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Maulers work overtime to beat Panthers in North title game

Pittsburgh Maulers and Michigan Panthers in USFL North Division Championship at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.  Saturday, June 24, 2023.
Credit: Julie Vennitti Botos / Canton Repository / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Pittsburgh Maulers converted both of their overtime plays from the 2-yard line to beat the Michigan Panthers 31-27 in the USFL North Division title game on Saturday in Canton, Ohio.

The Maulers (5-6) will take on the winner of Sunday’s South Division championship game between the host Birmingham Stallions and New Orleans Breakers.

The league’s overtime rules give each team up to three tries from the 2-yard line in each round.

Pittsburgh quarterback Troy Williams completed a pass to Mason Stokke for the conversion on the Maulers’ first possession to take a 29-27 lead, and Michigan rusher Stevie Scott III fumbled just before breaking the plane on an attempted dive as the Panthers (4-7) failed to keep the pace.

On their second possession, the Maulers tallied again on Williams’ rush for a 31-27 cushion, and the game ended when Michigan quarterback E.J. Perry’s pass was deflected and fell incomplete.

Williams finished with 203 yards and one touchdown on 23-of-40 passing. Garrett Groshek and Bailey Gaither rushed for scores, and Ishmael Hyman caught a touchdown pass. Isiah Hennie finished with six catches for 83 yards.

Perry completed 23 of 38 passes for 370 yards and two scores, with one interception. He also rushed for a touchdown. Trey Quinn caught five passes for 104 yards and a touchdown, and Marcus Simms made three catches for 87 yards and a score.

In a hectic final three-plus minutes, Chris Blewitt gave the Maulers a 20-17 lead with a season-best 59-yard field goal, but Perry hit Quinn on a 55-yard touchdown for a 24-20 Panthers lead.

Hyman’s 6-yard TD reception with 44 seconds left gave the Maulers a short-lived lead at 27-24, but the Panthers moved down the field and forced overtime with Cole Murphy’s 47-yard field goal.

–Field Level Media

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