Stars Drop Battle Of PA To Maulers

The Stars began Week 3 of the 2023 USFL season with the battle of Pennsylvania kind of. The Pittsburgh Maulers traveled to Detroit to battle the Philadelphia Stars. For the Stars, it was their 2023 home opener at Ford Field in Detroit. The Maulers one of the worst teams in the USFL last year entered the game 0-2 on the season. The Stars 1-1 were looking to rebound after they suffered a loss last week against the Michigan Panthers.

Off and Running

Chris Rowland gave the Stars optimum field position to begin the game, running the opening kickoff out to the Pittsburgh 47-yard line. Six plays later, the Stars reached the end zone when quarterback Case Cookus hit wide receiver Corey Coleman near the pylon for the 24-yard score.

Pittsburgh put together a scoring drive after the Philadelphia score when QB Troy Williams hooked up with fullback Mason Stokke for a 25-yard pickup, helping get the Maulers in range for kicker Chris Blewitt, who later hit a 46-yard field goal. After forcing Philadelphia to punt, Pittsburgh put together another scoring drive. This one ended with Blewitt connecting on a dazzling 50-yard field goal.

The Maulers began their next possession at midfield and turned the positive field position into points. Defensive pass interference on cornerback Channing Stribling and a 16-yard scramble by Williams helped set up Blewitt’s it was his third field goal of the day, giving Pittsburgh a 9-7 lead. Philadelphia went three-and-out, and Isiah Hennie ran the punt down to the Stars’ 20-yard line. The Maulers, though, were unable to get a first down and settled for their fourth field goal.

Coleman then ran the ensuing kickoff out to the Pittsburgh 37-yard line for Philadelphia and a personal foul on Eli Walker put the ball on the 22-yard line. Then, Cookus hit wide receiver Diondre Overton for an 18-yard pickup, but the Stars were unable to get into the end zone. Luis Aguilar hit a 23-yard field goal, bringing the Stars within two, 12-10, at halftime.

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Second Half

Pittsburgh opened the second half with a 10-play drive. Another 16-yard scramble from Williams put the Maulers in field goal range, allowing Blewitt to connect on his fifth field goal of the game a USFL record for a single game.

Late in the third quarter, Mauler’s defensive lineman Olive Sagapolu strip-sacked Cookus, and Boogie Roberts recovered the loose ball. Two plays later, Williams hit wide receiver Bailey Gaither for Pittsburgh’s first touchdown. Blewitt missed the extra point, though, and the Maulers led 21-10.

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The Stars trimmed the deficit to one score after the Maulers’ touchdown. Cookus hit Overton and Coleman for a pair of completions that combined for 33 yards and led to a 48-yard field goal from Aguilar.  Pittsburgh’s Josh Simmons then ran the ensuing kickoff out to Philadelphia’s 32-yard line, but the latter’s defense made a play.

On third-and-13, defensive end Adam Rodriquez ran up from behind wide receiver C.J. Turner, forcing a fumble, and safety Cody Brown recovered the loose ball for the Stars. However, the newfound possession was short-lived, as Mauler’s linebacker Reuben Foster came up with a huge interception on the next drive to get the ball right back midway through the fourth quarter. Just like that, it remained an eight-point game, 21-13.

Pittsburgh went three-and-out after the Foster interception, but Walker hauled another pick for the Maulers on the next possession, as Cookus overthrew his target. Maulers hold on. Pittsburgh went three-and-out after the turnover again, and Philadelphia came roaring down the field.

Cookus began the drive with a 15-yard completion to Overton. Two plays later, the quarterback hit Coleman for a 14-yard pickup. Four plays later, though, defensive end Vaughn Taylor Jr. stunted the Stars’ offensive momentum with a second down sack. Then Pittsburgh’s defense kept Coleman in bounds on completion, which ran off a great deal of clock, and Cookus’ fourth-down pass was incomplete. Pittsburgh won 21-13. The Stars 1-2 will next face the Houston Gamblers 1-2 Saturday, May 6th, at 1 PM on FOX.

Matt Bednarczyk
Matt Bednarczyk

Matt Bednarczyk is your host of Talking Philly Sports With Matty B. He is a proud retired US Army Sergeant First Class, he is also a combat veteran with over 80 months served in Afganistan, and Iraq . Huge Hockey Fan. Matt is a lifelong 4 for 4 Philly sports fan. Born and raised on the Mayfair and Tacony neighborhood lines of Northeast Philly. He brings over 40 years of Philadelphia Sports passion and provides a realistic look at our Major Sports Teams and the most passionate sports fans on the planet. Look for his show live on Edge of Philly Sports.