New Jersey Generals Defense Steps Up In 10-6 Victory Over Michigan Panthers

High-powered, passing offenses might be the trend in 2022, but that didn't preclude the New Jersey Generals (1-1) from pounding the rock en route to a 10-6 victory over the Michigan Panthers (0-2) Friday night.

One week after running the ball 19 consecutive times at one point, New Jersey ran the ball 32 times for 113 yards against Michigan, with running back Darius Victor leading the way. Victor rushed for 40 yards on 11 carries and a score, the only General to hit pay dirt.

Victor's two-yard touchdown scamper with two minutes left in the second quarter gave New Jersey a 10-6 lead that they wouldn't relinquish.

The two-quarterback system, comprised of Luis Perez and De'Andre Johnson, was back at it again Friday night, with Perez used primarily on passing downs and Johnson during rushing situations. Perez finished 13-of-19 for 97 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception. Johnson, meanwhile, completed 5-of-6 passes for 48 yards, but also rushed for 27 yards on the ground on 10 carries.

Hardly the offensive performance that head coach Mike Riley was looking for, but compared to the Panthers' offense, the Generals looked like the 84' Dolphins. No. 1 overall pick Shea Patterson was unable to create any spark in head coach Jeff Fisher's offense, completing just 14-of-29 passes for 124 yards. 27 of those came on the Panthers' longest play of the night with 49 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

But it was on that final drive where Patterson seemed to have found something. Backed into his own end zone, Patterson razzle dazzled his way to a 4th and 20 conversion and completed four passes in a row to give Michigan a chance. Now down to the New Jersey 16-yard line with five seconds remaining, Patterson needed a fifth straight completion -- but watched his bid at a walk-off touchdown fall incomplete in the direction of receiver Lance Lenoir Jr.

Even with Patterson struggling up until the final drive, Fisher never once turned to backup quarterback Paxton Lynch, who played sparingly in Michigan's 17-12 loss to the Houston Gamblers (1-0) on Saturday.

The Generals' defense, despite producing just two sacks, often times had Patterson scrambling outside the pocket, and surrendered just one score all night. That came via running back Cameron Scarlett, who punched it in from four yards out with 13:39 remaining in the second quarter.

The Panthers, despite entering with the highest odds to win the inaugural USFL championship, are suddenly winless, having scored just 18 points. The next challenge awaits in the form of the Pittsburgh Maulers (0-1) next Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on USA.

The Generals probably feel like they should be the first 2-0 team in the USFL after last Saturday's collapse against the Birmingham Stallions (1-0), but will instead be looking to go over .500 against the Philadelphia Stars (0-1) next Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on Peacock.

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Nick Geddes is a 2021 graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. A life-long sports enthusiast, Nick shares a passion for sports writing and is proud to represent OutKick.