important stop, which gave Sloter and the offense the football right back. A wild sequence on third down that included a fumble somehow earned New Orleans’ another set of downs, keeping their drive alive.

Things were pretty crazy to close out the half. First, Kyle Sloter found Jordan Ellis on a fourth down attempt, who broke a tackle, and took it to the endzone to tie things up at 14.

Then, on the very next play, Victor Bolden took the kickoff to the house – the first time anyone has accomplished that this season in the USFL. Just like that, Birmingham led by a touchdown once again.

New Orleans put together an impressive possession, despite having limited time left in the half. However, Kyle Sloter was intercepted by Tay Hayes, ending the drive before they could score.

With two quarters under our belt, the halftime score was Birmingham, 21; New Orleans, 14.

Third Quarter

New Orleans opened up the second half with a long, methodical drive down the field. Sloter, while making a few mistakes, made some important throws that kept the team moving.

In fact, their first drive took up over ten minutes of game time. After all of that, they had to settle for a Taylor Bertolet field goal, and it was a 21-17 ball game.

With how long the Breakers had the football, the rest of the quarter went by quickly. Heading into the final fifteen minutes, Birmingham had a 21-17 lead – and were marching down the field.

Fourth Quarter

Birmingham missed out on some opportunities too – it wasn’t just New Orleans. J’Mar Smith missed a wide open Victor Bolden in the end zone, so Birmingham had to settle for a field goal, taking a 24-17 lead.

While New Orleans continued to convert quite a few third down attempts, a miscue between Sloter and Taylor left the team empty handed, and they had to punt.

In today’s game, Birmingham seemed to rediscover their swagger. The first several weeks of the regular season were fascinating to watch, as this offense was electrifying. During the final few games, things were pretty sloppy.

Tonight, Birmingham was on the same page – which was evident on this drive. J’Mar Smith and his talented receivers put together an incredible possession, picking up every first down they needed – while running down the clock.

J’Mar Smith took absolute command of the ball game, picking apart New Orleans’ defense play by play. With under a minute left, Smith took it into the end zone himself, giving the Stallions a 31-17 advantage.

Birmingham held on to win the South Division, with a 31-17 win over the New Orleans Breakers.

Final Thoughts

No doubt about it: the USFL’s inaugural playoffs did not disappoint. Tonight’s game between these two South Division rivals was sensational from the first snap, to the final minutes.

Overall, it was Birmingham who made few mistakes tonight – which ultimately sealed their fate as the South Division champs. J’Mar Smith was exceptional, leading his Stallions to the first USFL Championship game.

With their win, the Birmingham Stallions will face off against the Philadelphia Stars, in the USFL’s inaugural Championship game. It starts at 7:30PM ET, on FOX. Folks, grab your popcorn – you don’t want to miss this one!

What did you think of Birmingham vs. New Orleans? Did you enjoy the USFL’s first week of the playoffs? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!