Philadelphia Stars Stuns New Jersey Generals In Thrilling Fashion; Advance To Championship

Philadelphia Stuns New Jersey In Thrilling Fashion; Advance To Championship

The USFL playoffs are officially upon us. A historical postseason kicked off today on FOX, with the New Jersey Generals taking on the Philadelphia Stars in Canton.

When these teams met in the regular season, New Jersey won both outings. In week three, the Generals topped the Stars 24-16, as DeAndre Johnson dominated. Then in week ten, Luis Perez and Trey Williams took it to Philadelphia’s defense, as Case Cookus’ late surge wasn’t enough.

However, both games were very entertaining from start to finish. With both of these teams boasting elite offensive units, this playoff matchup was bound to be excellent. Let’s take a look at what all went down in the USFL’s first postseason game.

First Quarter

Philadelphia got the football first, and looked solid to start. Case Cookus made multiple plays with his arm – and his legs, which put them in a scoring position.

The Generals did generate a stop, though, making Philly settle for a field goal. Luis Aguilar had to put the team on the board, knocking through a 39 yard attempt.

New Jersey didn’t look like themselves to open up the game. Philadelphia’s defense absolutely shut them down, forcing a quick punt.

However, their defense came up with a big stop. Hercules Ma’atafa took down Cookus in the backfield, which resulted in the Stars having to punt the ball back.

After one quarter of action, Philadelphia led 3-0 – but New Jersey was marching.

Second Quarter

The Generals put together a good march, but then things went downhill. Luis Perez was hit hard as he threw (roughing the passer was thrown originally, but reviewed and revoked) – and Mazzi Wilkins returned it inside New Jersey’s red zone.

After having excellent field position, Case Cookus took advantage, by pummeling Paris Ford as he barreled into the end zone himself.

Interestingly enough, New Jersey’s offense continued to have a hard time putting points on the board. While they put together some great drives, none resulted in any scores.

Philadelphia got another massive stop, this time on a fourth down, which kept the game at 10-0. Mike Riley rolled the dice, letting Darius Victor take it – but the Stars were ready for him.

Heading into halftime, the Philadelphia Stars held a ten point advantage over the New Jersey Generals.

Third Quarter

Things could not have gotten off to a worse start for New Jersey. Cameron Echels-Luper fumbled the ball while returning the kickoff, and Philadelphia recovered.

It wasn’t clear sailing for the Stars either. Matt Colburn went down with an injury quickly. Then, Cookus was blasted on a hit, getting injured – and throwing an interception right to Mike Bell Jr.

Luis Perez got the Generals going with a bomb to Darius Shepherd, who didn’t get taken down until reaching the Stars’ five yard line.

On fourth and goal, this time New Jersey got the job done. Darius Victor lowered his shoulder, and with some second efforts, found the goal line.

KJ Costello came in for an injured Cookus, and made an impact immediately. Costello found Chris Rowland deep down the sidelines, which ignited the Stars offense despite missing so many players.

But, New Jersey had a response. Paris Ford absolutely lit up Darnell Holland, forcing a fumble. Mike Bell recovered, and the Generals got the ball back.

That being said, New Jersey’s offense continued to struggle. New Jersey had to punt the ball again, as Philadelphia’s defense was shining bright.

Case Cookus somehow came back into the game for Philadelphia, and got right to work. Cookus dropped a 50 yard dime in the bucket for Diondre Overton, putting the Stars in great position.

With fifteen minutes left to play, the Stars were clinging to a 10-7 lead.

Fourth Quarter

Unfortunately for Philadelphia, points were left off the board again. Luis Aguilar missed a chip shot, which kept things at a three point deficit. However, New Jersey shot themselves in the foot with unnecessary penalties, which gave Philadelphia the ball back.

A couple of dropped passes from the Stars left them empty handed, and they had to punt. This turned out to hurt Philly, quite a bit. KaVontae Turpin, the USFL’s MVP, made defenders look silly as he took it to the house – putting New Jersey in front 14-10.

Case Cookus and Philly came out firing, though. A big pass to Jordan Suell set up the team nicely, in New Jersey territory. But, Trae Elston made a great open field tackle on Devin Gray, which made them have to settle for three. With several minutes left, the Generals led 14-13.

When Philadelphia’s defense needed a stop, they got it. Adam Rodriguez notched a massive sack on Luis Perez, which forced the Generals to punt. As we hit the two minute warning, the Stars had one final chance to punch their ticket to the Championship.

While Turpin has been the USFL’s bigtime returner this year, Maurice Alexander’s spectacular performances have flown under the radar…until now. He made one of the biggest plays of the entire year – returning the punt 88 yards to the house. This put Philadelphia on top 19-14, with very little time remaining.

Once again, Bart Andrus’ defense made a huge play to seal the deal. Rodriguez laid a huge hit on Perez, which led to an interception by Amani Dennis, a crushing turnover in the final moments.

Case Cookus took a knee, and the Stars won, 19-14.

Final Thoughts

What a way to kick off the USFL’s inaugural playoffs. If anyone was going to take down the mighty New Jersey Generals, it was going to be the Philadelphia Stars – and they did just that.

Case Cookus was excellent, despite dealing with so many injuries. But, the collective MVP of today’s game, was Philadelphia’s defense. All afternoon long they were spectacular, shutting down New Jersey’s offense time and time again.

With today’s stunning victory, Philadelphia will now face off against the Birmingham Stallions, or New Orleans Breakers in the USFL Championship next Sunday, at 7:30PM ET on FOX.

What did you think of New Jersey vs. Philadelphia? Are you enjoying the USFL’s playoffs in 2022? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!