New Jersey Cruises Over Pittsburgh In Dominant Friday Night Win

New Jersey Cruises Over Pittsburgh In Dominant Friday Night Win

Week eight in the USFL kicked off Friday night with another matchup between the Pittsburgh Maulers and the New Jersey Generals. Heading into the game, both teams were in polar opposite situations. New Jersey led the North Division with a 6-1 record, while Pittsburgh sat at the bottom at 1-6.

Back in week three when these two teams faced off, New Jersey was in control from the get go. A dominant ground attack propelled the Generals to a 21-13 victory.

This time around, it was a similar story. Let’s take a look at what happened in tonight’s game between these two North Division rivals.

First Quarter

New Jersey got the football first, quickly setting the tone. Luis Perez started, as DeAndre Johnson was still rehabbing an injury. A couple of big passes set the team up inside the red zone, and Darius Victor ran it in for his seventh rushing TD of the year, putting the Generals up 7-0.

Roland Rivers got the start for Pittsburgh, which was an interesting move considering Vad Lee was just learning the system. It worked out well on the first drive, however, as Rivers marched the team down the field swiftly. Roland eventually scrambled in from a few yards out, and the game was tied at 7.

After both offenses got off to a good start, it was time for both defensive units to make some plays. New Jersey was forced to punt the ball, but Pittsburgh’s offense stalled out quickly on their end as well. Heading into the second quarter, it was a 7-7 ball game.

Second Quarter

Without a doubt, the Generals boast one of the best ground games in the league. Darius Victor, Trey Williams, and KaVontae Turpin all got involved on this possession, picking apart the Maulers defense with ease. Victor eventually rumbled in for his second score of the day, putting New Jersey on top 14-7.

Despite converting on a fourth down attempt on their next drive, Roland Rivers was out of sync with his receivers. This resulted in Pittsburgh having to punt again, giving New Jersey a chance to pull away.

The Generals took advantage. A 90 yard drive resulted in another score, as Luis Perez found a cutting KaVontae Turpin, who darted into the endzone. With a few minutes left in the half, New Jersey led 20-7.

Pittsburgh caught a big break on their next possession. Chris Orr appeared to intercept Rivers, but he fumbled the ball immediately, and the Maulers recovered. However, they could not capitalize, punting the ball once again.

New Jersey put together another impressive drive, marching down the field despite being backed up inside their own ten yard line. Austin Jones banged through a 50 yarder as time expired, putting New Jersey in front 23-7 as we went into halftime.

Third Quarter

Pittsburgh got the football to start the second half, but looked completely out of sorts. A three and out gave the Generals the football right back. Even though 25 minutes remained in the game, it was beginning to feel like it was over.

The Maulers got a stop defensively, as Perez just missed his tight end on an important third down. Pittsburgh was finally able to put some more points on the board, in an unexpected way. Ramiz Ahmed absolutely nailed a 61 yard field goal, setting the USFL record and making it a 23-10 ball game.

Luis Perez put together a masterclass tonight, and that was evident throughout the game. His decision making was elite in the pocket, making the right reads, especially on third downs. With fifteen minutes left to play, New Jersey led 23-10 – and was in full control.

Fourth Quarter

Speaking of showing out – how about Darius Victor. After the Generals smoothly marched down the field again, Victor smashed his way in for the third time. A two point attempt was unsuccessful, but New Jersey still led 29-10.

Pittsburgh wouldn’t go away quietly, though. Roland Rivers finally started to find a rhythm, making the important plays. On a fourth and six, Rivers threw a dime to Delvon Hardaway, keeping the drive alive.

Unfortunately, the team could not convert on a fourth and goal, turning the ball over on downs. New Jersey’s defense continued to dial up the pressure, especially when Pittsburgh had an opportunity to score.

Pittsburgh’s defense stepped up to the challenge though, forcing a stop. A big return from Isaiah Hennie put the Maulers in an excellent position to score. Just a couple of plays later, Rivers found Hennie on a quick dart, who then took it the distance. After a successful two point conversion, Pittsburgh only trailed 29-18.

With six minutes left, Kirby Wilson decided to use the possession play – a 4th and 12 attempt in place of an onsides kick. Rivers delivered a strike to Jalen McCleskey, and Pittsburgh retained the football.

After getting into field goal range, the Maulers could not take advantage. A field goal try seemed to be tipped at the line, as the ball careened off the uprights.

Despite Roland Rivers coming into his own during the second half, it just wasn’t enough. New Jersey’s 19 point lead was too much for the Maulers to overcome, and they ultimately fell short. The Generals held on 29-18, winning their seventh straight game in a row.

Final Thoughts

New Jersey once again proved why they are arguably the best team in the USFL. Offensively, they dominated through the air and on the ground. Defensively, they effectively shut down Pittsburgh when they needed to, pulling ahead for a big win.

Darius Victor continues to be a menace, rushing for three touchdowns on the night. Luis Perez was spectacular, doing everything Mike Riley needed him to do – and more. If New Jersey continues to play like this, they absolutely will be in the Championship game on July 3rd.

With this win tonight, New Jersey clinched the North Division, improving to 7-1. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is officially eliminated from postseason contention, falling to 1-7 on the season.

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