Darrius Shepherd’s heroism lifts the generals over the panthers

Of Eric D. Williams
FOX sports writer

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The New Jersey generals they are the fastest team in the USFL.

However, with the Michigan Panthers slowing them forward, the generals turned to Darrius Shepherd and the passing game.

Shepherd finished with eight catches for 99 yards in reception, including the game’s winner: a 17-yard touchdown on a fade course that gave the Generals a 25-23 win over the Panthers on Saturday at Protective Stadium.

Darrius Shepherd of the generals scores the winning TD

Darrius Shepherd of the generals scores the winning TD

New Jersey receiver Darrius Shepherd led the generals with eight receptions for 99 yards and the winning touchdown. Michigan catcher Joe Walker led the Panthers offense with seven catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns.

“I’m just proud of our team for finding a way to win,” said general manager Mike Riley. “For a while it seemed a little dark. I heard it on the sidelines. But when we had to stop them and we had to make some plays in attack, we did it.”

The main USFL runner who entered week 9, Darius Victor was slowed down by a toe problem, totaling just 18 yards out of seven carries. Trey Williams led the generals with 62 yards on 11 carries.

After leading most of the game, New Jersey were four points behind with 6:37 remaining after a 25-yard field goal from Cole Murphy. But Luis Perez engineered the decisive drive after a big Cam Echols-Luper comeback brought New Jersey close to midfield (he also had an 18-yard reverse for a score).

Second and fifth from the Michigan 17-yard line, Shepherd converted into a gateway against press coverage, beating his man over the top for scoring.

“When your number is called, you have to play games,” Shepherd said. “Trainer [Riley] got us involved in today’s passing game, gave us the opportunity to show what we can do. ”

Along with Shepherd, KaVontae Turpin continues to look like the most explosive player in the league, taking a 71-yard punt for a score just over 10 minutes from halftime – the first punt return home this season in l ‘USFL.

KaVontae Turpin takes him home

KaVontae Turpin takes him home

The New Jersey Generals take a 10-0 lead over the Michigan Panthers after KaVontae Turpin brought home a 71-yard punt.

“The coach (Riley) told me early in this match that this is probably going to be the day you get one,” Turpin said. “So, I just told him I’d be patient over there. I hit the hole once and just got back out, just trying to be the director for the team, basically.”

The generals overcame two missed field goals and two missed extra points to improve to 8-1 in the year, winning the eighth straight game. The Panthers dropped to 1-7 and lost six in a row.

Pittsburgh Maulers quarterback for the first three games of the year, Josh Love started as Panthers quarterback. The starting Michigan quarterbacks earlier this season – Paxton Lynch and Shea Patterson – weren’t both available. Lynch was inactive for the game and Patterson, the overall number 1 pick in the draft, was revoked a couple of weeks ago and is now a member of the New Orleans Breakers.

Love finished 12 of 21 for a 168-yard pass, with two touchdown passes and two interceptions. He was hit by Hercules Mata’afa and walked off the pitch limping with a right knee injury. Love was eliminated by Trae Elston in the show.

East Washington product Eric Barriere replaced Love in the lineup. Barriere played well in his first USFL action, finishing 14 of 24 for 118 yards and a touchdown for Ishmael Hyman.

However, needing a field goal at the end of the match, Barriere was intercepted by Paris Ford, sealing the victory for the Generals.

Joe Walker played well for Michigan, finishing with seven receptions for 129 yards and two scores.

The Panthers were pretty roughed up after this, losing running back Cameron Scarlett (unspecified) and catcher Devin Ross (knee) to injury. Best running back Reggie Corbin did not play due to injury.

Michigan ended the game with only one running back and healthy quarterback available.

“This is probably where I was most proud of our boys,” said Michigan manager Jeff Fisher. “It was one of those ‘last man standing’ things.”

Toby Johnson interception

New Jersey Nose Tackle Toby Johnson lived a big man’s dream against the Panthers – he got to show off his athleticism by putting his big gloves on football.

In the first quarter, Destiny Vaeao deflected a pass of Love high in the air. A cheat Johnson tracked him down, making an impressive diving catch for interception.

The generals turned the mistake into points when Austin Jones converted a 36-yard field goal.

Three Williams update

Fisher provided good news on injured defensive lineman Tre Williams.

In Michigan’s defeat to the Philadelphia Stars last week, Williams remained motionless on the pitch for several minutes before being taken off the pitch on a board and stretcher and transported to the University of Alabama-Birmingham Medical Center.

However, Fisher said Williams is out of the hospital and was on the sidelines watching his teammates play on Sunday. Fisher said there is also the possibility of Williams playing in the last Michigan game next week.

“Three is doing extraordinarily well,” Fisher said. “We didn’t leave him out of the final game, I’m really happy to say that. The Good Lord was hearing our prayers because that was a big prayer answered incident there. It was a scary business.

“He’s good. He was with his teammates this week. He has some mobility. It’s a matter of medical clearance. But for me to be able to say he has a chance to play two weeks after what we endured last week is enough. good. ”

Eric D. Williams has been reporting on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.

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