Birmingham 10 at Philadelphia 201984 Semifinals - Sunday, July 8, 1984
Attendance: 26,616, TV: ABC
PHILADELPHIA(AP) - Linebacker George Cooper, who recovered a fumble to set up the Philadelphia Stars' first touchdown, said he was not at his best But he promised he would be next week.
Cooper's fumble recovery put the Birmingham Stallions in a hole early as the Stars captured a 20-10 United States Football League playoff victory on Sunday. That earned them a return trip to the USFL championship game, which they lost last year 24-22 to Michigan. Next Sunday, Philadelphia opposes Arizona in Tampa, Fla , for the 1984 title.
"This wasn't my best game. I want my best game to be next week," Cooper said
"I don't care who we're playing next week I'm just glad we have the opportunity to play," added Stars Coach Jim Mora, whose team's two playoff triumphs raised its record to 18-2.
Mora praised his team's defense, which has given up an average of just 12 points a game, as the key to the victory over the Stallions. Birmingham quarterback Cliff Stoudt, playing with a bruised shoulder, was sacked six times, a Stars' record and intercepted three times.
The Stars also took advantage of two Birmingham fumbles as they roared to a 20- 0 halftime lead on two Kelvin Bryant touchdowns and two David Trout field goals. The Stallions did not score until the fourth quarter, and crossed midfield only once before halftime.
"We wanted to get on them early because they are not a real good team in coming back," said Bryant, who finished with 152 yards on 28 carries He had 141 yards in the first half, when the Stars outgained the Stallions 272-72, and scored on two short runs.
The first touchdown came after Cooper recovered Ron Frederick's fumbled punt return at the Stallions' 42-yard line, setting up Bryant's 2 yard run and a 7-0 lead with 6:22 left in the first quarter.
Bryant almost scored another touchdown after Antonio Gibson recovered a fumble by the Stallions' Joe Cribbs at the Stars' 40. Bryant ran 54 yards dropped the ball and picked it up, then lost it again and Birmingham's Mike Perko recovered it for a touchback in the end zone.
The Stallions took over on their own 20 and drove 23 yards, but Mike Lush intercepted Stoudt to set up a 21 yard field goal by Trout that gave the Stars a 10-0 lead with 5 44 left in the half.
Gibson hauled down another Stoudt pass and returned the ball to the Stallions' 27, and Bryant raced 26 yards on the next play, then leaped over from the 1 to score with 4 09 left in the half.
A 28-yard Trout field goal 15 seconds before intermission made it 20-0.
The Stallions, 15-5, scored on a 39-yard field goal by Danny Miller with 11:03 left in the game and a 7 yard pass from Stoudt to Jim Smith with 6 45 left.
"They took us out of our game plan early with the fumble on the punt return ,“ said Birmingham Coach Rollie Dotsch "One mistake of ours led to another, but we were up against a very solid defensive team."
Stoudt said the first half was the story of the game.
"We were in the hole right away with our mistakes, just like the last time we played them, "he said.
"I just have an empty feeling," added Stoudt, who was the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback in the 1984 National Football League season "I've been playing for 50 weeks and there's nothing to do tomorrow."