Birmingham Stallions Continue Winning Streak with 35-28 Win over Houston Roughnecks

Birmingham Stallions Streak Continues with Win Over Roughnecks

The Houston Roughnecks and Birmingham Stallions faced off at Protective Stadium on Saturday night for their week eight matchup. The Roughnecks come into this game off a last-second loss at home against the San Antonio Brahmas. They’re now 1-6 and eliminated from playoff contention with three games remaining. The Stallions enter this contest still undefeated at 7-0, coming off a thrilling victory over the St. Louis Battlehawks last week at Protective. With three games left in the regular season and the playoffs clinched, Birmingham now has a real shot at perfection. Let’s take a look at what happened in this game.

Game Summary

Our first action of the game came less than 90 seconds into the game. The Roughnecks started with the ball and on third and long, quarterback Reid Sinnett was picked off by Stallions’ safety AJ Thomas. It was a beautiful catch and with a nice return, the Birmingham offense was set up well for their first drive of the night with 13:31 left in the first quarter.

On that ensuing drive, Stallions’ quarterback Adrian Martinez converted two third and longs, one with his legs and one with his arm. Faced with a third and three from the nine yard line, Martinez found wide receiver Deon Cain for a nine-yard touchdown pass. Birmingham was unsuccessful on the two-point conversion, so the score was 6-0 with 8:53 left in the first quarter. The 43-yard drive took four and a half minutes in its nine plays.

After a three-and-out by the Houston offense and a phenomenal 40-yard punt return by wide receiver Amari Rodgers, the Stallions started their second-straight possession in Houston territory. The scoring drive was capped off on a bubble screen to wide receiver Binjimen Victor. He broke a tackle and took it 12 yards for a touchdown on a pass from Martinez. With 4:41 left in the first quarter, the score was 12-0 after the unsuccessful two-point conversion. The drive went 49 yards in five plays and took just 2:22 off the clock.

The Houston Roughnecks answered right back. After wide receiver Anthony Ratliff-Williams took the kickoff into Birmingham territory on a great return, running back Mark Thompson took a third down run 37 yards for a much needed touchdown. The two-point conversion was good on a reception from wide receiver Justin Hall and the score was 12-8, Stallions, with 2:58 left in the first quarter. The drive was just three plays and went 45 yards in under two minutes. The score remained 12-8 heading into the second quarter.

The Stallions scored on their third-straight possession of the night. Just 45 seconds into the second quarter, kicker Ahmed Ramiz nailed a 45-yard field goal after a failed third down attempt. The field goal made it a 15-8 lead for Birmingham after the seven-play, 27-yard drive.

A missed field goal by Roughnecks’ kicker JJ Molson set up Birmingham’s following drive. It ended abruptly when Martinez fired deep and was intercepted by safety Donald Rutledge Jr at the Houston 26-yard line with 8:14 remaining in the half.

On the ensuing drive, that included two fantastic third down throws by Sinnett to Hall, the Roughnecks pulled the score closer before the half. Thompson ran the ball in for the second time in the first half, this time from three yards out. The two-point conversion was no good, so the score was 15-14, Stallions, with 1:56 remaining in the half. It was a six minute long drive that spanned 74 yards in 11 plays.

A brutal offsides penalty by Houston’s special teams during a Stallions’ punt extended the drive and it gave new life to the Birmingham offense. They capped off their final drive of the half with a touchdown. Martinez took it in himself from four yards out with seven seconds left and made the score 21-14 following the unsuccessful two-point conversion. It was an 11-play, 71-yard drive that took less than two minutes off the clock and took us into the second half.

The first score of the third came with 9:58 remaining in the quarter on the opening drive. Martinez found Rodgers for a ten-yard touchdown pass. It was a beautiful toe drag by Rodgers after he dropped a touchdown on the previous play. It was Martinez’s third pass touchdown of the night and fourth overall. The one-point conversion was good to tight end Jordan Thomas and the score was 28-14, Stallions. It was a nine-play, 57-yard drive that took five minutes off the clock.

The Roughnecks responded on their first possession of the second half. A tremendous ten-play, 70-yard drive was capped off by a three-yard rush touchdown by quarterback Nolan Henderson, who split time with Sinnett this week. The two-point conversion was no good, so the score was 28-20 with 4:22 remaining in the third quarter. The drive took five and a half minutes and inched Houston back into striking distance for the lead. The score would remain heading into the fourth quarter.

The Stallions fired right back. A six-play, 65-yard drive ate up nearly three minutes and gave Birmingham a more comfortable 35-20 lead with 1:24 remaining in the quarter. The touchdown was thanks to Martinez from eight yards out. It was his fifth on the day and second rushing. Running back Larry Rountree ran in the one-point conversion to give the Stallions their 15-point lead heading into the final quarter.

After a Stallions fourth down stand and Rountree fumble, the Roughnecks closed the gap once again. After an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty gave them the ball at the two, Sinnett found tight end Braedon Bowman for a two-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion was good for Hall, and it made the score 35-28 with 7:21 left. The drive went six plays in three minutes and only needed 21 yards thanks to the takeaway.

The score would remain that way and Birmingham climbed to 8-0 on the season. The Roughnecks fell to 1-7, but played their best game of the season against the league’s best team and came up just short. Despite being out of the playoff race, it was impressive to see Houston playing so hard at this point in the season.

Standout Playmakers

QB Adrian Martinez: Five touchdowns. The likely UFL MVP had another ridiculous performance finishing with 217 total yards. He had a rare interception but still finished with a 95.2 QBR. He continues to light the league on fire. Three-straight games with at least three passing touchdowns.

RB Ricky Person Jr: Person didn’t score this week but was efficient as usual. He averaged 4.3 yards per carry and had 74 total yards on 17 touches. He is one of the most consistent and productive backs in the UFL every week.

WR Amari Rodgers: Rodgers only had two catches for 16 yards, but his touchdown catch was a fantastic toe drag and he was good in the return game (40-yard punt return). He’s shown NFL speed all season and been a great role player for Birmingham.

WR Deon Cain: Cain finished with four receptions for 29 yards and a touchdown. He also added another ten on the ground. He’s had some drop issues this year, but he continues to make plays when his number is called this season.

LB Demarquis Gates: In his return, Gates finished with eight tackles to lead the team, a sack, and a TFL. He was flying all over the field along with fellow linebacker Kyahva Tezino (7 tackles, PBU) and were bright spots for a team that surrendered 28 points.

S AJ Thomas: Thomas is tied for the league lead in interceptions (3), and he had another today. He finished with four tackles and has been good playing center field for the Birmingham defense the last couple weeks.

Houston Roughnecks

QB Nolan Henderson: Henderson provided a spark in his first extended action of the season. He was 9/14 for 97 yards and added 34 yards and a touchdown on the ground. With the playoffs out of the question, expect to see Henderson the last two weeks of the season.

QB Reid Sinnett: Sinnett split time with Henderson and was solid. He provided 107 total yards and a touchdown but also threw a pick in the team’s first drive. He continues to provide solid quarterback play and proves his high football IQ every week.

RB Mark Thompson: Thompson scored twice and finished with 54 yards on 11 rushes. Each week he continues to look more like himself, and his presence helped the offense have their best outing of the season. He’s clearly still one of the best backs in the league.

WR Keke Chism: Chism has been solid all year for an inconsistent receiver group. He finished with 80 yards on seven catches and several of those receptions were tightly contested. He should get 20+ targets over the next two weeks.

WR Justin Hall: Hall had another great game with four catches for 73 yards. A few of those were on big-play downs where they needed their playmaker to make something happen. Hall should get a shot in an NFL camp following the season.

CB Jimmy Moreland: Moreland played very well, finishing with eight tackles and a terrific forced fumble on Rountree on a Peanut Tillman punch. The Houston secondary has struggled all year, but he showed up today.

S Donald Rutledge Jr: The Houston leading tackler added another seven today and an interception on Martinez. Rutledge has been a consistent bright spot on a defense that has been riddled with injuries this season. At only 26, he has a bright future.

Key Factors

The Birmingham offense didn’t play perfectly and still put up 35 points. Two uncharacteristic turnovers and some untimely penalties prevented them from winning this game more convincingly. Still, they’re 8-0 on the year and two games away from perfection in the regular season. They have the league’s MVP playing at an extremely high level and they continue to score at will. The defense was without defensive coordinator/play caller John Chavis, and it showed. They allowed 135 rushing yards to the worst run team in the league and gave up 28 to the UFL’s worst offense. We shouldn’t expect this trend to continue and feels like it should be more so attributed to that, as well as a letdown off last week’s huge win.

The Houston offense had their best outing of the season with Sinnett and Henderson splitting time. They finished with 311 yards and their highest scoring total of the entire season. Both quarterbacks played well but Henderson deserves a good portion of snaps at this point in the year. The defense looked very similar to their week five matchup with Birmingham. They allowed 322 yards and let the Stallions go a perfect five for five in the red zone. The Roughnecks have struggled to play complimentary football all year. Each time their offense plays well, their defense has a rare bad game. They’ll continue to play hard but expect players to rotate more going forward so more are able to get game film.

Final Thoughts

The Stallions will look to extend their winning streak next week in San Antonio against the Brahmas on Saturday. A game that could mean nothing for both teams will be a good opportunity for Birmingham to inch closer to 12-0. For Houston, they’ll host the Michigan Panthers on Sunday next week in a rematch of their 34-20 loss in week three, looking to pick up their second win of the year.

Can anyone beat the Birmingham Stallions this season? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below or join the conversation on Discord.

Fubo