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Stallions advance to the league championship game

On Saturday, the Birmingham Stallions won the USFL Conference Championship game, defeating the Michigan Panthers for the third time this season. The Stallions improved 10 and 1 on the year with the 31 to 18 playoffs victory.

This is the third year of the Stallions' existence and the third time that they have played in the league championship game. 10,287 fans were on hand in Birmingham's Protective Stadium to watch the Stallions beat the Panthers in a fourth quarter comeback.

Head Coach Skip Holtz has led the Stallions to back-to-back USFL league championships. In the offseason, the USFL and XFL merged, shutting down 8 teams in the process, to create the Ultimate Football League (UFL). Now the Stallions will play in the inaugural UFL Championship game.

It wasn't easy. The Stallions were down 18 to 3 at halftime.

"Two great teams competing it out, neither team wanted to lose," said Coach Holtz. "For our players their resolve, their determination is absolutely special. I think there is a lot of talent on this team, but there is a lot of talent on every team in this league."

The offense struggled, leading Coach Holtz to replace starting quarterback Adrian Martinez with Matt Corral.

"I felt we needed a spark offensively," said Holtz. "I said all along I thought we had two starting quarterbacks."

"Coach does a good job of putting us in place to get done what we got to get done," said Corral. "I thought we needed to take it one play at a time."

Holtz stayed with Corral even though he threw an interception off a tipped pass on his third play in the game.

"Once I made the decision I was going with Matt, I didn't see any reason for going back," Holtz said. "I don't think that first interception was even his. The receiver rocked back instead of staying in place."

"We wouldn't be here without Adrian Martinez, and the job that he did, but I believe Matt is a very talented quarterback" Holtz said in the post-game press conference. "We have two very capable quarterbacks, and we will make the decision to play the guy that gives us the best chance to win the football game."

Holtz credited the defense with taking over the game. The Panthers scored 18 points off six field goals in the first half, in the second half the Stallions defense outscored the Panthers offense 6 to 0.

The Stallions advance to the UFL Championship Game on Sunday, June 16 at The Dome at America's Center in St. Louis. They will play the winner of the XFL Conference Championship game Sunday between the St. Louis Battlehawks and the San Antonio Brahmas.

The UFL championship game will be at 4:00 p.m. CDT on Fox.

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