Through RJ Young
FOX Sports Writer
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Midway through the press conference, after answering questions from people in the Protective Stadium, a call was made via Zoom to media members in attendance to ask their questions.
After a long, awkward silence, New Orleans Breakers head coach Larry Fedora intervened between players Kyle Sloter and Anthony Jones.
“They’re all in bed,” Fedora joked.
The night had been full.
After 54 regulation points, a 60-yard field goal, five two-point conversion attempts — including one in regulation — a fumble kick return and overtime, the Breakers were lucky enough to leave the media conference at 11:52 p.m. CT. with a win over the Michigan Panthers — not to mention a chance to remain in contention for one of the two playoffs at the end of the inaugural USFL season.
But to get there, Sloter first had to roll to the left, throw a duck and hit Jay Adams wide, who caught the pass just in time for the Breakers to time out with the clock showing one second on the clock. indicated.
“The quarterback got hit,” Fedora said, “and when he threw it, the ball floated in the air — that was definitely not planned.”
Breakers beat Panthers, 31-27 in USFL’s first OT thriller
The Breakers’ defense stopped the Panthers’ attack on two consecutive conversion attempts, while Anthony Jones and Kyle Sloter converted for New Orleans.
That caused New Orleans kicker Taylor Bertolet to score a 26-yard field goal as time ran out to force overtime.
Under league rules, overtime consists of a best-of-three shootout from the 2-yard line. Each score is worth two points. If a team rises by four points in their first two possession, the game ends.
If the teams tie after the best-of-three shootout, the period immediately goes to sudden death.
For the Panthers, who had first possession, their first attempt was forgettable and ended with a clumsy click.
The Breakers scored on their first possession when Sloter found Jones open in the flat for the first ever runs scored in a USFL overtime.
The Panthers again missed on their second try, then Sloter ran into the end zone after a broken game to secure a 31-27 win in overtime. He finished 15-for-24 for 182 yards with two TDs.
“I think like a competitor,” Sloter said, “you look for those opportunities to help your team win a game, and we had some great play-calls there at the end.”
Passing Kyle Sloter Helps Breakers Beat Panthers in OT
Kyle Sloter threw 182 yards and two touchdowns as the New Orleans Breakers held on to a thrilling 31-29 OT win against the Michigan Panthers.
Patterson switches sides
It wasn’t enough that Panthers coach Jeff Fisher made the decision earlier in the week to release quarterback Shea Patterson – the No. 1 overall draft pick. Patterson patrolled the sidelines for Larry Fedora’s Breakers, doing everything he could to tell the New Orleans defense what plays the Panthers were trying to perform.
It didn’t matter.
The Panthers nearly took their second win of the season behind the play of Patterson’s replacement, Josh Love. Love completed 18 of 36 passes for 173 yards.
“We got a boost in quarterback position,” Fisher said.
The love was stabilized by an excellent hasty attack with Reggie Corbin running back running the centenary mark to the ground.
Corbin leads the league in average yards per rush. He carried the ball 13 times for 108 yards (8.3 yards per rush), as the Panthers’ offensive line rolled over the Breakers’ defenses, allowing Panther rushers to average better than 5.5 yards per carry.
In a matchup with the toppass attack (Breakers) against the toppass defense (Panthers), the Breakers decided to let the run game begin before making a big win on a screen to run back Jordan Ellis. But an end-around handoff to Adams ended up on the floor with Panther defense end JaQuan Bailey covering it for the game’s first turnover.
Choosing not to look a gifted horse in the mouth, Love soon found widespread Devin Ross in the center of the field to put the Panthers in a first-goal situation for 33 yards.
However, the Breaker defense held out within the 10-yard line, forcing the Panthers to kick a field goal to advance 3-0 with 6:07 to go in the first quarter.
After a scheduled quarterback change for New Orleans, former Tulsa quarterback Zach Smith led the Breakers downfield on a 10-play scoring drive for the game’s first touchdown with his first touchdown pass in the USFL to a wide open Sal Cannella.
He finished 5-for-8 for 46 yards with that passing TD.
With one minute to go, Sloter, the starter, got back into the game and led the Breakers into the field for their second TD of the game. Sloter found Adams on a prime fade route to give the Breakers an edge over the Panthers.
A (still) record-breaking field goal
At the halfway point, the Breakers only had a 14-9 lead after reigning USFL Special Teams Player of the Week Cole Murphy smashed a USFL record 60 yards field goal as the clock hit zero before halftime.
“Just a great kick,” Fisher said.
Murphy was 4-for-5 on field goals against the Breakers.
Murphy set the previous USFL record for longest field goal when he nailed a 56-yarder in the Panthers’ loss to Birmingham last week.
Cole Murphy scores 60 YARD field goal to boost Panthers towards halftime
Cole Murphy scores a 60-yard field goal to give the Panthers a boost en route to halftime.
Late lead changes
At halftime, Breakers kicker Bertolet extended New Orleans’ lead to 17-9 with three runs of their own before the Panthers began their first sustainable drive of the second half.
The New Orleans defense bowed to their own 16-yard line, forcing Michigan to settle for three more at the end of a 16-play drive. With the Breakers leading 17-12 with 1:21 to go in the third quarter, the Panthers had to be good at keeping Fedora’s team within one score.
Their optimism was rewarded. On the ensuing kick-off, Taywan Taylor fiddled with the ball during his kick-return and the ball was found by Michigan in the Breakers half of the field.
At the end of the third quarter, the Panthers held the ball on the New Orleans seven-yard line with three-and-seven to go. Fullback Stevie Scott III later hit for a TD and set up the Panthers for a leading two point conversion on a pass from Love to Lance Lenoir with 14:20 left.
The Panthers led for the first time in the first quarter since six minutes left. The lead did not last long.
Jones took a screen from Michigan’s 42-yard line and found money to help the Breakers recapture a 24-20 lead with 12:12 left to play. But the Panthers wasted no time getting back on the board.
Breakers, Panthers score on three straight drives in 4th
The New Orleans Breakers and Michigan Panthers started the fourth quarter with a bang, scoring on three consecutive drives.
They drove Corbin into the red zone and took their second lead in five minutes as Cam Scarlett, running back, became the second back to rush for a TD for the Panthers on a seven game run of two minutes and 51 seconds.
Michigan was back on top, 27-24, with 9:23 remaining. The Panther defense did not allow another point to be scored – until the last second of regulation.
By the end of the game, Michigan had scored 11 points on sales, and their total of 27 points was the most the Panthers have scored in one game all season.
The Panthers suffered another heartbreaking loss in a game they appeared to be winning.
RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the podcast “The #1 ranked show with RJ Young.” Follow him on Twitter @RJ_Youngand subscribe to “The RJ Young Show” on YouTube. He’s not on a StepMill.
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