UFL 2024 Week 3 roundup: Adrian Martinez-led Stallions are lone unbeaten team


by Eric Williams | FOXSports.com

In Week 3, Birmingham Stallions quarterback Adrian Martinez showed why he could end up being one of the most explosive playmakers in the UFL this season.

Making his first start for Birmingham on Saturday, Martinez made the most of the opportunity. He finished 18 of 28 (64.3%) for 334 passing yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.

Martinez is the first UFL quarterback to throw for over 300 yards this season. He also added another 44 yards rushing.

The Stallions (3-0) finished with nine plays of 20-plus yards, defeating the Memphis Showboats (1-2) in the team’s home-opener, 33-14. Birmingham unfurled the team’s back-to-back USFL title banner before the game. With the win, the Stallions became the only undefeated team remaining this season.

Deon Cain finished with seven receptions for 144 yards, while running back Ricky Person Jr. added 76 scrimmage yards and a score. Wide receiver Marlon Williams, who missed most of 2023 with a torn Achilles, caught a 41-yard touchdown, and tight end Jace Sternberger corralled a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage in the back of the end zone for a 6-yard score.

Matt Corral, who started the first two games of the year, did not play against the Showboats. "It was a decision made that it was going to be Adrian’s game," Stallions head coach Skip Holtz said afterward. "Matt was going to play a backup role if something happened to Adrian, but this was going to be his game. I think he earned that during the course of the week."

While the Stallions sizzled, the Showboats scuffled. Memphis QB Case Cookus finished with just 139 passing yards and was sacked five times. He was replaced by backup Troy Williams, who led the Pittsburgh Maulers to the USFL title game last season, in the fourth quarter.

Cookus has been sacked a UFL-high 11 times. The Showboats struggled running the football again, finishing with only 20 rushing yards. The Stallions finished with eight sacks defensively and have a league-high 17 sacks through three games.

Here’s a closer look at what else happened in Week 3.

Hakeem Butler breaks out, St. Louis hands San Antonio first loss

In the battle for the top spot in the XFL conference, the Battlehawks (2-1) thwarted San Antonio’s comeback bid this weekend and held on to defeat the Brahmas (2-1) in the Alamodome on Sunday, 31-24.

Big-bodied receiver Butler had his best game of the season, finishing with six receptions for 87 yards, including a 20-yard catch for a score. St. Louis QB A.J. McCarron finished 19 of 27 (70.4%) for 152 yards and completed passes to eight different players. He also ran for a 10-yard score.

San Antonio QB Chase Garbers completed 27 of 41 (65.9%) passes for 141 yards and one score.

Tight end Cody Latimer finished with seven receptions for 58 yards, while receiver Jontre Kirklin totaled eight receptions for 52 yards.

"We knew they would fight for four quarters," head coach Anthony Becht said. "That’s the biggest thing with our league, is you’ve got to finish and close the door when you get the opportunity. I’m glad today that our defense was able to do that."

E.J. Perry is the touchdown maker

The Michigan Panthers (2-1) signal-caller got his offense going Sunday, passing for 208 yards and rushing for another 60 in his team’s 34-20 runaway win over the visiting Houston Roughnecks (0-3).

The Brown product now has a league-leading four touchdowns on the season. Receiver Marcus Simms also continued to make big plays, taking a checkdown pass from Perry and breaking five tackles en route to a 66-yard reception for a score. Simms also had a 76-yard touchdown reception last week and owns the two longest touchdown plays from scrimmage in the UFL this season.

The Roughnecks must focus on playing clean football. Houston has had three punts blocked so far this season and leads the league in turnovers (five) and penalties (26). Making his first start, QB Reid Sinnett finished 19 of 28 (67.9%) for 197 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

DC Defenders rally past Arlington Renegades to earn second straight comeback win

Down 11 points with 2:08 remaining in regulation, the Defenders (2-1) didn’t stop battling, scoring 11 unanswered points for a 29-28 victory over the Renegades (0-3) on the road Saturday.

Defenders kicker Matthew McCrane finished 3 for 3 on field goals, including two from beyond 50 yards and a 49-yarder on the final play to seal the win. QB Jordan Ta’amu threw for 188 yards and two scores. He also led the Defenders in rushing with 55 yards. RB Cam’Ron Harris scored from a yard out to close Arlington’s edge to 28-26 with 48 seconds left.

The Defenders then went for the fourth-and-12 conversion play, and Ta’amu found Ty Scott down the right sideline for a 19-yard completion to keep the drive alive. Ta’amu then completed a 26-yard pass to Kelvin Harmon at Arlington’s 27-yard line with 33 seconds left, setting up McCrane for the game-winning field goal.

Kickers continue to make their mark in the UFL

McCrane wasn’t the only kicker to produce this weekend, as Showboats kicker Matt Coghlin nailed a 57-yard field goal.

Michigan kicker Jake Bates also continued to shine, making two field goals from 46 and 55 yards out. Bates is now 5 for 5 on the season, with four of those field goals coming from 50 yards and two from 60-plus yards.

Overall, UFL kickers have made 92.3% of their field goals this season. That's a far cry from the 68% of kickers who converted in the return of the USFL two years ago.

For perspective, NFL kickers converted 86% of their field goals during the 2023 regular season, including 69.5% from 50 yards and beyond. UFL kickers didn’t miss a field goal all weekend, finishing 19 for 19, including 5 for 5 beyond 50 yards.

Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him at @eric_d_williams.


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