USFL Week 9 highlights: Maulers top Panthers, keep playoff hopes alive

USFL Week 9 highlights: Maulers top Panthers, keep playoff hopes alive

Jun 10

Week 9 of the USFL season is here, and the action starts Saturday on FOX with the first of two highly anticipated divisional matchups.

Kicking things off, the Pittsburgh Maulers (3-6) rode their defense and special teams to a gritty win over the Michigan Panthers (3-6) in Canton, Ohio, keeping their postseason hopes alive with just one week left in the regular season. If the Maulers beat the New Jersey Generals next week, they'll qualify for the postseason at 4-6.

Later, the Memphis Showboats (5-3) are playing host to the New Orleans Breakers (5-3).

Here are the top moments!

Pittsburgh Maulers 19, Michigan Panthers 7

Coming out hot!

The Maulers wasted no time getting started as Josh Simmons returned the opening kickoff all the way to Michigan's 29-yard line.

A few players later, it was Simmons again, this time hauling in a perfect pass from Troy Williams, beating a defense that couldn't have been played much better. That gave the Maulers a quick 7-0 lead.

‘I knew it was a gonna be a bomb, for sure’

Have you ever seen an 83-yard punt? Now you have, courtesy of Matt Mengel!

Mengel then talked to Brock Huard about his monster boot.

Sticky fingers

Meanwhile, Michigan had a few highlights as well, including this incredible catch by AJ Richardson. How did he even see it?

Sack attack

The Panthers also made life difficult for Williams, notching four sacks in the first quarter. Breeland Speaks managed his ninth of the season, which he did with only a three-man rush, right here:

Pittsburgh special

The Maulers continued to rule the day on special teams. Madre London not only blocked the punt, be he recovered it, too! 

The Maulers led 13-0 at the half.

Signs of life!

The Panthers started the third quarter in fine form, taking the kickoff and marching 73 yards in just five plays. Panthers QB Josh Love for 3-for-3 for 60 yards on the drive, including a 12-yard scoring pass to Cole Hikutini that made it 13-7.

Big response

The Maulers fought back on their next drive, marching down the field with the help of a beautiful 33-yard pass from Williams to Isiah Hennie. The pass was initially ruled incomplete, but that was overturned via replay. Hennie's catch set up a field goal as Pittsburgh extended its lead to 16-7.

Standing tall

Early in the fourth quarter, the Maulers were driving in an attempt to turn it into a two-scored game. But the Panthers responded with their sixth sack of the game, a play that knocked Pittsburgh out of field goal range. Madre London carried it six times for 34 yards on the drive.

Grinding it out

The Maulers got their two-score lead, however, on their next drive, going 67 yards on 11 plays to set up a short field goal by Chris Blewitt.

Locking it down

The Panthers tried to mount a late comeback, but Pittsburgh's defense was simply too tough, and the Maulers went on to pull out the victory.

Pregame scene