Down by a score of 19-0 to the Michigan Panthers with 20 seconds left in the half, the Memphis Showboats regained possession on their 12-yard line, and QB Troy Williams launched an absolute strike to Daewood Davis who charged downfield for an 82-yard TD. The longest TD of the season breathed new life into a battered and bruised Memphis team that was coming off three consecutive losses.

Sunday’s game between the Showboats and the Panthers featured two backup quarterbacks making their first start in the UFL, hoping to lead their team to victory and secure a spot in the playoffs. As a result of E.J. Perry’s hamstring injury, Panthers QB Danny Etling took over the starting assignment. Memphis QB Troy Williams, best known for leading the USFL Pittsburgh Maulers to the Championship game against the Birmingham Stallions, filled in for the injured Case Cookus.

Despite a slow start in a soaking rain storm and heavy pressure from the Panthers’ defense, Troy Williams still looked very impressive and finished the game with 248 passing yards (19/37) with 3 TDs and 2 interceptions. Williams was the team’s leading rusher with 24 yards on two carries. As the team took the field after halftime with a score of 19-6, the re-energized Showboats fought back to score two more touchdowns.

Early in the second half, the Showboats recovered a muffed punt on the Panthers’ 7-yard line and Williams lofted the ball to Jonathan Adams for the score. TE Sage Surratt scored later on a 4-yard pass from Williams, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the surging Panthers. Despite a strong second-half comeback by the Showboats, the Panthers convincingly won the game, 35-18.

Etling passed 14-21 for 175 yards and added another 10 rushing yards with one TD. Although Etling stats weren’t all that impressive, thankfully, they didn’t need to be because the Panthers’ defense and running game were outstanding on Sunday. Michigan’s defense, one of the best in the league, came up with 7 sacks, two interceptions, and a forced fumble. For the third week in a row, safety Kai Nakua came up with an interception and continues to lead the league.

Breeland Speaks was the defensive star of the afternoon contributing 3 sacks, including a strip sack early in the game. The resulting fumble was recovered by Garrett Marino and led to RB Wes Hills’ first rushing TD of the afternoon with a 1-point conversion to WR Siaosi Mariner. The score was 7-0 in favor of the Panthers.

After not scoring a single touchdown all season, the star of the Panthers’ offense was Wes Hills who exploded onto the scene with three rushing TDs. For the second week in a row, the Panthers successfully converted on a fake punt by Hills that led to a second rushing TD by RB Matthew Colburn, bringing the score to 13-0.

The game also proved that Michigan Panthers kicking sensation, Jake Bates is not superhuman. Bates missed on 2/3 FGs when he failed to connect on a 58-yard FG and then just before halftime, failed a 62-yard kick. Bates did score late in the game on a 30-yard field goal to make the final score 35-18 in favor of the Panthers.

The Panthers did a lot of things correctly to win this critical division game and one of those calls was the use of the coach’s super challenge. Head Coach Mike Nolan made the best use of this challenge all season when he correctly challenged a non-call that resulted in revising a last-minute Showboats 1st down conversion into a 4th and 17. The Panthers took over on downs with two minutes left in the game when Memphis was unable to convert.

Despite the disappointing loss, Memphis is not out of it. Given the surprising lack of information on the status of the injured Case Cookus, Williams could be the team’s quarterback. Based on Sunday’s game, he demonstrated an ability to lead the team, make good decisions, and put points on the board. Once again, the Showboats’ biggest problem is the lack of protection provided by the offensive line. Fix that, improve the running game, and Memphis could be right back in the battle for the number two playoff spot.

author avatar
Sue Levine
Sue Levine spent the past five years creating and producing a successful weekly health and wellness podcast starring a wonderful iconic woman as the program host. As part of Sue's responsibilities, she scripted every episode and discovered a genuine love of writing. When the podcast ended late last year, she shifted the focus of her writing to covering pro sports. A passionate fan of NFL and UFL football as well as fantasy, she is delighted to be able to share her articles with other football fans.

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