Pittsburgh Maulers Edge Out Houston Gamblers to Secure First Win

Pittsburgh Maulers Edge Out Houston Gamblers to Secure First Win

Rounding out the action for the USFL this week is the Houston Gamblers and Pittsburgh Maulers.

Houston came out on top in the first week against the Michigan Panthers, but since then have struggled to find another win. Pittsburgh has still failed to secure a victory, but with the Gamblers second half issues they may be able to capitalize.

Clayton Thorson comes into this matchup leading the league in passing touchdowns, and will need to build upon that if they want to come out on top. The Maulers are switching things up at QB, releasing Josh Love and bringing Vad Lee into the Mix.

1st Quarter

Kyle Lauletta and the Pittsburgh Maulers will start the game out receiving the ball, with Houston deferring after winning the coin toss.

It looked like it may be a quick three and out, but Lauletta found Gaither to move the chains and put them in scoring position. The Gamblers defense came out on the next play, to push them back a bit and redeem some of those yards.

Lauletta couldn’t find his footing, missing all of his attempt after the sack bringing out heir kicking unit.

Clayton Thorson now had his first chance to lead his team on the field. After missing a couple passes, Mark Thompson came out big with play giving them a huge first down. Thorson then aired it out to Isaiah Zuber for the first Gamblers touchdown of the afternoon. With the extra-point they now lead the Maulers 7-0 early.

Not much changed with Pittsburgh back on the field. Lauletta was almost picked on his third down attempt, but got lucky that they only had to settle for a punt.

It looked like it might be a quick drive for Houston, but Tyler Palka came in with a huge reception to keep the drive going.

Houston was now near their own 30, but would start the second quarter looking to convert on third down.

2nd Quarter

The Gamblers couldn’t start the second with a touchdown, but they were in scoring position. Nick Vogel came in for Coach Sumlin and knocked it in from 45-yards out to give them a 10-0 lad.

Vad Lee would now come on the field for the first time this season, hoping to change the Maulers luck this season. In a possible sign of things to come, Lee was successful on his first attempt.

Things were definitely looking a lot better on offense for Pittsburgh, but the Houston defense still came out with passion.

When stuck at 3rd & 15, Lee went long but the pass was a bit too high for his receiver.

Coach Wilson brought his kicking unit out, this time from 51-yards out. Ramiz Ahmed, who missed earlier, came out and did his team right. His attempt would make it a one possession game for the Maulers.

Thorson couldn’t get anything going on his next drive ultimately being forced to give it back to Pittsburgh.

Vad Lee had another chance to built upon his initial drive, and hoping to tie things up. Once again, Lee seemed to be the spark this team needed on offence.

With less than three minutes to go in the half they were will within striking distance with a fresh set of downs.

Lee tried hi best to keep the drive going, running it himself on 3rd and long, but couldn’t move the chains.

Ramiz Ahmed came out for the third time this afternoon, this time from 22-yards out. He was able to find the uprights to chisel away at the Gamblers lead.

The Gamblers had plenty of time to try and extend their lead before the half. It looked as they may be stalling, but Isaiah Zuber came up big again getting good yards after the catch to bring them past mid-field.

Thorson couldn’t get another set of downs, even trying to get it on his own. Nick Vogel came in, but was no good from 47-yards out, giving the Maulers another chance with time running out in the half.

Surprisingly, they were able to play a full set of downs. Even though, it wasn’t enough to put them in a position to add points. Penalties forced the Maulers to punt it away twice, and on the third attempt the punter kneeled to ball to head to halftime.


3rd Quarter

Clayton Thorson and the Gamblers would have a chance to build upon their slim lead to start the second half. Isaiah Zuber once again came in clutch for Houston with a huge kickoff return.

Even with the field position, Thorson was not able to move the chains. They were close on third down, but could only secure 9-yards. Coach Sumlin opted to keep the offense on the field and go for it. Luckily for them, Mark Thompson was able to run it in for the first down and then some to keep the drive going.

It looked like the Gamblers may have to settle for a field goal, but a Pittsburgh pass interference puts them at the 1. Thorson wasted no time, fighting his way into the end-zone on the next play to grab another touchdown. The extra-point extended their lead to 17-6 over the Maulers.

Vad Lee now back in the game, continued to build on his start. He was heard on the sidelines telling Coach Wilson he wanted a touchdown, so it was now down to him.

This drive looked to be his best so far this afternoon. Time and time again, he was able to move the chains by air.

Pittsburgh was now within 15-yards of their first touchdown, but the Gamblers defense was too much for them to handle. Ramiz Ahmed came out again, and thi time grabbed three from 24-yards.

Clayton Thorson wasn’t letting off the gas. He was determined to add to their lead and bring home another win. When presented with 3td & 9, Thorson ran it himself to move the chains.

4th Quarter

Houston would start the final quarter with a fresh set of downs near mid-field. On the second play, Thorson was picked off giving Pittsburgh another chance to stay alive.

This was a quick drive for Pittsburgh, with the Houston defense coming out strong and forcing a punt.

Thorson couldn’t get much going, ultimately giving it back to the Maulers.

Still a one possession game, Vad Less had a chance to get the team’s first win. Unfortunately for them, Will Likely did what he does best and picked him off giving the Gamblers the ball again.

Houston still couldn’t find their rhythm, once again giving Pittsburgh possession with a punt. Vad Lee didn’t fare any better on his next drive, resulting in the same outcome.

Thorson continued to struggle in the second half, ending the drive fumbling it away with Pittsburgh recovering.

Vad Lee would start only 26-yards way from the end-zone, giving them a great chance to add points. The first play saw them lose four, but recovered on the next play via Bradley Gaither. Vad Lee secured his first touch down, and Coach Wilson wanted two to tie it up.

They couldn’t convert, but they were now within two of the Gamblers with plenty of time to go.

Houston came on the field with two goals in mind, run the clock and add some points. Teo Redding did his part by making an amazing one handed catch to keep the drive going.

Thorson couldn’t grab another touchdown, but they were able to get Vogel into position. He was able to grab three from 44-yards to make it a five point game.

With a touchdown, Vad Lee could secure the lead and possibly the game. The Maulers fate almost certainly relied on this drive. Lee continued to target Gaither, in hopes to get the chains moving.

At the two-minute warning, Pittsburgh was sitting at 3rd down with six yards to go. Tre Walker was able to secure enough yards to keep the dream alive for Pittsburgh, but time was running out.

The Maulers secured another first down with 50-seconds to go, stopping the clock near the 30. They were able to edge closer and closer to the end-zone keeping their chances alive. With 4-seconds to go, with the game on the line, Coach Wilson consulted with Lee to get his take on the play.

He was able to make it happen by connecting with Bradley Gaither for his second touchdown of the afternoon. The Maulers are winless no more! This was their first lead in 13 quarters, and lead them to their first victory of the season.

Houston started the season with a win, and now that we’re at the halfway point of the inaugural season they continue to look for another. They looked much better this week, but it could be said that it was more about who they were playing. The Gamblers move to 1-4 on the season, and the Maulers finally secure their fist victory.

Vad Lee was definitely a nice addition to the Maulers rosters, and it may be just what they were looking for. This is a positive step in the right direction, and may be the change they needed to turn their season around. It just may be a little too late, we’ll just need to see how things unfold in the north.

Now that we’re halfway through the USFL season, which teams do you think we’ll see in the playoffs? Let us know down in the comments down below or join the conversation on Discord.