The Stallions faced the Breakers for a third time this season on Saturday. They beat their South Division rival 31-17 in the playoff semifinals to complete the sweep.
The Breakers jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, but the Stallions fell into a groove after that. They got a huge kickoff return touchdown from Victor Bolden Jr. to take a 21-14 halftime lead and then outscored the Breakers 10-3 in the second half. Birmingham led the USFL during the regular season with a plus-65 second-half point differential.
Coach Skip Holtz singled out quarterback J’Mar Smith as the driving force behind Birmingham’s offensive success in the second half.
“When J’Mar is focused and dialed in, he’s pretty good,” Holtz told NBC after the game. “I thought he was pretty good tonight.”
MORE: Watch USFL playoff games live with fuboTV (free trial)
Indeed, Smith was. He completed 17 of 27 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown. He led the team on two scoring drives of 14 or more plays after halftime; the second one, a game-icing touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, took 7:25 off the clock.
Smith also helped lead the Stallions to a turnover-free game, which is something his counterpart, Kyle Sloter (two interceptions), couldn’t do.
As impressed as Holtz was with Smith’s passing performance, the veteran coach thought his running ability made the biggest difference.
“We were struggling running the ball,” Holtz said. “We ran it a bit early but then we struggled; we were getting 2 or 3 yards. And I just told (Smith), ‘If you want to win this game, you’re going to have to carry the ball.’ And I thought he did an unbelievable job.”
Birmingham, which was 9-1 in the regular season, will now look to cap their year with a win in the USFL championship game on Sunday, July 3. The Stallions will face the North Division champion Stars, who upset the Generals 19-14 in Saturday’s first semifinal.
The Sporting News tracked live scoring updates and highlights from Breakers vs. Stallions on Saturday. Below are the complete results from the high-scoring 2022 USFL playoff game.
MORE: Sloter, Scarbrough among USFL players who could make NFL rosters in ’22
All times Eastern.
10:55 p.m. — Sloter finds Cannella, but time runs out. Birmingham is going to the USFL Championship Game.
10:54 p.m. — After two incompletions, Sal Cannella makes another big catch and run. Maybe the Breakers can set up for a Hail Mary, but after a first-down incompletion, there are just six seconds left.
10:51 p.m. — The Stallions squib kick it and the clock runs down to 34 seconds left. Kyle Sloter returns to the field, down 14 looking for a last-gasp miracle.
10:49 p.m. — TOUCHDOWN. In a surprising move, the Stallions run a quarterback sneak with J’Mar Smith and get a touchdown with just 39 seconds on the clock. That score will ice the game and completes the 7:25 drive.
ANOTHER ONE 🐎@jMar_Smith had to do it 👋
📺: @NBCSports | @PeacockTV pic.twitter.com/1GGSpM8mVr
10:47 p.m. — The Stallions run six seconds off the clock with a running play. There are 45 seconds left and New Orleans has called its final timeout. If the Stallions can run 10 seconds off the clock on third down, they will win the game.
10:44 p.m. — Scarbrough pushes forward for a short gain. The Breakers call their second timeout with 51 seconds left as the Stallions face second down. If New Orleans gets the ball back, there will be only about 10 seconds left on the clock at most.
10:43 p.m. — The Stallions call a T-formation run on third-and-2, and they convert. The Breakers will have to use their timeouts with 1:19 left on the clock.
10:38 p.m. — Smith runs another QB draw and gets enough for a first down. The Stallions are at the Breakers’ 18-yard line, and New Orleans is in trouble, down seven as we reach the two-minute warning.
10:36 p.m. — Smith finds Hardy for another big gain off a slant. The Stallions get the ball to the Breakers’ 35-yard line and are right near field goal range. They soon will have a chance to make this a two-score game… if they don’t run out the clock first.
MADE FOR MOMENTS LIKE THIS 😤@jMar_Smith doing his THING 😎
📺: @NBCSports | @PeacockTV pic.twitter.com/GUZoTF5BvL
10:33 p.m. — The Stallions quickly put the delay of game penalty in the rearview mirror. An 11-yard catch by Adrian Hardy sets up a 5-yard quarterback draw for J’Mar Smith. First down, Birmingham with 5:22 left in the game.
10:32 p.m. — Well, maybe not that much time. The Stallions are whistled for a delay of game penalty. They now are facing a first-and-15.
10:31 p.m. — The Stallions get a first down on a J’Mar Smith bullet to Osirus Mitchell. They now can run more time off the clock with 6:22 left in the fourth quarter.
BIG connection on 3rd down 🔥@jMar_Smith ➡️ @OMitchellV
📺: @NBCSports | @PeacockTV pic.twitter.com/pIJdDyQXRk
10:26 p.m. — This time, the Breakers are unable to convert the third-and-long. Sloter throws a bit behind Taywan Taylor, who can’t make the catch through contact. The Breakers are forced to punt, and the Stallions get the ball inside their own 15 with 8:24 left in the game.
10:23 p.m. — New Orleans burns a timeout before a third-and-9. They now have two remaining.
10:21 p.m. — The Breakers stay red-hot on third-and-long, and Sal Cannella gets over 100 yards for the game. New Orleans is now over midfield, down seven with under 10 minutes remaining.
10:20 p.m. — Sloter is hit as he throws yet again. Nobody gets to the ball, but it sets up a third-and-10 for the Breakers, who are 4 of 5 on third-and-7-plus today.
10:19 p.m. — The Breakers begin their latest drive with another third-down conversion on a short Jordan Ellis run. Sal Cannella has nine catches for 95 yards, and seems poised to go over 100 yards for the game in short order.
10:13 p.m. — FIELD GOAL. On third-and-9, the Breakers surprise the Stallions and play zone. Smith still had Bolden wide open in the end zone, but overshot him under pressure. Brandon Aubrey makes the 38-yard field goal and the Stallions extend their lead to seven.
3️⃣ more for us 💪@Brandon_Aubrey completes the FG ✅
📺: @NBCSports | @PeacockTV pic.twitter.com/anD3h6b3p7
10:10 p.m. — Skip Holtz dials up a quarterback draw at the perfect time. Smith runs right past a blitzer and takes the ball to the Breakers’ 20-yard line. The Stallions are threatening to make this a two-score game.
💨 @jMar_Smith showing his athleticism 🐎
📺: @NBCSports | @PeacockTV pic.twitter.com/8O289D9Sx5
10:07 p.m. — The Breakers have missed so many scoring opportunities during the game and have a negative-2 turnover differential. Even their social media team seems to be bemoaning their missed opportunities.
📺: @NBCSports | @PeacockTV pic.twitter.com/4OrOiAM3Ka
10:05 p.m. — The Stallions’ running game is continuing to hum. Bo Scarbrough is starting to wear on the Breakers defense as Birmingham crosses midfield and nears field goal range as the third quarter ends.
The @USFLStallions have been going with the classic T formation in the second half 😤
📺: @NBCSports @peacockTV pic.twitter.com/6mz3MvUIrr
10:04 p.m. — J’Mar Smith nearly made a critical mistake on first down. He was under pressure off play action and threw the ball off his back foot. Breakers linebacker Jerod Fernandez nearly got to it, but he came up just short of the diving interception.
10:03 p.m. — The Stallions come out in a T formation on third-and-1. Bo Scarbrough gets the one yard needed to convert a first down.
9:58 p.m. — The Breakers field goal drive was a long one in more ways than one. It spanned 17 plays and took the first 10:21 of the third quarter off the clock. Birmingham will now get the ball back for the first time since the Hail Mary at the end of the second quarter.
9:56 p.m. — FIELD GOAL. Sloter did well to avoid pressure and get a pass off, but the Stallions hold strong and knock the ball away from Sal Cannella. Taylor Bertolet ends the 17-play drive with a short field goal to cut the deficit to four.
.@TaylorBertolet‘s kick is GOOD
We trail by 4 🌊
📺: @NBCSports | @PeacockTV pic.twitter.com/o5msOYnxKF
9:55 p.m. — On second-and-goal, Jonathan Adams gets open in the end zone, but once again, he and Sloter couldn’t connect. It’s third down for the Breakers.
9:54 p.m. — New Orleans notches another third-down conversion. Cannella finds a weak spot in Birmingham’s zone defense and Sloter gets it to him with ease. First and goal, Breakers.
9:53 p.m. — Sloter just misses Sal Cannella in the end-zone for an open touchdown. The ball was tipped en route to the tight end. That sets up a third-and-11 for the Breakers.
9:51 p.m. — Sloter’s third-down groove continues. He converts a third-and-18 on a dart to Johnnie Dixon. The Breakers’ offensive line protected Sloter well on the 23-yard gain.
9:48 p.m. — After a risky flip pass by Sloter that fortunately fell incomplete, the Breakers quarterback finds Sal Cannella on third-and-12. That puts the Breakers just outside of field goal range.
9:46 p.m. — Anthony Jones is really getting it going to start the half. He takes his fourth straight carry up the middle and the Breakers are at midfield.
9:45 p.m. — We’re back in action, and New Orleans gains eight yards on its first play from scrimmage. Anthony Jones follows that up with another run for a first down, as he is starting to get it going a bit.
9:44 p.m. — The Breakers outgained the Stallions by nearly 100 yards in the first half but still trail be seven. That’s largely thanks to Victor Bolden’s kick return touchdown.
9:34 p.m. — Sloter had two interceptions in the first half against Birmingham, giving him six for the season against the Stallions. He has seven against the USFL’s other six teams combined.
9:32 p.m. — Something to watch coming out of halftime: J’Mar Smith had his helmet off and his fingers in his ears after his Hail Mary attempt. He wasn’t hit hard on the play, but it’s worth monitoring nonetheless.
9:31 p.m. — The Stallions got across midfield, but they couldn’t get any further. Their Hail Mary sails out of bounds and that ends the first half.
9:28 p.m. — Indeed, Sloter and Morris’ missed connection proves costly. Tae Hayes jumps a route a picks off Sloter. The Stallions now have the ball with 22 seconds left. They will look to get into field goal range.
GIDDY UP, BIRMINGHAM 🐎
📺: @NBCSports | @PeacockTV pic.twitter.com/9vmdgmHVEC
9:27 p.m. — Oof, Sloter had Lee Morris for a 33-yard touchdown, but Morris couldn’t find the ball. That could prove costly.
9:25 p.m. — Anthony Jones gets the Breakers started with a 30-yard gain off a screen pass. New Orleans is now on the verge of field goal range at the Birmingham 33-yard line.
9:24 p.m. — Ezra Gray makes another nice return and gets it to the 37-yard line. The Breakers have 47 seconds and two timeouts left as they look to answer the Stallions.
9:22 p.m. — TOUCHDOWN. Well, the tie didn’t last long. Victor Bolden Jr. takes the ensuing kickoff return to the house, as the Breakers parted right up the middle and Bolden broke two tackles to get to the house. The Stallions are back out in front with 53 seconds left in the first half.
We can watch this replay all night long 🔁🐎
Take a bow, @vicbolden 👏
📺: @NBCSports | @PeacockTV pic.twitter.com/eIyNFxNSOB
9:19 p.m. — TOUCHDOWN. Larry Fedora makes the gutsy call to go for it on fourth-and-4, and it pays off. Sloter dumps it off to running back Jordan Ellis, who breaks a tackle and gets into open space. After a block from Sal Cannella, Ellis finds his way into the end zone to tie things up after Bertolet makes the extra point.
Jordan Ellis takes it to the house on 4th &4 😱🌊🌊
📺: @NBCSports | @PeacockTV pic.twitter.com/qUMe4lZ9Gl
9:15 p.m. — The Breakers faced another third down, but Sloter misfired low to an open Anthony Jones out of the backfield. On fourth-and-4 from the Birmingham 35, New Orleans has a decision to make. The Breakers had the offense on the field but called timeout before they could run a play.
9:10 p.m. — Cannella is having a big drive. He just caught another mid-length pass for a first down. That’s followed up by a connection between Sloter and Jonathan Adams that gets the Breakers over midfield. New Orleans is on the move as we reach the two-minute warning.
9:08 p.m. — A wild sequence in Canton: the Breakers notch a third-down conversion, but its called back by offensive pass interference. On the next play, Sloter finds Cannella, who makes some magic happen after the catch to get the first down… except he fumbles. The Stallions have a clear shot at it, but they end up putting it back in the Breakers’ hands. So, after all that, first down, New Orleans.
Just how we drew it up 😅
📺: @NBCSports @peacockTV pic.twitter.com/WxToQ3F0DG
9:02 p.m. — The Stallions stall out after picking up a first down. Smith went to Scarbrough on third down with the Breakers blitzing again, but Jerod Fernandez tackled Scarbrough two yards shy of the first. Colby Wadman punts it down to the Breakers’ 12-yard line, and the field has been flipped once again.
A BIG third down stop from @J4nando 👏🌊🌊
📺: @NBCSports | @PeacockTV pic.twitter.com/sSzvZZqVQ0
9:00 p.m. — New Orleans has a coverage bust on second down, and that allows J’Mar Smith to find Adrian Hardy for a 23-yard gain.
8:56 p.m. — Well, the Breakers almost converted the third-and-19, but they come up a yard short. They decide to punt, and it’s a good choice. Matt White gets a great roll on his punt and the Stallions are backed up to their own 9-yard line.
8:54 p.m. — The Breakers’ response hasn’t been great. Jordan Ellis was tackled four a big loss on a first-down dump-off. Then, after Jonathan Adams made a nice catch to set up a third-and-manageable, he is whistled for taunting. Third-and-19 for the Breakers.
😤 @Y_DGates is just everywhere in the first half
📺: @NBCSports @peacockTV pic.twitter.com/NgoROnTWJy
8:51 p.m. — Sloter has now thrown five interceptions in 10 quarters of football against the Stallions. He will have to respond to his latest as the Breakers trail for the first time in their playoff history.
8:48 p.m. — TOUCHDOWN. Two plays after a nearly disastrous pick-six, Sloter actually throws one. Sloter was hit on the play and the ball knuckled into DeMarquis Gates’ arms. Gates returns it all the way for a touchdown to give the Stallions a seven-point lead.
PICK. 6. 😤@Y_DGates WITH THE BIG TIME PLAY 🔥
📺: @NBCSports | @PeacockTV pic.twitter.com/FBgv21d6PB
8:47 p.m. — Noel Mazzone dials up a nice play on third down. Johnnie Dixon comes out of the backfield and makes a man miss after Sloter hits him with the short pass. First down, Breakers.
8:46 p.m. — After picking up a first down, Sloter nearly makes a crushing mistake. Tae Hayes made a break on an out route and Sloter was late on the throw. Hayes couldn’t intercept it, but if he did, it may have gone the other way for six.
8:44 p.m. — The Breakers get a solid return out of Ezra Gray, who breaks a couple of tackles and gets the ball to the 34-yard line. Sloter and Co. return to the field, looking to score again on their second drive.
8:42 p.m. — Kyle Sloter has been dealing with a plethora of injuries during the USFL season. He confirmed to sideline reporter Corey Robinson after New Orleans’ first touchdown that he isn’t operating at 100 percent; his coach classified it at closer to 70 percent.
“I’m dealing with a little bit of something, but it feels good to get back out there.”@USFLBreakers QB Kyle Sloter checks in after their opening TD 🌊
📺: @NBCSports @peacockTV pic.twitter.com/HCai9CRRZr
8:40 p.m. — TOUCHDOWN. New Orleans brings an all-out blitz on third-and-8, but the Stallions are ready for it. J’Mar Smith finds Osirus Mitchell for an easy score. Brandon Aubrey converts on the extra point, and we have a tie game at the 14:50 mark in the second quarter.
TOUCHDOWN! 🐎@jMar_Smith ➡️ @OMitchellV 🥳
📺: @NBCSports | @PeacockTV pic.twitter.com/BCQ2kYiXUm
8:36 p.m. — Bolden catches a screen pass for a two-yard gain as the first quarter comes to an end. The Stallions have the ball at New Orleans’ 23-yard line, but the Breakers will lead after the first.
8:34 p.m. — Scarbrough makes another man miss on a checkdown out of the backfield. Birmingham is now in field goal range, but Scarbrough leaves the field for a moment, appearing winded.
8:33 p.m. — The Stallions convert another first down on a third-and-11. Smith dumped the ball off to Bo Scarbrough, who made Adonis Alexander miss a tackle to make the line to gain.
8:31 p.m. — Osirus Mitchell makes a great high-point catch to cross midfield. He had to go way up to get it and was hit hard coming to the ground. The Stallions have another first down and are getting closer to field goal range.
👀 @OMitchellV with the grab 💪
📺: @NBCSports | @PeacockTV pic.twitter.com/yjt4GZGli3
8:30 p.m. — J’Mar Smith faces a third-and-5 and is able to convert it. He gets the ball to Marlon Williams, who gets just past the line to gain for the second Stallions first down of the contest.
Move those chains 👏@jMar_Smith ➡️ @TheReall__6
📺: @NBCSports | @PeacockTV pic.twitter.com/ChvtcMtD2h
8:27 p.m. — The Breakers are better on kick coverage the second time around. They force Victor Bolden Jr. out of bounds at the Stallions’ 30. Smith and Co. return and look to answer the Breakers’ opening score.
8:24 p.m. — Interesting note: New Orleans ran it on all three of their third-and-goal opportunities. Two were zone reads and the third was a pitch. We’ll see if that trend continues in the red zone.
8:23 p.m. —TOUCHDOWN. The Breakers strike first on a third-and-goal run by USFL’s rushing leader, Jordan Ellis. Sloter pitches him the ball and he gets the angle to get through the Birmingham defense. Taylor Bertolet converts on the extra point to make it a 7-0 game.
JORDAN ELLIS FINDS THE ENDZONE 🌊
What an opening drive‼️
📺: @NBCSports | @PeacockTV pic.twitter.com/wUQz50sCQu
8:20 p.m. — The Breakers convert their first third-down attempt of the game despite Sloter being under pressure. He saw tight end Sal Cannella over the middle fo the field and flipped the ball to him while being grabbed by DeMarquis Gates. First and goal, Breakers.
What a heads up play by @KyleSloter 👏🌊
Nothing was bringing the @USFLBreakers QB down
📺: @NBCSports @peacockTV pic.twitter.com/IB1s5sHbYg
8:18 p.m. — New Orleans gets off to a great start on their first play from scrimmage. Kyle Sloter finds Taywan Taylor, who makes a one-handed catch for a big game. Now, the Breakers are in field goal range at the 31.
Taywan Taylor only needs one hand 🔥
What a start by the @USFLBreakers
📺: @NBCSports @peacockTV pic.twitter.com/NWePIbYpJc
8:16 p.m. — The Breakers are certainly motivated to beat the Stallions for the first time this season. Center Jared Thomas was pumped up about not losing a third time in his pregame speech. We’ll see if that carries over to their first offensive drive.
“We’re not going down 3 times… We’re waving bye to them tonight!”
Jared Thomas’ pregame speech will get you PUMPED 😤 pic.twitter.com/w1w9H7J874
8:15 p.m. — MISSED FIELD GOAL. Aubrey’s field goal attempt is NO GOOD, missing just wide to the left. The Stallions remain scoreless and after the stop, the Breakers are set up near midfield for their first possession.
8:14 p.m. — After getting the first down, the Stallions sputter. Marable gains three but then Smith bobbles a snap and Osirus Mitchell drops a potential first-down catch. They’ll attempt a long field goal.
8:12 p.m. — Birmingham is already in scoring range. C.J. Marable rips off solid gains on his first two carries to get to the 32-yard line. They are in field goal range for former MLS player turned kicker, Brandon Aubrey.
8:10 p.m. — New Orleans is kicking off to start the game. Taylor Bertolet kicks the ball deep to Victor Bolden Jr., who brings it back to the Breakers’ 45-yard line. J’Mar Smith will start the game with great field position.
8:07 p.m. — The National Anthem is in the books, so the game will begin imminently. NBC is just getting in one more commercial break before it starts.
8:03 p.m. — Breakers coach Larry Fedora has one goal for today’s game. “Take care of the ball,” he says. Sloter threw four interceptions in two games against Birmingham.
8:02 p.m. — The teams are taking the field, with the Stallions wearing red and the Breakers in white. The broadcasters, Jac Collinsworth and Jason Garrett, are noting that Birmingham has yet to play outside its home city, so this game could be a test for them.
7:54 p.m. — Breakers quarterback Kyle Sloter is ready to go today, and he is going to be backed up by Shea Patterson instead of Zach Smith. Patterson outplayed Smith, who was Sloter’s regular backup all season long, so Larry Fedora evidently feels better with Patterson in reserve for this playoff game.
7:45 p.m. — The Philadelphia Stars pulled off the upset of the New Jersey Generals earlier in the day thanks to a late punt return touchdown by Maurice Alexander. That means that the winner of Breakers vs. Stallions will take on the Bart Andrus-coached, Case Cookus-backed Stars, who went 6-4 during the regular season.
7:30 p.m. — Both the Breakers and Stallions were hyped up as they prepared to play at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Here’s video of each squad heading into the game.
TUNE-SQUAD 🤣😜#GeauxBlueWave 🌊 pic.twitter.com/RuKNhHHuV1
The second USFL playoff game of the league’s semifinal Saturday will be broadcast on NBC. Jac Collinsworth will be the play-by-play announcer for the game while former Cowboys coach Jason Garrett will provide analysis.
Corey Robinson will serve as the sideline reporter with Sara Perlman hosting halftime coverage.
Cord cutters will be able to watch Saturday’s game with fuboTV, which will provide access to all three of the USFL’s playoff games in 2022 and comes with a free trial.
The Breakers vs. Stallions game will begin at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 25. The contest will take place at Tom Benson Stadium, which is located at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.