2023 Week 3 USFL Recap: Pittsburg Maulers vs Philadelphia Stars
By Shawn Stewart
The Pittsburgh Maulers (1-2) got their first win of the season after beating the Philadelphia Stars (1-2) in Detroit.
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. A defensive pass interference on cornerback Channing Stribling and a 16-yard scramble by Williams helped set up Blewitt’s third field goal, 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 Pittsburgh was unable to get into the end zone. Luis Aguilar hit a 23-yard field goal, bringing the Stars within two, 12-10, at halftime.
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 record fifth field goal of the game.
Late in the third quarter, Maulers 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.
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 Rodriguez ran up from behind on wide receiver C.J. Turner, forcing a fumble and safety Cody Brown recovered the loose ball for the Stars.
The newfound possession was short-lived, however, as Maulers 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 in another pick for the Maulers on the next possession, as Cookus overthrew his target.
Pittsburgh went three-and-out after the turnover once 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 a completion, which ran off a great deal of clock, and Cookus’ fourth down pass was incomplete. Pittsburgh won 21-13.