The Pittsburgh Maulers will not match their win total from 1984, granted in eight less games.
Pittsburgh (1-8) faced the Philadelphia Stars (6-3) Sunday night in Birmingham, Alabama and came up short 17-16, missing a potential game-winning field goal with under a minute left.
Both teams started out flat, committing one turnover a piece in the game’s first five drives.
Six plays after a Philadelphia punt and inside Stars territory, Maulers quarterback Vad Lee was picked off by Channing Stribling at the Philadelphia 23-yard line. Stribling almost made a house call on the return, being pushed out of bounds by Lee at the Pittsburgh 27.
Pittsburgh’s defense locked down Philadelphia’s offense, losing two yards on the drive and setting up a field goal attempt.
Luis Aguilar delivered a 47-yard field goal through the uprights for the game’s first points.
The Maulers responded eight plays later. After kicking a USFL record 61-yard field goal last week, Ramiz Ahmed drilled a 59 yarder to tie the game 3-3.
Into Pittsburgh territory only four plays later, Philadelphia running back Matt Colburn fumbled and was recovered by the Maulers. Malcolm Emlore pounced on the football as the Maulers defense presented another impactful play.
Needing a play to shift momentum into its favor, Pittsburgh turned to its special teams to deliver points. On 4th-and-7, Kirby Wilson drew up a trick play. The Maulers pulled off a fake, 32-yard field goal attempt from the Philadelphia 14-yard line.
Ahmed threw a perfect pass to Malcolm Howard in the end zone to go ahead 10-3.
A FAKE FIELD GOAL FOR THE TOUCHDOWN
📺: FS1 pic.twitter.com/adKdhgkyg3
— USFL (@USFL) June 13, 2022
Aguilar missed a 54 yarder on the next Philadelphia possession and sparked a spree of poor play going into halftime.
Lee and Stars quarterback Case Cookus both threw interceptions in the final six minutes, but neither team came away with points. Cookus and K.J. Costello shaped snaps at quarterback Philadelphia.
The Maulers led the Stars 10-3 at halftime.
Three punts started off the second half, until Philadelphia capitalized nearing the end of the third quarter.
An eight play, 52-yard drive that took up almost five minutes of clock resulted in a one-yard touchdown run by Paul Terry with 1:30 to go in the third.
Aguilar’s successful point after tied the game up again 10-10.
Pittsburgh was quick to respond. A struggling offense put together an eight-play, 52-yard drive of its own to retake the lead with 11:56 left in the fourth quarter.
On 2nd-and-12 from the Stars 28, Lee found Tre Walker for a 28-yard score.
Ahmed’s extra point was no good, and it would prove costly for Pittsburgh.
Following a Philadelphia punt, Lee fumbled inside Stars territory on the 41 and gave the ball right back.
It only took one play for the Maulers to pay.
Colburn rushed to the end zone one play later from 51-yards away and regained the lead for Philadelphia 17-16 after a successful extra point.
The final four minutes were hectic.
Madre London fumbled for Pittsburgh and was followed up by a missed 46 yarder from Aguilar.
Ahmed had a chance to win it for the Maulers, but his 49-yard field goal was unsuccessful with only 58 seconds remaining.
Lee threw for only 146 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Garrett Groshek led Pittsburgh with 48 yards on 11 carries.
Kyahva Tezino and Zane Zandier both recorded a team-high eight total tackles in the loss
Pittsburgh concludes its 2022 spring season against the Michigan Panthers on Sunday at 12 p.m.