UFL 2024 Week 7 roundup: Adrian Martinez continues impressive NFL audition


by Eric Williams | FOXSports.com

Here’s a closer look at some of the other storylines from Week 7

The Birmingham Stallions received their toughest test of the 2023 UFL season in Week 7, grinding out a 30-26 comeback win over the visiting St. Louis Battlehawks on Saturday at Protective Field.

The Stallions overcame some adversity in a game that had six lead changes, including three in the fourth quarter. Birmingham’s Drue Chrisman had a punt blocked at midfield with the game still in the balance, but the Stallions defense responded by keeping a potent St. Louis out of the end zone to seal the win.

Stallions return man Isaiah Zuber also muffed a punt that St. Louis recovered on Birmingham’s 7-yard line. The Battlehawks turned that miscue into a touchdown catch by Jacob Saylors.

"Even with all the mistakes, to score 30 points against that defense — which has been giving up 222 yards per game — I was really proud of our players and the way they fought," Birmingham head coach Skip Holtz said.

Stallions QB Adrian Martinez was the offensive catalyst for Birmingham, once again. The dual-threat signal-caller completed 21 of 33 passes for 230 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions. He also added a game-high 60 yards on the ground.

Headed into Week 8, Martinez leads the league in rushing yards (387), is second in touchdown passes (10) and is third in passing yards (1,202) — asserting himself as the frontrunner for league MVP honors with three regular-season games left.

Martinez has been a dynamic playmaker because of his ability to make things happen with his arm and his feet.

"I’m fortunate," Martinez said, when asked about his running ability. "I’m fortunate that the receivers understand that and the O-line understands that, and that allows me to continue to extend plays and guys get open. Sometimes it looks super unscripted, but we’ve practiced it before, and I think guys can expect it now when we play another team."

"Adrian came here to be a quarterback," Holtz added. "I think he’s doing a phenomenal job. He does have great feet, but he’s also got a great mind and he’s got a great arm, and he’s displaying that."

Birmingham improved to 7-0 with the win, extending the team’s winning streak to 14 games dating back to last season. St. Louis (5-2) dropped into a first-place tie with the San Antonio Brahmas (5-2), who secured a come-from-behind victory over the Houston Roughnecks (1-6).

Meanwhile, the Arlington Renegades secured their first win of the season with a statement win over the Memphis Showboats (1-6), and the Michigan Panthers (5-2) went on the road and defeated the DC Defenders (3-4).

Here’s a closer look at some of the other storylines from Week 7.

Panthers ground out a win over Defenders, clinch spot in the postseason

Michigan RB Matt Colburn finished with 137 yards on 16 carries, helping the Panthers post 187 total rushing yards in a convincing 22-9 win. With the win and losses by both Houston and Memphis, Michigan clinched a postseason berth into the USFL title game against Birmingham.

Starting QB Danny Etling did not play due to a hand injury on his non-throwing arm. The Panthers used a two-QB system of Brian Lewerke and Bryce Perkins with Etling out, and those two combined for 145 passing yards in the win.

Michigan kicker Jake Bates, already responsible for three field goals of 60-plus yards this season, made field goals of 51, 40 and 22 yards.

Roughnecks let one slip away against Brahmas

Houston’s defense dominated play for three quarters against San Antonio, but Brahmas head coach Wade Phillips changed quarterbacks from an ineffective Quinten Dormady to Kevin Hogan, which gave his team the spark needed to pull off a 15-12 comeback victory. With the loss, the Roughnecks were eliminated from playoff contention.

Brahmas kicker Ryan Santoso hit the game-winner — a 51-yard field goal as time expired. San Antonio trailed 12-3 with 12:37 remaining, as Houston took the lead on the strength of four JJ Molson field goals, including one from 62 yards out.

However, on Hogan’s first series, he marched San Antonio 67 yards on 18 plays in a drive that took over 10 minutes. RB John Lovett capped the drive with a 1-yard rushing score before the Brahmas tied the game on a 3-point conversion play, with Gogan finding tight end Cody Latimer over the middle.

On the ensuing possession, San Antonio's Bryce Thompson forced Houston return man Reggie Roberson to fumble, with Brahmas CB Teez Tabor recovering the ball at the Roughnecks’ 43-yard line, setting up Santoso’s heroics.

Renegades earn first UFL win

The reigning XFL champion Renegades finally won their first game of the UFL season, a 47-23 rout over visiting Memphis.

The league's leading passer, Arlington QB Luis Perez, completed 27 of 32 passes for 296 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions. RB De'Veon Smith finished with 101 yards and two scores for the Renegades.

The Showboats dropped their sixth game in a row, losing in those by an average of 15.7 points a contest. With the loss, Memphis also was eliminated from postseason contention.

Defenders reach .500 mark on Kelvin Harmon TD catch

With the game tied at 12-all and 7:30 remaining in the fourth quarter, Chris Rowland returned a kickoff 39 yards to put the Defenders in scoring position.

Five plays later, QB Jordan Ta’amu found Harmon for an acrobatic, 13-yard touchdown on a drag route for the game-winning score, giving the Defenders an 18-12 victory over the visiting San Antonio Brahmas (4-2).

Harmon finished with a game-high eight receptions for 101 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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