By RJ Young
FOX Sports activities Author
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — In a matchup that featured the No. 1 and No. 2 total picks within the inaugural United States Football League Draft, two former AFC head coaches and almost 700 yards of offense, the Tampa Bay Bandits sealed a 27-20 victory in opposition to the Michigan Panthers on Friday night time.
The South Division stays undefeated in opposition to the North Division at 5-0.
Jordan Ta’amu leads Bandits over Panthers, 27-20
The Tampa Bay Bandits defeated the Michigan Panthers 27-20 because of Jordan Ta’amu’s 207 yards passing and two touchdowns.
The competition was nonetheless within the stability with lower than two minutes to go when Bandits linebacker Greg Reaves compelled Panthers operating again Cam Scarlett to fumble, this after Scarlett caught a cross that made Shea Patterson simply the second quarterback this season to cross for 300 yards or extra with 1:47 left to play.
“Turnovers have been the sport,” mentioned Bandits linebacker Christian Sam. “Turnovers win video games.”
Sam recorded seven tackles — together with a sort out for loss — three passes defended and an interception. His decide got here off a cross that Reaves tipped.
As Sam sat subsequent to his head coach, Todd Haley, and throughout from quarterback Jordan Ta’amu, he puzzled why he was even requested to talk on the postgame media convention.
“Greg balled,” Sam mentioned. “I don’t even know why I’m up right here and never him. Greg performed a hell of a sport.”
Reaves ended the night time with seven tackles, together with two tackles for loss, and created each turnovers that gained a sport that turned out to be a shootout.
Patterson completed the night time finishing 23 of 37 cross makes an attempt for 306 yards with a landing and an interception. It was by far one of the best sport performed by the USFL’s No. 1 total decide.
Fisher mentioned Patterson’s play was indicative of a participant settling down and settling on the midway mark of season.
“It truly is,” Fisher mentioned. “It is simply extra time, extra reps, and the offense. You understand, he settled down, made some actually good throws, however that is the quick reply.”
The Panthers put up 409 yards of offense to the Bandits’ 273, although Ta’amu and the Tampa offense received off simply 49 snaps to Michigan’s 70. Ta’amu accomplished simply 15 of his 24 cross makes an attempt, however two of these went for touchdowns. He additionally completes passes to seven totally different targets.
Getting into Week 5, the Panthers boasted the No. 1 speeding offense within the league, and they need to be after selecting to run the ball on 70 % of their performs over the earlier two video games. At the beginning of the sport, Eric Marty’s offense seemed like it could attempt to maintain cooking with that recipe for offensive success with what had been an anemic passing assault.
After the Panthers protection compelled Tampa to punt on its first possession, operating again Reggie Corbin confirmed why he’s the league’s main rusher and busted up the center for a 20-yard achieve.
Corbin had averaged 142 rush yards per sport over his final two contests and 100 speeding yards for the season earlier than being stymied by Pepper Johnson’s Bandit protection.
Corbin completed with simply 28 rush yards on 12 carries.
FLEA FLICKER TO FLY
A double cross from Patterson to Joe Walker to tight finish Ryan O’Malley went 30 yards for six and was O’Malley’s first landing of the season.
Panthers full double-pass landing vs. Bandits
The Michigan Panthers introduced out the tips for a USFL-style double-pass landing in opposition to the Tampa Bay Bandits involving Shea Patterson, Ryan O’Malley and Joe Walker.
The cross took benefit of a brand new rule within the USFL through which a double-pass just isn’t solely allowed however the first cross could be a ahead cross so long as it’s thrown behind the line-of-scrimmage.
Tampa responded with its personal trick play — a flea flicker — that operating again Juwan Washington pitched again to Ta’amu, just for Ta’amu to fumble the ball, get well it, spin, after which throw a leap ball to former LSU wideout Derrick Dillon over the center. Dillon snatched it out of the air and turned it right into a 50-yard landing.
“I’ve all the time been taught when all the pieces round me is chaotic that I gotta keep calm and picked up, and I nonetheless wanted to toss it again,” Ta’amu mentioned. “I knew I had one bounce to get it and make one thing occur. I used to be gonna throw it away, however quickly as I grabbed the ball I noticed Derek Dillon in my imaginative and prescient, made a spin transfer and sort of gave him a 50-50 shot.”
Bandits’ Jordan Ta’amu throws a TD on a flea flicker
Tampa Bay Bandits’ Jordan Ta’amu throws a deep shot to Derrick Dillon on the flea flicker for the sport tying landing.
“I’ll say that is one of many best performs I’ve ever seen in my complete profession,” Haley mentioned. “Not the way in which we drew it up. It was our first play, however we received backed up. So, after we received to name it, Jordan made it work. It was fairly spectacular.”
After one quarter, Walker had thrown for extra yards on one cross than Patterson (0-for-2). Whereas Ta’amu started higher — 2-for-3 for 52 yards with a TD — the Bandits held the ball for simply two minutes and 6 seconds of the primary quarter.
Patterson accomplished 9 of 16 cross makes an attempt for 128 yards within the first half. He had handed for 67 yards on 17 makes an attempt in his complete earlier outing and 115 complete over his final two video games. With these 128 yards within the first two intervals, Patterson had already performed his second-best statistical sport of the season.
Ta’amu accomplished simply 4 of 9 passes for 57 yards within the first half, however the Bandits’ offense held the ball for half the time (9:46) the Panthers’ offense did (20:14).
Michigan specialist Cole Murphy each saved the drive alive with a fourth-down cross on a faux punt, after which put the Panthers forward with a 36-yard area aim.
With 4:01 left within the half, the Bandits counterstruck rapidly, with Washington ending off a six-play drive to maneuver forward 13-10, following a missed further level by kicker Tyler Rausa.
However Murphy added one other area aim with simply 12 seconds left within the half to tie the rating at 13-13.
Michigan’s protection had given up simply 9 factors (all area objectives) within the second half all season, however Ta’amu modified all that when he discovered huge receiver John Franklin III for six with a 43-yard landing toss. That gave the Bandits a 20-13 lead.
Patterson tried to counter, however after driving to the pink zone, he threw a cross that was tipped on the line and intercepted by Sam to place an finish to the Panthers’ drive.
It took the Bandits simply over two minutes and 6 performs to reply with a go-ahead landing behind Washington’s 30-yard rush. With starter BJ Emmons sidelined, Washington basically dealt with the operating again duties by himself.
His play was indicative of the sort of grit that Haley has come to like about his crew.
USFL Helmet Cam: Juwan Washington breaks off 30-yard run
Have a look by means of the eyes of Tampa Bay Bandits’ RB Juwan Washington as he breaks off a 30-yard game-winning TD and hit’s the “Griddy” after!
“I’m gonna say the identical factor I say each time with these guys,” Haley mentioned. “I actually actually take pleasure in being round them. They care. They love soccer. They run by means of partitions and do no matter is important to be able to play a sport and all the pieces didn’t go our approach in that sport, however they caught collectively and located a technique to win a sport which we wanted desperately.”
RJ Younger is a nationwide faculty soccer author and analyst for FOX Sports activities and the host of the podcast “The No. 1 Ranked Show with RJ Young.” Comply with him on Twitter at @RJ_Young, and subscribe to “The RJ Young Show” on YouTube. He’s not on a StepMill.
Get extra from United States Soccer League Comply with your favorites to get details about video games, information and extra.