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Birmingham Stallions defeat Tide legend

On Saturday, the Birmingham Stallions defeated the St. Louis Battlehawks. The game marked the return of University of Alabama Quarterback A. J. McCarron to the state. It was one of the Stallions closest, most hard fought games; but ultimately Birmingham prevailed 30 to 26. McCarron attempted a late game comeback; but was shut down by the Stallions defense.

Skip Holtz is the coach of the Stallions.

"What a great game," Holtz said in the postgame press conference. "I talked before the game that this was two really great football teams that were going to battle all the way down to the end."

The victory improves the Stallions to 7 and 0. The Stallions have already secured a berth in the USFL Championship game; but are trying to maintain that momentum and continue to improve as the head to the playoffs.

"We have got three more games in our regular season and any one of them can beat us," said Holtz.

Injuries have impacted the team down the stretch.

"If you look at the seven or eight starters that are not on this football team in week seven," said Holtz.

Last week the starting punt returner was injured so the backup played this week. This perhaps contributed to a muffed punt on the seven yards line that led to a St. Louis touchdown.

Stallions quarterback Adrian Martinez had another successful day both throwing and running with the ball.

Martines had 21 completions on 33 attempts for 230 yards and three touchdowns. He was also the leading rusher for the Stallions with 60 yards on 7 carries.

"Adrian came here to be a quarterback and I think he is doing a phenomenal job," said Coach Holtz. "He does have great feet, but he also has a great mind and a great arm."

Martinez threw the ball to ten different teammates.

"We have a very talented roster," said Martinez. "We have several guys that have the ability to take the top off of a defense."

Many of the Stallions best plays have come off of scrambles where Martinez is rolling out of the pocket.

"It looks unscripted, but we practice that," explained Martinez.

In the two years of the USFL the Stallions won the championship both years. Now, with a different quarterback and a roster with 50% turnover from year to year the Stallions are number one in the standings. Coach Skip Holtz has been a constant for the Stallions run.

"I give a lot of credit to Skip and the culture that he has built here," said Martinez.

Martinez is enjoying his run in the UFL; but did admit that he has higher aspirations.

"In the UFL we all want to get to the NFL," Martinez said.

McCarron had 19 completions on 32 attempts for 160 yards and a touchdown in his return to Alabama; but also an interception in the loss. At age 33, McCarron is one of the older players in the UFL. He has over ten years of NFL experience with the Bengals, Bills, Raiders, Falcons, and Texans. He tore his ACL in a preseason game with the Falcons in 2021 and was lost for the season. McCarron played for the Battlehawks in 2022. He was signed to the active roster for the Bengals in 2023 where he did see some game action. At the University of Alabama, he won back-to-back national championships.

The USFL played for two seasons and then merged in December with XFL to form the Ultimate Football League (UFL). The new league has two conferences: the USFL and the XFL. The winners of the two conference championship games will play in the inaugural UFL championship game.

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