The UFL Week 5 – A Tale of Two Cities

When the UFL inaugural game debuted on March 30th featuring Championship teams from the two former leagues, it was reasonable to assume the USFL Champion Birmingham Stallions and XFL Champion Arlington Renegades were evenly matched and would be among the dominant teams this year. But as we approach the mid-point of the season, a very different picture has emerged and these two teams couldn’t be further apart.

Picking up right where they left off with back-to-back USFL Championships, the Birmingham Stallions look to be on cruise control headed for a third consecutive trip to the playoffs. Head Coach Skip Holtz is continuing his quarterback shuffle between Matt Corral and Adrian Martinez from week to week and it doesn’t seem to matter which quarterback is under center as the Stallions chalk up win after win to remain undefeated.

The UFL-Week 5 A Tale of Two Cities

Outstanding Ground Game

On Saturday night, Adrian Martinez proved once again that he is the best rushing quarterback in the UFL as the Stallions cruised to a 32-9 win over the Houston Roughnecks. The Stallions ran roughshod over a struggling Houston defense as Martinez, looking more and more like an NFL running back, powered downfield on multiple 30-yard rushes racking up 138 yards on nine carries.

The Stallions’ ground game was the key to their victory last night and Martinez’s speed and athleticism were complimented by impressive performances from Ricky Person Jr. (14 carries for 25 yards with two rushing touchdowns) and Larry Roundtree (50 yards on nine carries with a touchdown)

A Strong Defensive Effort 

The Birmingham defense held the Roughnecks to 9 points, all but shutting out Deon Cain and forcing a second-effort touchdown by Braedon Bowman after overturning what appeared to be a Keke Chism score. Roughnecks quarterback Reid Sinnett had strong games from Chism (seven receptions for 88 yards) and Justin Hall (11 receptions for 93 yards) but the Stallions’ staunch defense held them out of the end zone. Safety JoJo Tillery intercepted Sinnett who finished the game with 27 completions on 38 passing attempts for 203 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Not to be overlooked, one of the keys to the Stallions’ success is the strength of their offensive line that allowed only one sack on the night from the Roughnecks defensive end Chris Odem. 

The Other Side Of The Story 

The difference between a 0-5 start and a 5-0 start to the season is becoming abundantly clear in Arlington, Texas. The sight of Arlington Renegades quarterback Luis Perez burying his face in his hands at the end of the game said it all after Arlington lost another hard-fought battle against the San Antonio Brahmas 25 to 15. The one-time championship MVP continues to put forth a superior performance but the losses keep mounting.   

Hurling completion after completion to wide receivers JaVonta Payton and Tyler Vaughns, along with tight end Sal Cannella, Perez did his part in demonstrating why he is at the top of the leaderboard each week. Perez finished 27/37 for 252 yards (72%) with one touchdown, a spectacular 52-yard touchdown bomb to Payton. But despite impressive statistics and an all-in effort from their quarterback, the Renegades remain dead last in the league with a 0-5 record.

Although Brahmas quarterback Quentin Dormady was just good enough to capture the win, he was far from perfect on the night, completing 19/30 for 160 yards with on touchdown. The Renegades’ defense intercepted Dormady three times as corners Steven Jones, Ajene Harris, and safety Miles Dorn were all perfectly positioned to pick him off.

A Tale of Two Different Ground Games 

The standout for the Brahmas was running back John Lovett who rushed for 95 yards on 13 carries with two touchdowns. By contrast, the Renegades’ ground game let them down with both Dae Dae Hunter and Leddie Brown contributing only 14 carries for 49 yards between them. The Brahmas had 190 rushing yards compared to the Renegades 59 total rushing yards.

While another championship appears out of reach for the Renegades, the season is still salvageable. Perez is a first-rate quarterback with a strong receiving core of Payton, Vaughns, and Cannella. But the inability to convert inside the red zone is a definite concern. The defense looked solid last night at picking off Dormady, but they could not stop the Brahmas run game. The Renegades will need a vastly improved ground game if they hope to start winning.

Main Image: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

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