1985 USFL Championship Game
Baltimore Stars -vs- Oakland InvadersSunday Night, July 14th at Giants Stadium, The Meadowlands
The Michigan Panthers defeated the Philadelphia Stars in the first USFL Championship Game in 1983 thanks to the sparkling play of two rookies, quarterback Bobby Hebert and wide receiver Anthony Carter. Michigan ended the 1984 season with a triple overtime playoff loss to the LA Express in the Coliseum. The Pnathers merged with the Oakland Invaders prior to the 1985 campaign, and Hebert and Carter became starters for Oakland. They helped the Invaders to the USFL Western Conference title and a chance to claim a USFL Championship of their own.
The Panthers' opponent would be the Baltimore Stars. Following the announced move to the fall for the 1986 season, the Stars moved from Philadelphia to Baltimore. The Stars used their office space in Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium while playing their games in Maryland. Philadelphia City Officals forced the team out of their offices during the season, taking chalk boards during a practice session. For the most part, Baltimore ignored the Stars. The Stars had to travel almost three hours to play home games at Byrd Stadium on the University of Maryland campus because Baltimore's Memorial Stadium couldn't accept them until 1986. At one point during the season, the Stars had an uncharacteristic .500 record at 6-6-1 and didn't look close to a championship football club. But Baltimore sneaked into the playoffs and caught fire during the post season to make their third straight USFL Championship Game appearance under Head Coach Jim Mora.
Talk about the future of the USFL was hot all season long. The USFL planned to shift from spring play to the fall and direct competion with the National Football League. Invader QB Bobby Hebert becomes a free agent on August 1st. Hebert appears to be headed to the NFL because Hebert reached an agreement with Oakland to let him go right away. Hebert plans to meet with Chuck Knox of the Seattle Seahawks less than 48 hours after the USFL Championship Game. Also interested are the Raiders and Saints. Hebert's big play receiver Anthony Carter appears to be leaping over to the NFL. Carter has one year left on his contract with Oakland, but might buy his way out to play in his home state with the Miami Dolphins. Oakland also could lose All-USFL defensive back David Greenwood. The Giants and Raiders are talking trade with the Saints who have Greenwood's rights. Players from the USFL would go into the NFL without an off-season break. Baltimore nose tackle Pete Kugler, who joined the Stars after an 83 NFL Championship Game with the 49ers, played with the Stars without a break, nearly destroying himself physically.
With all the doom and despair surrounding the season, the 1985 Championship Game was an exciting contest that was up for grabs until the very end. A good crowd of 49,263 attended the final USFL contest that started with rain pounding the Meadowlands artifical surface. The rain was a blessing for Baltimore and its ball control offense featuring the running of Kelvin Bryant, while the weather hampered the big play Hebert to Carter passing attack. Hebert and Stars quarterback Chuck Fusina said that the new footballs used for the big game got slick and were difficult to throw. That could be part of the reason why Invader strong safety David Greenwood scored on a 44 yard interception return in the first half. The Stars contained Anthony Carter in the opening half, allowing Carter only a four yard grab.
Carter, though, began to provide spark to Oakland's offense in the second half. He put the Invaders in front 24-21 with a seven yard touchdown catch from Hebert just before the start of the 4th quarter. Baltimore regained the lead with a 49 yard drive capped by a 7 yard touchdown run by Kelvin Bryant with 8 minutes and 15 seconds left to go. Oakland started its final drive, down by four points, from its own five yard line. Oakland made its way to the Baltimore five yard line. Facing third down and two, Oakland Running Back Tom Newton was penalized 15 yards for a personal foul against Stars' cornerback Jonathan Sutton. Oakland Coach Charlie Sumner was upset that such a great game would come down to a scuffle. The penalty forced Oakland back to the Baltimore 20 with only enough time for Hebert to attempt two passes into the end zone, both of which fell incomplete to Gordon Banks. The Stars had the ball and their second consecutive USFL Championship.
Baltimore 7 14 0 7 - 28 Oakland 7 7 10 0 - 24 BAL- Fitzkee 16 yard pass from Fusina (Trout kick) OAK- Greenwood 44 yard interception return (Bojovic kick) BAL- Bryant 7 yard run (Trout kick) OAK- Williams 1 yard run (Bojovic kick) BAL- Bryant 17 yard run (Trout kick) OAK- Bojovic 19 yard field goal OAK- Carter 7 yard pass from Hebert (Bojovic kick) BAL- Bryant 7 yard run (Trout kick) BAL OAK first downs 19 16 rushes-yards 31-150 25-155 passing yards 124 177 return yards 116 99 comp-att-int 15-26-1 14-30-2 sacks by-yards 1-10 3-31 punts 4-39 4-46 fumbles-lost 2-1 1-0 penalties-yards 4-28 8-60 time of possession 28:34 31:26 Individual Stats Rushing BAL- Bryant 23-103, Riley 3-25, Worthy 1-11, Harvin 3-8, Fusina 1-3 OAK- Williams 13-96, Bentley 10-38, Hebert 1-19, Newton 1-2 Passing BAL- Fusina 15-26-1-155 OAK- Hebert 14-30-1-187 Receiving BAL- Bryant 5-56, Collier 4-45, Fitzkee 2-27, Donovan 2-9, Dunek 1-9, Riley 1-9 OAK- Carter 5-74, Bentley 4-41, Holloway 2-37, Banks 2-27, Bergmann 1-8 Missed Field Goals BAL- Trout 55 Attendance- 49,263