On the other side of the field, Bailey Gaither would be out for the Maulers due to an illness.
Whether strategic or forced, each team would be making adjustments going into this matchup.
The Michigan Panthers would start the game with possession of the ball, giving Paxton Lynch a chance to showcase his skills and hopefully secure a starting spot for the rest of the season if he could get some meaningful action on the field.
Michigan has had a slow start to the season, after being favored by many to win the inaugural USFL Championship. On the first drive, Lynch was looking much better than his previous appearances. On 3rd and 10, Lynch took it into his own hands to run the ball down the middle to move the chains. On the next drive, he handed it off to Stevie Scott to give them the early lead.
After the drive Paxton Lynch went to the medical tent to have a look at his ankle. It doesn’t look like a serious injury, but could put a snag in Coach Fisher’s plans for the afternoon if he needs to bench him.
Coach Fisher has seen enough of the kicking woes, ultimately opting for two. Lynch, once again took the game into his own hands, sneaking it in for the extra-points.
Lynch once again came out and moved the ball convincingly. Near the goal line, Lynch ran it into the endzone again, giving his team a nice early lead. The Panthers decided to go for two again, this time with Lynch handing it off to Cameron Scarlett to give them a 16-0 advantage.
Compared to last week, the Panthers look like a completely different team. Now, it’s up to them to see if they can continue the momentum.
Love was able to move the ball a little better on this drive, but ultimately faced the same result when they were forced to punt it away.
Lynch had another opportunity to extend the Panthers lead and hopefully coast his team to their first win. His injury was seemingly coming into play on this drive. In one play in particular his ankle seemed to give out when he tried to rotate his body. But, on the next play he went long, but could not find his receiver.
Starting the 2nd, it showed Paxton once again going to the medical tent. You could hear him saying he wasn’t able to twist on it, and then we’re shown Shea Patterson practicing on the sideline.
The Maulers also made an adjustment, bringing in Kyle Lauletta for the first time since week 1. After the cameras showed Paxton Lynch heading back to the locker room, Lauletta secured a first down for the Maulers, continuing their drive. When presented with 3rd down, Lauletta took to the ground to get enough yards to move the chains.
The offense seemed to stall from there. Just a couple mistakes too many for Pittsburgh and they decided for for a long field goal attempt. The Panthers defense came out big, tipping the kick attempt, keeping the Maulers scoreless.
.@jh_era11 laying his body out to block the field goal‼️👏🐾
With Lynch still in the locker room, Shae Patterson would see his first action of the afternoon. The team heavily relied on Stevie Scott and their running game, and it looked to be working well for them.
Patterson also had a few moments of greatness out there, making some solid passes.
When presented with 4th down, Coach Fisher stuck to his guns on going kicker-less and decided to go for it. Patterson went deep, but the Maulers defense did their job in the coverage to regain control of the ball.
Starting out the drive, Coach Wilson decided to bring Josh Love back in at QB. Still, the Pittsburgh offense failed to get any meaningful yards being forced to give it back to the Panthers once more.
Although the broadcast showed Paxton Lynch heading back to the sidelines, Patterson continued on on the field for Michigan.
At this point in the game Michigan had already secured as many yards as they had in the first two weeks, with 166-yards compared to 160 total of the previous matchups.
With no timeouts left, the team tried to spike the ball with 4-seconds left, but time ultimately ran out before they could execute. Coach Fisher was, interestingly enough, hoping to go for a field goal, but were forced to go into halftime with a 16-0 lead.
The Maulers and Kyle Lauletta would start out with possession to start the second half. Things were looking a little better, but still not enough to get into scoring position. With 12:54 left in the 3rd they punted back to the Panthers.
Fortunately for Pittsburgh, their defense forced a stop and punt, giving them a shot to get back into the game.
Madre London was able to get some nice running plays for the Maulers on this drive, giving the team a new tactic on the ground. When presented with 4th down, Coach Wilson sent is kicker out there to attempt it from 59-yards out. Predictably, the kick was wide, giving Michigan control of the ball and good field position.
Patterson still couldn’t find his rhythm on the field. When the team was forced to punt, the Maulers D came up big with a block giving them prime field position.
Pittsburgh couldn’t muster enough offense to secure a first down, or find the endzone. On 4th and short, Coach Wilson decided to go for it, but the Panthers got a big 4th down stop and the ball.
The Panthers were unable to do much, giving Pittsburgh the ball again.
Josh Love was back on the field, and this time looked determined to make something happen. For the firs time this afternoon, he was able to make some convincing passes, moving the chains on a few occasions.
Although they were close, they were stuck with deciding what to do on 4th & 3. Ultimately, Coach Wilson knew it was now or never and wanted a touchdown. After some pressure, Love was pushed back and failed to convert.
Neither team was able to get anything going, not since the first quarter at least. The Panthers had a quick three and out before sending it back to Pittsburgh.
Things continued to stall on both sides, with each team punting back and fourth.
Coach Fisher seemed to have one goal in mind every time the Panthers had possession; run the clock. Since Paxton Lynch came out and secured the first two touchdowns of the game, we’ve seen both teams scoreless. The Panthers wouldn’t be upset if that continued for the rest of the matchup.
Regardless, Patterson had his best drive of the afternoon. He was able to bring the franchise near the goal line, where he handided off to Reggie Colburn for another Panthers score.
.@ReggieCorbin walks right into the end zone for the touchdown‼️🐾