By Eric D. Williams
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – While some USFL teams are looking for a consistent playmaker at quarterback, New Jersey Generals Head coach Mike Riley continues to use two quarterbacks with great success.
De’Andre Johnson got his first start of the year after leading the Generals to a comeback victory last week, but Luis Perez also played on Saturday, and the two combined to complete 20 of 24 passes for 200 yards. passing and a touchdown in a methodical , 21-13 win over the Pittsburgh Maulers. Generals have never trailed in the contest.
Making his first start this season, Johnson completed 9 of 10 passes for 98 yards and a score, while Perez came off the bench to complete 11 of 14 passes for 102 yards.
“I never did,” Riley said of his two-quarterback system. “I’ve always played with a quarterback all the way, 40 or whatever. So I’m really proud of how these two guys handled it. They’re both preparing really well and work very hard at their craft. I love working with them and my goal is for them both to be ready to play and contribute.”
De’Andre Johnson tricks the Maulers with a 62-yard touchdown
The New Jersey Generals strike first against the Pittsburgh Maulers, 7-0, thanks to De’Andre Johnson’s 62-yard touchdown pass.
Johnson said he’s not worried about rewards at the end of the day, just that his team finds a way to win.
“We hope it works out,” Johnson said. “And obviously so far it’s worked. We just have to keep building. It’s nothing personal or trying to accomplish certain things. Our main goal is to get the ‘W’ and to get into the championship.”
The Generals improved to 3-1 with their third straight win, while the Maulers remain winless at 0-4.
“Football and game days are all about the players,” Pittsburgh head coach Kirby Wilson said. “It always has been, it always will be. And we’re going to have to play hard until the playmakers make their plays. We didn’t have enough today.”
New Jersey rushed for 113 yards last week but struggled to consistently move the ball against Pittsburgh’s strong running defense.
So instead, the general relied on Johnson and Perez. Their primary receiving target was Alonzo Moore, who finished with three receptions for 104 yards.
Alonzo Moore couldn’t be stopped in Generals win
Alonzo Moore rushed for 104 yards to help the New Jersey Generals earn a gutsy win over the Pittsburgh Maulers.
Johnson found Moore wide open on a 62-yard corner drive for the game’s first score and Johnson’s first touchdown pass this season. During the Generals’ next practice, Johnson took a shot in the right thigh during a quarterback run and had to leave the game for further evaluation. He returned on the next trip from New Jersey.
The Generals led by a whopping 11 points, but three missed field goals from Nick Rose kept the game close, and the Maulers had a chance to tie the game in their final practice with 2:30 to go. But Pittsburgh’s drive stalled on New Jersey’s 37-yard line.
“We left a lot of points there,” Riley said. “We had untimely occurrences – a snap over our head in the red zone and a holding penalty while inside our 10-yard line. We just dropped a lot of points there on the pitch, but I thought our balanced quarters went pretty well.”
For Pittsburgh, Kyle Lauletta got his first start this season, going 15 for 32 for 169 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions.
Tre Walker weather
With Bailey Gaither (10 catches for 159 yards, one touchdown on the season) out for the second straight week with illness, Walker has filled the void nicely as the Maulers’ leading passer.
Walker was targeted a game-high 17 times, finishing with nine receptions for 110 yards, including a nimble one-handed catch on his team’s final drive of the game.
Pittsburgh’s Tre Walker leaves against the Generals
Pittsburgh’s Tre Walker has a big receiving day with nine receptions for 110 yards.
Wilson said his team needs more offensive players like Walker to step up and make plays.
“He’s an extremely confident competitor,” Wilson said of Walker. “He thinks he can win at anything, and it doesn’t matter who keeps him. He just feels like he’s the one who’s going to make plays.”
New Jersey linebacker Chris Orr said his team’s defense became more aware of Walker’s position on the field as the game progressed.
“We let him do a little too much today,” Orr said. “I hope he enjoyed it, but he enjoyed his loss a little more.”
Riley and Wilson first met on the court as head coaches.
Riley coached Wilson when he coached defensive backs for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Wilson was a defensive back for the Canadian Football League team.
The two hugged and shared some private moments chatting before the game.
“I’m honored to have coached him,” Riley said. “He’s a great person. It was really fun to be on the pitch with him today.”
Pittsburgh tight end Hunter Thedford got drilled going high to catch a Lauletta seam ball on the first drive of the game. Thedford was taken care of by trainers for several minutes and appeared to be suffering from a chest injury. Thedford went to the injury tent for further assessment but returned to the game.
New Jersey offensive lineman Mike Brown injured his right leg in the first quarter and limped off the field.
Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for over 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 @eric_d_williams.
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