Connect with us


Pittsburgh Maulers Drop Final USFL Game 33-21, Finish 1-9



In a fight for the No. 1 pick in the 2023 draft and every round that followed, the Pittsburgh Maulers continued their theme of coming up short. 

Pittsburgh (1-9) faced the Michigan Panthers (2-8) Sunday afternoon and lost its fifth-straight game, 33-21 to end the season for the reborn franchise. 

In an effort to prevent tanking and the schedule conveniently pinning the league’s two worst teams, the USFL announced the winner would receive the top pick in each round of next year’s draft. 

The Maulers received the opening kickoff but stalled their first drive after four plays. Vad Lee started the game for Pittsburgh but would share reps with Slippery Rock alum and fellow quarterback Roland Rivers.

Michigan started the scoring early but their methods were unorthodox. 

The Panthers punted on their first possession inside the Pittsburgh 20-yard line. 

Back to return the punt, Isiah Hennie fumbled the football and was recovered by Michigan’s Shane Griffin at the Pittsburgh 22. 

Michigan struck first five plays later. On 3rd-and-3, former NFL first-round pick Paxton Lynch connected with Ishmael Hyman for a four-yard touchdown. The Panthers took a 7-0 lead with eight minutes gone in the game and were not done adding on in the first quarter. 

Driving into Michigan territory, the Maulers went for the conversation on 4th-and-1 at the Panthers 37-yard line. Another Pittsburgh fumble led to points. 

Mikey Daniel gave the ball away, forced by Justin Hughes, which resulted in a scoop-and-score by Cory Rahman. The play was reviewed and resulted in a double-digit Panthers advantage 14-0. The extra point from Cole Murphy was good with 2:45 remaining in the first quarter.

Following a Maulers punt, the Michigan offense was back to work and displayed its best drive by far of the day. 

Due in large part to a short pass to Stevie Scott III that resulted in a 59-yard gain, the Panthers showed their determination to win the top pick.

Lynch found Lance Lenoir on another short pass, this one only needing to go three yards on second-and-goal to push the lead even more to 21-0.

The Maulers had no answers until inside the final two minutes of the second half.

Rivers led the offense down inside the Michigan 20-yard line before the drive ultimately stalled. Ramiz Ahmed collected Pittsburgh’s first points on a 23-yard kick to conclude the first half scoring.

Michigan led 21-3 after 30 minutes thanks to an interception by Blaze Alldredge defensively for the Maulers to close the half. 

A fast-moving third quarter was capped by an 11-play Michigan drive resulting in a 35-yard Murphy field goal. 

Rivers connected with Delvon Hardaway on a 47-yard deep ball for one of the biggest plays of the game as the Pittsburgh offense came alive nearing the end of the third quarter. The big play led to the Maulers first touchdown.

Matt Seybert worked his way wide open in the end zone on a pass from Rivers and tacked on six points and the score 24-9.

Head coach Kirby Wilson attempted a three-point play trailing by 15, but despite Lee’s heroics to escape the pocket could not convert. 

After a Michigan three-and-out, Lee returned back as quarterback to continue a wild final 15 minutes offensively. 

A 13-yard score from Lee to Hennie cut the deficit 24-15. Pittsburgh tried a two-point attempt and once again came up short.

Michigan answered 10 plays later. Lynch methodically moved the offense on a 75-yard drive completed by a Marcus Baugh five-yard receiving touchdown. Murphy’s extra point was no good but the Panthers doubling up the Maulers 30-15 with just over six minutes remaining. 

Four touchdowns were scored in the final quarter. The final one was courtesy of the Maulers, still trying to catch up.

Lee once again found Hennie, this time for a 22-yard touchdown, and once again trailed by nine 30-21 and 3:39 left in the game. 

Third time was not a charm for Kirby Wilson’s point-after decision making. The Maulers failed on their second two-point attempt and the deficit remained the same. 

The 21-0 lead wound up being insurmountable for Pittsburgh, a common theme for an offense that struggled the entire season.

Michigan added another field goal inside three minutes to officially shut the door on a final Maulers comeback.

Carlo Kemp registered two sacks, one forced fumble, and three tackles in the season finale for the Maulers defense. 

Lee and Rivers combined for 280 yards passing, five more than Lynch, with two touchdowns from Lee and one thrown by Rivers.

Delvon Hardaway ended the game with exactly 100 yards on six catches. 

Kyahva Tezino collected 12 total tackles, one tackle-for-loss, and one pass defensed. 

Thomas Jefferson High School graduate and linebacker Zane Zandier finished the game with six solo and nine total tackles. 

Bryce Torneden, the Maulers only All-USFL representative, finished the day with four tackles. 

The Maulers struggled similarly to their 1984 season, going 3-15, and owns an overall record of 4-23 in two seasons. 

Steelers Now in your Inbox

Sign up and get all of our posts sent directly to your inbox!

Thank you!