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Maulers Get 1st Win Thanks to Foot of Chris Blewitt

In Week 3 action of the USFL, both Canton Hub teams made the trek north to Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. After going head to head in Week 2 action, the Generals were riding the wave of their first victory of the 2023 campaign while the Maulers were left searching for answers and their first victory.

In the early game, the Maulers faced off with the 1-1 Philadelphia Stars. The Maulers made a change at Kicker between weeks 2 and 3, bringing in Chris Blewitt. Blewitt has spent some time in the NFL, first signed as an undrafted free agent with the Chicago Bears in 2019 after finishing his collegiate career at the University of Pittsburgh. He has also spent time with the Washington Football Team (Commanders) and Cleveland Browns (his only regular season experience coming in Washington). Most notable due to his unfortunate surname given his position, the former Panther joins the Maulers as they look for any boost to their anemic offense. It didn't take long for Blewitt to provide that jolt as he connected on two long field goals (46 & 50 yards) in the opening quarter. After 1 quarter of play, the Maulers trailed 7-6, as Michigan QB Case Cookus found Corey Coleman on a 24-yard touchdown reception.

With 8:37 remaining in the 1st half, Blewitt connected once more, this time from 24 yards out to give the Maulers a 9-7 lead. Last week, Coach Ray Horton stated you need more than 3's to win in football, but multiples of 3's can serve as an elixir to a struggling offense. Special teams remained the Maulers best offense later in the 2nd quarter as Isiah Hennie returned a Stars punt 53 yards to the Stars 20-yard line, giving the Maulers offense the ball in the red zone with 6:22 left in the 2nd quarter. The offense struggles remained, with the Maulers again relying on the foot of Blewitt to extend their lead to 12-7 on a 34-yard field goal with 4:22 left in the half. The Stars were able to close the gap on a 23-yard field goal from Luis Aguilar before the half, making the halftime score 12-10 in favor of Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh opened the second half with a nice time-consuming drive that ended, how else, with a Chris Blewitt 35-yard field goal. The field goal was historic, as it placed Blewitt alone atop the USFL (including the 1980s version of the league) leaderboard for successful field goals in a game.

Chris Blewitt stats from Week 3 (Graphic Credit: Pittsburgh Maulers)

The Maulers defense came up strong in the latter stages of the 3rd quarter on a textbook strip sack by defensive lineman Olive Sagapolu that was recovered by fellow lineman Boogie Roberts. The recovery set up the Maulers at the Stars' 18-yard line, setting up the Maulers first offensive touchdown of the season, after completing nearly 11 quarters of play. The touchdown pass from Troy Williams to wideout Bailey Gaither made the score 21-10, which it would remain after Blewitt hit the left upright on his extra point attempt.

In the early stages of the 4th quarter, Stars QB Case Cookus connected on a couple of nice passes of 17 yards to Diondre Overton and a 20-yarder to Coleman. The Philadelphia drive would stall there, and they would again turn to Luis Aguilar to cut the lead to 21-13 on a 48-yard field goal. With the Stars driving after a fumble recovery, Cookus was hit by Boogie Roberts as he threw, causing the ball to flutter in the air and give Mauler linebacker Reuben Foster plenty of time to settle under it to haul in the momentum-changing interception. The Maulers however weren't able to get much going on offense and the Stars took the ball over looking to drive the ball to the end zone for an opportunity to tie the game.

With just over 3 minutes remaining in the game, Cookus dropped back on 1st and 10 and looked downfield to connect on a big gain but ended up overthrowing his attempt into triple coverage, with the ball ultimately being hauled in by Mauler defender Eli Walker.

The Stars defense gave Cookus one more opportunity with 1:42 left in the 4th. Cookus and the Stars took advantage of Pittsburgh going with a prevent defense and dink and dunked their way into the red zone, where with 7 seconds left in the game, on a 4th down do-or-die play, Cookus was unable to connect with Corey Coleman in the end zone (Coleman was flagged for pass interference but the penalty was declined). All that was left after that was a final kneel down out of victory formation by Williams and the Maulers gave Head Coach Ray Horton his first victory.

Blewitt, Foster named USFL Players of the Week for Week 3

Chris Blewitt Named Special Teams Player of Week (Graphic Credit: USFL)

In his first USFL action, not only did Chris Blewitt set a record, he also gained recognition by being named Special Teams Player of the Week for his efforts. Blewitt wasn't the only Pittsburgh honoree of the weekly recognition as Reuben Foster parlayed his 10 tackle, 1 interception performance into the Defensive Player of the Week honor.

Reuben Foster Named Defensive Player of the Week (Graphic Credit: USFL)

Up Next

The Maulers return home to Tom Benson Stadium to take on the South Divisions Birmingham Stallions (2-1) on May 7. Kickoff is set for 6:30 PM and will be broadcast nationally on FS1.



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