Birmingham's Dominant Defensive Display Powers Stallions To Victory

Birmingham’s Dominant Defensive Display Powers Stallions To Victory

Week four of the USFL continued today with a primetime FOX showdown between the Birmingham Stallions and Tampa Bay Bandits. Whoever won tonightโ€™s game would either maintain, or take first place in the division.

Coming into Saturday night, Birmingham was the final undefeated team in the USFL. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay was 2-1, having an inconsistent year – but showing resilience through it all.

As expected, this faceoff turned out to be an entertaining affair, despite the defensive standoff. Letโ€™s take a look at what happened in tonightโ€™s matchup between these two South Division rivals.

First Quarter

Tampa Bay received the opening kickoff, and looked solid to start. Jordan Taโ€™amu marched the team down the field, putting them in scoring range. A 37 yard field goal from Ty Rausa put the Bandits in front early, 3-0.

Interestingly enough, Birmingham went with Alex McGough as the starting QB. Because Jโ€™Mar Smith was out for most of the week with an illness, Skip Holtz decided to put McGough out instead. Things did not go smoothly on their first drive, however, as Birmingham punted the ball quickly.

Throughout the rest of the quarter, neither team was able to find much of a rhythm. Penalties weighed down both sides, and we went into the next period with a 3-0 Bandits lead.

Second Quarter

Birmingham had possession of the football to start the second quarter, but another mediocre drive resulted in a punt. Alex McGough had a chance to pick up a first down, but slid early, leading to a fourth down situation.

Tampa Bay was quickly forced to punt, and that gave Birmingham another chance with the football. This time, they capitalized.

A long, methodical drive down the field set up Alex McGough with a scramble as he dove towards the endzone, giving the Stallions a 7-3 lead with under two minutes left in the half.

Tampa Bay responded immediately. A trick play set the Bandits up in excellent field position, as Tampa Bay ran the first double-pass of the USFL season on a flea flicker.

On the very next play, Jordan Taโ€™amu threw a dart to Rashard Davis, securing it in the back of the endzone. Taโ€™amu has looked a lot more like his XFL self in the past couple of weeks, and this throw is a prime example of just that.

After that quick score to end the half, Tampa Bay went into the locker room with a 10-7 lead.

Third Quarter

Birmingham received the second half kick, and put together a nice drive. They marched relatively deep into Tampa Bay territory, before settling for a field goal attempt from Brandon Aubrey. It was successful, tying the game up at 10.

While Tampa Bay had to punt quickly, Birmingham ended up sending the ball right back to the Bandits. Tampa Bay punted again, and this time the Stallions took advantage. The team cashed in on a big punt return, which set up Brandon Aubrey for another field goal, putting Birmingham on top 13-10.

The Stallions dominated in the third quarter, and even though they only led by three, the team had all the momentum in the world heading into the final twelve minutes.

Fourth Quarter

Birmingham put together another solid drive deep into Tampa Bay territory. But for the first time this season, Aubrey missed a field goal, leaving points off the board for the Stallions.

The Bandits marched down the field, but a huge defensive stop pushed Tampa back into a long field goal try. Ty Rausa pushed the 58 yarder right, and the score remained 13-10.

Birmingham was forced to punt, but their defense continued to play at an extremely high level. Scooby Wright III burst through the line on a crucial third down, sacking Taโ€™amu which led to another punt.

The Stallions did exactly what they wanted to do – run out most of the clock, while scoring. However, they settled for a field goal, leaving Tampa Bay with a bit of time left down 16-10.

Trends that set themselves usually donโ€™t change, especially when theyโ€™re set in place. That was the case tonight, as Birminghamโ€™s defense swallowed up Tampa Bayโ€™s final attempt to score, and held on. The Stallions remain undefeated, with a 16-10 win over the Bandits.

Final Thoughts

Birminghamโ€™s defense is looking like one of the best in the USFL, if not the best. Despite missing DeMarquis Gates, the Stallions completely shut down Tampa Bay, shutting them out in the second half. Scooby Wright was spectacular, leading the way for his squad.

Ultimately, Tampa Bay just did not do enough to get the win in Birmingham. Jordan Taโ€™amu wasnโ€™t terrible, but struggled to find his groove in the second half. This was largely due to poor offensive line chemistry, and messy communication up front.

Birmingham now improves to 4-0 on the season, taking full control of the South Division. Tampa Bay drops to 2-2, and sits in the third seed after week four.

What did you think of Birmingham vs. Tampa Bay? Which players performed the best in your opinion? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!