Stallions Rally Back, Beat Panthers 31-18 in USFL Conference Championship Game

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by Luke Adams

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (June 8, 2024) –The Birmingham Stallions (10-1) defeated the Michigan Panthers (7-4), 31-18, in the USFL Conference Championship Game on Saturday at Protective Stadium. The game had an attendance of 10,287.


The Stallions advance to the UFL Championship Game on Sunday, June 16 at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis (4 p.m. CT on FOX / FOX Sports on SiriusXM). The team will play the winner of tomorrow’s XFL Conference Championship Game featuring the St. Louis Battlehawks and the San Antonio Brahmas (6 p.m. CT on FOX / FOX Sports on SiriusXM).


The back-to-back USFL champions began the game on defense and saw the Panthers march down the field with a five-play scoring drive that took less than three minutes. QB Danny Etling would find WR Siaosi Mariner for a 35-yard touchdown, putting the visitors up 6-0 early. The Stallions stalled on their first possession of the game, turning the ball over on downs. Michigan PK Jake Bates converted field goals from 53 and 42 yards out, leaving Birmingham in a 12-0 hole after a forgettable opening quarter.


Playing motivated to start the second quarter, the Stallions offense went on an eight-play, 65-yard drive that got Birmingham on the board. PK Chris Blewitt knocked through a 23-yard field goal to make it 12-3, which was quickly matched by a 39-yarder from Bates. On the ensuing Stallions’ possession, a costly fumble by QB Adrian Martinez (forced by LB Noah Dawkins) turned into yet another Michigan field goal, this one coming from 25 yards out. Birmingham would only need one play on their succeeding drive, as Martinez connected with TE Jordan Thomas for a 50-yard touchdown, cutting the deficit to nine points. Another field goal by Blewitt from 43 yards away made it a 18-12 game at halftime.


The second half got off to a wild start, as there were a combined six turnovers between the two teams in the third quarter. Michigan had interceptions by CB Adonis Alexander and LB Javin White and a forced fumble by DT Walter Palmore. Birmingham had a forced fumble by DE Dondrea Tillman and interceptions by CBs Ike Brown and Daniel Isom. Isom’s interception was a 48-yard pick six, which knotted the game up at 18 a piece heading into the final quarter.


Stallions backup QB Matt Corral would be responsible for the go-ahead score in the fourth, as he found WR Amari Rodgers for a seven-yard touchdown, giving them their first lead of the game at 24-18. Following a blocked field goal by Birmingham on the next drive, RB Ricky Person Jr. found paydirt on a 15-yard pass from Corral. A successful one-point conversion reception by Thomas gave the Stallions a 31-18 advantage. Brown’s second interception of the day would ice things away for Birmingham, with their eyes set on a three-peat.

GAME NOTES


  • The Birmingham Stallions and head coach Skip Holtz have now won their respective division/conference championship game for three straight seasons (USFL South Division Champions in 2022-23; USFL Conference Champions in 2024). They will make their third straight league championship game appearance, coming off back-to-back USFL Championships in 2022-23. Holtz and Birmingham are undefeated (5-0) in the postseason all-time.
  • The Stallions outgained the Panthers in total yards (365-253), including both passing yards (269-173) and rushing yards (96-80). They picked up 18 first downs and came up with four takeaways on the day.
  • Birmingham scored 28 unanswered points over the final 30 minutes and 53 seconds of the game. The Stallions won their 10th game of the season, marking three straight seasons that they have reached double-digit victories.
  • Cornerback Ike Brown became the first player in the UFL to have multiple interceptions in a game this season, as he picked off quarterback Danny Etling in the third and fourth quarter.

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