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 Birmingham Stallions

UFL 2024 Week 2 Roundup: Ball-Hawking Defense Lifts Stallions to 2-0 Start

April 10, 2024 - United Football League (UFL)
Birmingham Stallions News Release

Skip Holtz and the Birmingham Stallions are known for their dynamic offense, but it's their defense that has served as the catalyst for their hot start in the United Football League this season.

The Stallions forced two turnovers in a road contest against the Michigan Panthers (1-1) in Week 2, converting both of those miscues into six points in the team's 20-13 victory at Ford Field.

Birmingham held Michigan to 205 total yards, with the Panthers finishing just 2 of 10 on third downs. Cornerback Lorenzo Burns led Birmingham with seven combined tackles. Defensive linemen Carlos Davis (four combined tackles, 2.0 sacks) and Taco Charlton (3.0 sacks) were the leaders up front, as Birmingham finished with 7.0 total sacks.

"I thought defensively we played an excellent football game," Holtz said. "We kept the ball in front of us [and] managed the game extremely well. I'm just really proud of the way they played."

After suffering a foot injury last week, Stallions QB Adrian Martinez got more of an extended look and made the most of the opportunity. Martinez led Birmingham with 66 rushing yards and completed 8 of 15 passes for 88 yards.

Once again, Matt Corral got the start for Birmingham, finishing 5 of 12 for 53 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. Holtz said he'll continue to get snaps for both players. The Stallions finished just 1 of 6 in the red zone on offense.

Michigan's lone touchdown was a 76-yard reception by Marcus Simms from EJ. Perry on a go route, the longest play in the UFL so far this season.

The win left Birmingham as one of two undefeated teams remaining in the UFL. The other one, the San Antonio Brahmas, also improved to 2-0 with a come-from-behind victory on the road over the Memphis Showboats (1-1).

Here's a closer look at what else happened around the league in Week 2.

Jake Bates strikes again, nails 62-yard field goal

After making a 64-yarder on his first field goal attempt since high school last week - the eventual game-winner to defeat the St. Louis Battlehawks - Bates continued his spectacular start to the season by connecting on a 62-yard field goal at the end of the first half against the Stallions.

Only one kicker in the NFL has made back-to-back field goals in consecutive weeks from 60 yards or longer: former Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher in Weeks 6 and 7 of the 2019 season, according to ESPN. Maher made those kicks from 62 and 63 yards.

Bates also hit a ho-hum, 53-yard field goal in the second half. Both times, Bates heard cheers from the crowd as he took the field, including chants of "We Want Jake!" before he made the 62-yarder just before halftime.

"He's very calm, very cool and very consistent," head coach Mike Nolan said. "That goes for practice as well. Those are the things I see all the time. He's calm and cool from long range - he has a lot of very positive things about him."

Record crowd witnesses late-game win for Battlehawks

The Battlehawks set a modern spring football attendance record with 40,317 fans at The Dome at America's Center in St. Louis for the team's home opener.

Those in attendance got an entertaining, back-and-forth game that featured four lead changes in the second half. However, the Battlehawks(1-1) earned a 27-24 victory over the Arlington Renegades (0-2) when kicker Andre Szmyt hit a 22-yard chip-shot field goal as time expired.

St. Louis receiver Marcell Ateman finished with a game-high 111 receiving yards, including a 53-yard touchdown reception. QB AJ McCarron completed 19 of 29 passes for 248 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

"I was with Marcell when I got traded to Oakland," McCarron said about the chemistry between the two that developed when the two were with the Raiders. "We would tear up our starting defense when we were running scout team."

Running back Mataeo Durant provided balance with 104 rushing yards. Defensively, edge rusher Pita Taumoepenu led St. Louis with five combined tackles and 2.0 sacks.

Brahmas' 20 fourth-quarter points stun Showboats

Memphis was in control of the game most of the way as defensive coordinator Carnell Lake's group held San Antonio star QB Chase Garbers and the Brahmas scoreless for three quarters.

However, the Brahmas erupted for 20 points in the fourth quarter, slipping past the Showboats, 20-19, at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium. San Antonio scored 12 points within the final minute of the game.

Garbers connected with Jontre Kirklin for a 5-yard touchdown pass with 48 seconds left. Then, they went for the fourth-and-12 conversion play to retain possession, and Garbers found Kirklin over the middle for just enough yards to move the chains. Seven plays later, Garbers scrambled right and found tight end Cody Latimer for the game-winner on a 10-yard connection with three seconds remaining.

Garbers finished 29 of 40 for 287 yards and three scores. Latimer paced San Antonio with eight catches for 91 yards.

Memphis head coach John DeFilippo lamented afterward that his team finished 1 of 6 in the red zone on offense, settling for too many field goals. "You're not going to win a lot of games when you're 1-for-6 in the red zone," he said. "We've got to get it fixed down there."

Jordan Ta'amu leads DC Defenders to victory over Houston Roughnecks

Down double digits in the fourth quarter, the Defenders QB led his offense to 11 unanswered points in the final quarter for a 23-18 come-from-behind victory over the Roughnecks on Sunday.

The victory was the Defenders' 10th straight at Audi Field dating back to last year during the XFL season. Ta'amu found receiver Ty Scott for the game-winner - a 17-yard, one-handed catch in the end zone with 6:04 left to play.

The Roughnecks (0-2) had a chance to retake the lead late, but their final drive stalled at the Defenders' 24-yard line.

Ta'amu completed 16 of 32 passes for 212 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for the Defenders (1-1). Houston's backup QB Reid Sinnett replaced injured starter Jarrett Guarantano and finished 19 of 30 for 221 yards and one score.

Roughnecks defensive back Corn Elder returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown for the opening score of the game.

Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him at @eric_d_williams.

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