Panthers Defeat Defenders, 22-9, for Third Straight Win

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by Roman Bruno

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 12, 2024) – The Michigan Panthers extended their win streak to three games with a 22-9 victory over the DC Defenders at the nearly impenetrable Audi Field on Mother’s Day. The rushing attack continued to prove vital for the Panthers, who tallied 187 total yards and two scores on the ground. Matthew Colburn II led the way with 137 yards, with 107 coming in the first half.

 

Colburn II set a new Panthers individual game-high in rushing yards and tied a game-high in rushes (16), as well as totaling the third most rushing yards in a game in the UFL this season. 

 

For the third straight week, the Panthers opened the game with a touchdown. Despite being backed up and starting the drive on their own six-yard line, Michigan only needed five plays to hit paydirt. Matthew Colburn II broke off runs of 23 and 55 yards to break into the redzone, and Brian Lewerke finished the drive with a seven-yard rushing touchdown. Lewerke connected with Samson Nacua for the one-point conversion, and the Panthers led 7-0 in the opening minutes.

 

The Defenders drove into Michigan territory on their first possession of the game, but the drive stalled and settled for a 43-yard field goal attempt that Matt McCrane pushed wide right. 

 

Michigan found the endzone once again on the ensuing drive, this time with Bryce Perkins under center. Wes Hills picked up a rushing touchdown of his own for his fifth of the season.

 

The Panthers were unable to hold the Defenders scoreless in the first, as D.C. only needed one play to score. Jordan Ta’amu threw a 70-yard catch-and-run touchdown to Ty Scott to get them on the board and make it a one-score game. 

 

Michigan went three-and-out on offense to follow, but DaShaun White recovered a Defenders muffed punt at DC’s 21-yard line to give the Panthers new life. The Panthers could not take advantage, settling for a 51-yard Jake Bates field goal to give them a 10 point advantage.

 

Bates also tacked on a 22-yard field goal before halftime, and Michigan took a 19-6 lead into intermission.

 

Bates made his third field goal of the game midway through the third quarter, this time from 40 yards out. Colburn II, adding onto his monster day on the ground, picked up a run of 16 yards on the drive, in addition to a 13-yard scramble by Perkins.

 

Panthers defensive end Breeland Speaks wanted in on the action with a timely sack on Ta’amu for a loss of 11 yards on third down. Ta’amu was hurt on the play and did not return to the game. Speaks now has 5.5 sacks on the season, which ranks second in the league.

 

The Defenders added a field goal in the fourth quarter, but that was all Michigan’s defense allowed. Kenny Willekes picked up his third sack of the year to muffle any chance of a comeback.

 

Perkins completed 11-of-13 passes for 116 yards. Lewerke completed 5-of-13 passes for 37 yards. Ta’amu and McClendon of DC completed 19-of-28 passes for 177 yards and one touchdown.

 

Colburn II was Michigan’s leading rusher with 137 yards on 16 attempts. Keke Coutee was the leading rusher for the Defenders with one rush for 28 yards.

 

The leading receiver for Michigan was Samson Nacua with six receptions for 45 yards. Kelvin Harmon caught six balls for 37 yards for DC and five receivers had two catches for the Defenders, including Scott who finished with 87 yards and a score. 

 

With the win, the Panthers (5-2) will return home in Week 8 to take on the  Memphis Showboats (1-6) Saturday, May 18 at Ford Field. Kickoff is set for 4 PM ET on FOX. The Defenders (3-4) will travel to the St. Louis Battlehawks (5-2).

 

POSTGAME NOTES

  • Matthew Colburn II finished with 137 yards on 16 carries, both team-highs this season.
  • Colburn II’s rushing yards rank third in a single game this season in the UFL.
  • Breeland Speaks now has 5.5 sacks on the season, which ranks second in the UFL.
  • So far this season, the Michigan Panthers have used four different quarterbacks, which is the most in the league.
  • Michigan Kicker Jake Bates finished the game 3-for-3 and now leads the league with 15 made field goals.
  • Samson Nacua finished with personal best six receptions for 45 yards.

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