Birmingham Stallions Win Inaugural USFL Championship, 33-30, In Thrilling Win Over Philadelphia Stars

If you closed your eyes for a moment during the USFL Championship Game broadcast — live from Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, OH — the atmosphere felt like a Sunday night in January.

The championship game — and finale to the revived United States Football League season — between Skip Holtz’s Birmingham Stallions and Bart Andrus’ Philadelphia Stars had all the thrills and stakes to cap off a solid debut season.

Former NFL talent made its mark on the game but the night primarily belonged to the unnamed stars that showed off their Pro Bowl-level moxie.

Birmingham running back Bo Scarbrough was the star of the first half, leading an effective Stallions run-attack that pressured the Stars’ solid defensive unit. The former Lions running back carried the ball 13 times for 135 yards and a touchdown on Sunday night.

Birmingham was up, 20-9, heading into the half.

The Stallions eased off their usage of Scarbrough and switched to backup QB Alex McGough after starter J’Mar Smith sat out due to injury, giving Philadelphia a shot at stealing the momentum in the second half.

Before leaving the game, J’Mar threw a 41-yard dime to Marlon Williams for a 17-9 advantage.

Philadelphia got off to a 14-0 run out of the half, with Stars quarterback Case Cookus waking up for a fierce comeback performance.

The QB showed up big in the fourth.

After a vicious hit from DeMarquis Gates, Cookus bounced back up to throw the go-ahead touchdown. He joked in the sideline interview that his only concern with the helmet-to-helmet hit was finding out if he lost any teeth in the process.

Cookus gave the Stars a three-point lead, 23-20, after connecting with Jordan Suell on a two-point conversion.

Philadelphia’s momentum continued after a pass from McGough went off the hand of a Stallions receiver for a Stars interception.

Everything was going Philly’s way, until Cookus went down with a leg injury after getting wrapped up in a sack. Cookus was carted off the field, drawing support from his teammates as the broadcast touted his leadership status on the Stars team.

Cookus ended the game with 222 passing yards and three touchdowns. He completed 17 of 29 attempts (58.6 percent).

McGough’s outside throw to Victor Bolden, Jr. in the end zone gave Birmingham the lead, 26-23, with three minutes left in the game. The Stallions missed the extra point.

Stallions linebacker Scooby Wright sealed the championship win for Birmingham, jumping a pass attempt by KJ Costello for the pick-six and 10-point lead. 33-23.

Costello responded with one heck of a throw to hit Chris Rowland for a 12-yard touchdown and cut the lead to a three-point deficit, 33-30.

CANTON, OHIO – JULY 03: Scooby Wright III #33 of the Birmingham Stallions celebrates after intercepting a pass and returning it for a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Stars in the USFL Championship game at Tom Benson Hall Of Fame Stadium on July 03, 2022 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Patrick Smith/USFL/Getty Images)
CANTON, OHIO – JULY 03: Alex McGough #2 of the Birmingham Stallions reacts after defeating the Philadelphia Stars 33-30 to win the USFL Championship game at Tom Benson Hall Of Fame Stadium on July 03, 2022 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Patrick Smith/USFL/Getty Images)
CANTON, OHIO – JULY 03: The Birmingham Stallions celebrate with the USFL Championship trophy after defeating the Philadelphia Stars 33-30 to win the USFL Championship game at Tom Benson Hall Of Fame Stadium on July 03, 2022 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Patrick Smith/USFL/Getty Images)

But a win wasn’t in the stars for Philly, and the Stallions marched on to claim the title.

Christian McFarland picked off Costello in the final moments, sending Birmingham’s sideline into celebration.

Birmingham finished the regular season with a 9-1 record and went on to win the inaugural USFL championship.

Victor Bolden, Jr. was named USFL Championship MVP. He tallied 64 receiving yards and a touchdown on six catches and 92 kick-return yards.

Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela

Written by Alejandro Avila

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  1. The USFL had an amazing year! After two leagues had to close up shop early, this league made it, played some great football.

    Looking forward to the next 3 weeks before nfl training camp to see who gets to keep the dream going and then til next year when we get to run this thing back again 😊

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