BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The Birmingham Stallions have advanced to the championship game in the USFL’s inaugural season, after defeating the New Orleans Breakers in the semifinals to claim the South Division.
It was an ‘MVP’ like performance from quarterback J’Mar Smith, as he finished with 190 yards passing to go with 48 on the ground. Smith made big plays when the Stallions (10-1) needed them most. Christian McFarland led the Stallions in tackles with 11.
New Orleans’ (6-5) Kyle Sloter passed for a game-high 327 yards, 154 of those to Sal Cannella, who now owns the USFL single-game receiving record. Adonis Alexander also had 11 tackles.
New Orleans had good field possession on its first possession, starting at their own 42-yard line after taking advantage of a missed Birmingham field goal. On their first play from scrimmage, Sloter found Taywan Taylor for gain of 27 yards, moving the chains to the Birmingham 31. The drive continued for eight more plays capped by Jordan Ellis touchdown from the 1-yard line. Taylor Bertolet added the extra point to give the Breakers a 7-0 lead at the 7:25 mark of the first quarter.
Birmingham tied the game at 7-7 on its next possession, marching the ball 72 yards on 13 plays. On 3rd-and-8 from the Breakers’ 23-yard line, Smith connected with Osirus Mitchell for the touchdown on the second play of the second quarter.
The Stallions defense came up with the first big stop, when DeMarquis Gates intercepted Sloter and returned it 71 yards for a touchdown.
It was back-and-forth throughout the first half, until Victor Bolden Jr, with 1:06 remaining in the half, returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. The Stallions led at halftime 21-14.
After a long drive to start the second half, the Breakers settled for a field goal and Birmingham would respond with one of its own to start the fourth quarter.
Birmingham’s defense came up huge in the second half getting stops. The Stallions drove the ball down the field in the fourth and killed as much clock as possible, before Smith would score a touchdown with 39 seconds remaining to put the dagger in the Breakers season.
Stallions take on the Philadelphia Stars for the title on July 3, at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.