During the last time these two teams played, Birmingham came away with a 22-13 victory, as their defense effectively shut down Kyle Sloter in the second half. Today told a similar story, as both defenses made things tough for the opposing offenses.
Let’s take a look at what happened in today’s game, as it was bound to be an entertaining matchup from the get go.
Birmingham got the ball first, and their offense was off to a hot start. Some large runs from Bo Scarbrough and J’Mar Smith set the team up in a scoring position. However, Osiris Mitchell coughed the ball up on the one yard line, as Vontae Diggs forced the turnover, and New Orleans recovered.
The Breakers could not capitalize on the fumble, quickly having to punt. This time around, another long drive from Birmingham resulted in a score. J’Mar Smith dropped a dime to Adrian Hardy in the back of the end zone, putting the Stallions on top 7-0.
It doesn't get much more beautiful than this 😍@jMar_Smith hits Adrian Hardy with a beautiful over-the-shoulder pass for six!
Bo Scarbrough led the way for Birmingham in the first quarter, dominating on the ground. Heading into the second quarter, the Stallions led by seven.
New Orleans put together a pretty decent march to start the second quarter, but came up empty. A 50 yard field goal attempt from Taylor Bertolet sailed left, and the Breakers were unable to cut into the lead. Their defense was able to get the ball back, though, forcing a quick punt.
On their next possession, New Orleans pushed the ball down field smoothly. After getting into field goal range, the team settled for three as Bertolet knocked through his second attempt of the day. With several minutes left in the second period, Birmingham was on top 7-3.
The Stallions offense took a step backwards in the second quarter, unable to find a groove as they did in the first. A miscue between Smith and Marlon Williams resulted in an incomplete pass on third down, and Birmingham had to punt again.
Neither offense could find a way to score much in the first half, as the defenses dominated the majority of these two quarters. New Orleans had an opportunity late in the quarter, but Sloter threw an interception to Tyree Robinson in the red zone.
Birmingham did get into field goal range for Brandon Aubrey, but he just missed a 52 yarder as time expired in the half. The Stallions led 7-3, with New Orleans to receive the kickoff in the third quarter.
The Breakers went to work quickly. Kyle Sloter hit Taiwan Taylor with a beautiful ball down the sidelines, putting them deep in Birmingham territory.
New Orleans was not able to keep up the solid momentum from their previous possession, resulting in a punt for their offense as well. The defense kept the pressure dialed up on J’Mar Smith, knocking the ball loose, and Connor Christian recovered.
The Breakers continued to shoot themselves in the foot, however. Taylor Bertolet missed another field goal, preventing New Orleans from widening their lead. Birmingham could not capitalize on the miss, punting the ball quickly.
New Orleans continued to struggle offensively. Sloppy play dominated the second half, as neither team could find a rhythm. A dropped pass on third down caused the Breakers to punt the ball again.
Why has the @USFLBreakers defense been such a problem for the Stallions? @joelklatt breaks it down in the latest edition of Hardcore Football ⬇️
Birmingham finally found a way to put points on the board. Some excellent throws by J’Mar Smith set them up in field goal position, and Brandon Aubrey just barely hit a 29 yarder, putting the Stallions on top 10-9.
While the Breakers had an opportunity to score on their final drive, things didn’t go as planned. Sloter had to simply throw the ball up into the middle of the field, and Josh Shaw made the interception for Birmingham.
Generally speaking, today’s game was quite sloppy across the board. Dropped passes, offensive miscues, missed kicks, etc. took center stage for most of the afternoon.
However, Birmingham found a way to win, as messy as it was. J’Mar Smith made some timely throws when needed, propelling the team to victory. On the other hand, Kyle Sloter made a couple of major errors that ultimately lost New Orleans the game.
With today’s win, Birmingham improves to 8-0, clinching the South Division crown. New Orleans drops to 5-3, leaving the door open for Tampa Bay to make a move.