Showboats Outlast Roughnecks, 18-12


by Andy Seeley

HOUSTON, Texas (March 31, 2024) – The Memphis Showboats jumped out to an early lead and held off the Houston Roughnecks 18-12 Sunday afternoon at Rice Stadium in both teams’ United Football League season-opener.

Memphis (1-0) opened the scoring with a 27-yard field goal from Matt Coghlin with 4:31 left in the first quarter. The Showboats would extend their lead in exciting fashion just 49 seconds later. Houston (0-1) saw disaster strike as wide receiver Isiah Hennie caught a short pass in the left flat, where he was met by Showboats defensive back Kyree Woods, who forced a fumble. Christian McFarland scooped the loose ball up and returned it 12 yards for a touchdown and a 9-0 Memphis lead.

Another highlight play gave the Showboats a 15-0 lead with 6:57 remaining in the first half. Quarterback Case Cookus drove Memphis from its own 16-yard line all the way to the Houston 11. But the Showboats faced 3rd-and-8. That’s when Cookus was able to find wide receiver Vinny Papale in the back of the end zone. Papale hauled in an absolute laser from Cookus, while barely keeping his toes inbounds.

Houston finally got on the scoreboard late in the first half with a field goal to make it 15-3. The Roughnecks added another three off the foot of J.J. Molson early in the third quarter to make it a 15-6 game. Memphis’ Matt Coghlin answered with a 51-yarder midway through the fourth quarter to give the Showboats a two-score lead. But his ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, which is a huge penalty in the UFL. Houston took over at the 50-yard line due to that penalty and cashed it in with the only Roughnecks’ touchdown of the game to pull within six, 18-12, with 5:49 remaining.

Memphis was able to kill most of the clock, but was forced to punt with 46 seconds remaining. Hennie mishandled the high arcing kick off the foot of Matt White and Wes Saxton recovered it for the Showboats to preserve the victory.

Cookus was 23-of-40 for 204 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Daewood Davis hauled in a game-high seven receptions for 43 yards. Jonathan Adams had a game-best 49 yards receiving on four catches. Papale also had four receptions for 36 yards and the Showboats’ lone offensive touchdown.

Memphis’ defense made clutch plays when needed all afternoon. The Showboats tallied four sacks. Greg Reaves got to Guarantano twice, while Maximiillian Roberts and Jordan Ferguson also registered a sack apiece. T.J. Neal led a balanced effort on the defensive side, racking up four solo stops. Ten different Showboat defenders had two or more stops.


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