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Alex McGough to Deon Cain Too Much for Maulers Defense; Stallions take USFL crown with 28-12 Victory

Canton, OH - Yesterday at USFL Championship Media Day, Birmingham Stallions Head Coach Skip Holtz compared football adages:

Offense Wins Games, Defense Wins Championships, is tomorrow a game or a championship? We will find out tomorrow.

The Pittsburgh Maulers won the toss and elected to receive, as opposed to deferring and going "mano y mano", 1st ranked Defense against the Stallions 1st ranked offense. The Maulers opening drive was their best on the day, going 16 plays covering 61 yards and taking 9:33 off the game clock, but it was far from a perfect drive, as the offense got to a goal to go situation and was unable to reach the end zone, settling for a patented Chris Blewitt field goal.

From there, as they say in boxing, 'The Main Event' was upon us. The Maulers took round 1, stonewalling Alex McGough on a 4th and 2 run attempt off the left side of the line. Former NFL 1st Round Pick Reuben Foster entered the Stallions backfield like a heat seeking missel to stop McGough dead in his tracks. However, the Maulers offense was not able translate the potential game altering play into points.

The Maulers lead wasn't safe for much longer, as the Stallions would score on their next possession of the game with a drive capping 42 yard touchdown pass from Alex McGough to WR Davion Davis. The Maulers were able to close the gap on their ensuing drive when Chris Blewitt connected on a 36 yarder. Again, the drive was time consuming for the Maulers as it took 7:38 off the clock, but the end result is what truly matters and the offense again left points on the field.

In the regular season match-up between these two teams in Canton during week 4, Alex McGough scored on a bootleg run to the right as time expired, stretching the ball inside the pylon before falling out of bounds to sway the momentum heading into the half. With just under 3 minutes remaining on the 2nd quarter clock when the Stallions took possession following the Blewitt boot, could it be "Deja Vu all over again"?

The end result was the same, but the journey there was different. This time, McGough found Deon Cain in the back of the end zone with 31 seconds left on the first half clock. With Pittsburgh taking the opening kickoff, Birmingham was set to receive the opening kick of the 2nd half with a 14-6 lead. Pittsburgh was able to run a successful expediated 2 minute drill to get the ball in Chris Blewitt's range, as the kicker sailed another FG through the uprights as time expired on the half, this time from 55 yards out.

The Stallions took the opening kick of the 2nd half and didn't take long to extend their lead, with McGough finding Cain once more, this time for a 20 yard touchdown catch. The back and forth would continue, as the Maulers would once more rely on the right leg of Blewitt, this time from 51 yards out, to shrink the Stallions lead to 21-12. That was the closest the Maulers could get to closing the gap.

The game was clean on both sides for much of the game. As has been the case for much of the year for the Maulers, they would need a big spark from their defense to attempt to ignite the offense. That spark came when Alex McGough scrambled backwards nearly 30 yards on a 3rd and Goal hoping to give his receivers extended time to get open before being stripped by Reuben Foster and hauled in by Olive Sagapolu. Sagapolu would start his trot towards the end zone before running out of gas near the 30 yard line and handing the ball to teammate Eli Walker to finish the job and give the Maulers a chance to tie the game with a USFL special 3 point conversion. However, after further review, it was determined that Walker was ahead of Sagapolu making the exchange an illegal forward "pass" and the penalty placed the ball back at the Stallions 33 yard line. Blewitt would again attempt a field goal as a result, this time from 48 yards out.

In the 4th quarter, it was League MVP Alex McGough connecting with eventual Championship Game MVP Deon Cain for their third scoring connection, this one from 40 yards out. It was a spectacular throw and catch, as McGough was scrambling to his right before launching the ball towards the right sideline in the endzone and Cain fending off the defender and falling to his knees to haul it in, giving the Stallions a 28-12 lead that the Maulers would not be able to shrink.

Turns out, despite the title being on the line, Saturday night at Tom Benson Stadium was just another game.


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