USFL Score, highlights: New Jersey Generals clinch a spot in the playoffs, defeat Tampa Bay Bandits, 20-13

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The New Jersey Generals are the first team in the USFL to secure a playoff spot, defeating the Tampa Bay Bandits 20-13. New Jersey, leading the North Division, moves to 6-1 and extends their winning streak.

New Jersey got out to an early lead and were up 17-3 at halftime. After a scoreless third quarter for the Generals, they faced a fourth quarter surge from Tampa Bay. The Bandits outscored the Generals 10-3 in the second half and nearly tied the game, as quarterback Jordan Ta’amu led his team all the way down to the New Jersey 12-yard line late in the fourth quarter. The Generals defense held strong to clinch the win and their spot in the playoffs.

The Generals were led by backup quarterback Luis Perez after starter De’Andre Johnson sustained a left ankle injury in last week’s game against Houston. Perez completed 19 of 25 attempts for 174 yards, including one touchdown pass to KaVontae Turpin. Running back Darius Victor continued his dominance on the ground, leading New Jersey in rushing with 72 yards and one touchdown. Generals kicker Austin Jones completed two of three field goal attempts on the day.

Tampa Bay moves to 3-4, with their first losing streak of the season. They sit in third place in the South Division behind the New Orleans Breakers. New Orleans faces the Michigan Panthers later tonight in Birmingham.

The top two teams in each division will advance to the playoffs following the 10-week regular season. The playoff games will take place on Saturday, June 25 in Canton, Ohio.

Head coaches for the New Jersey Generals and Tampa Bay Bandits

The Generals and Bandits are two of three teams in the USFL with head coaches who have NFL head coaching experience. New Jersey is led by 68-year-old Mike Riley, who was the head coach of the San Diego Chargers for three seasons from 1999-2001. His most recent head coaching job came in 2019, where he led the San Antonio Commanders in the AAF.

Meanwhile the Bandits are led by Todd Haley, who spent 22 seasons as an NFL coach, including three seasons with the Chiefs. He has worked as the offensive coordinator for the Cardinals, Steelers and Browns. The Cardinals appeared in Super Bowl XLIII during his tenure. Haley also had coaching stints with the Bears and Cowboys.

Generals vs. Bandits score, results, highlights

Final score: New Jersey Generals 20, Tampa Bay Bandits 13

1st quarter, 5:37 (Generals): L.Perez pass short right complete to TB 14. Catch made by K.Turpin at TB 14. Gain of 15 yards. K.Turpin for 15 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

2nd quarter, 14:46 (Bandits): T.Rausa 34 yard field goal attempt is good, Center-R.DiSalvo, Holder-B.Wright.

2nd quarter, 7:42 (Generals): D.Victor rushed to TB End Zone for 6 yards. D.Victor for 6 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

2nd quarter, 2:00 (Generals): A.Jones 35 yard field goal attempt is good, Center-S.Flanick, Holder-.

3rd quarter, 0:16 (Bandits): T.Rausa 37 yard field goal attempt is good, Center-R.DiSalvo, Holder-.

4th quarter, 12:05 (Generals): A.Jones 43 yard field goal attempt is good, Center-S.Flanick, Holder-.

4th quarter, 10:06 (Bandits): J.Ta’amu pass deep middle complete to NJ End Zone. Catch made by J.Franklin at NJ End Zone. Gain of 20 yards. J.Franklin for 20 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

Generals vs. Bandits reaction and coverage

2:58 p.m. EST: Tampa Bay turns it over on downs. The Generals take over and let the clock wind down. Final score from Birmingham: New Jersey 30, Tampa Bay 13.

2:52 p.m. EST: Jordan Ta’amu leads the Bandits down into New Jersey territory on a critical drive. Tampa Bay face second-and-12 at the New Jersey 16 with 0:49 left in the game.

2:35 p.m. EST: Tampa Bay converts on fourth-and-3 to keep their drive alive. Ta’amu finds Derrick Dillon for a gain of 14 yards.

2:22 p.m. EST: Ta’amu finds John Franklin III for a 20-yard touchdown. Rausa’s extra point is good to cut Tampa Bay’s deficit to 7 with 10:02 left on the clock.

New Jersey 20, Tampa Bay 13

2:15 p.m. EST: Tampa Bay holds New Jersey to a field goal attempt. Austin Jones’ 43-yard attempt is good to extend the Generals’ lead.

New Jersey 20, Tampa Bay 6 with 12:00 left to play.

2:12 p.m. EST: Luis Perez finds Alonzo Moore on second-and-10 for a gain of 35. The Generals are down at the Tampa Bay 27.

2:08 p.m. EST: The clock winds down, bringing us to the end of the third quarter. The Generals will have the ball on their own 39 to start the fourth in Birmingham.

2:05 p.m. EST: Tyler Rausa’s 37-yard field goal attempt is good. Tampa Bay trails 17-6 with 0:16 left in the third quarter.

2:03 p.m. EST: The Bandits go for it on fourth-and-10. Ta’amu keeps the ball and runs for a gain of 11 to keep the drive alive.

1:47 p.m. EST: Jordan Ta’amu throws his third interception of the day, ending an otherwise promising opening drive for Tampa Bay to start the second half. Ta’amu’s pass was picked off by Shalom Luani and the Generals will take over at their own 13.

1:24 p.m. EST: Another interception for Dravon Askew-Henry! Askew-Henry picks off Jordan Ta’amu’s pass and the Generals take over as time winds down in the half.

New Jersey 17, Tampa Bay 3 at halftime.

1:17 p.m. EST: The Generals are held to a field goal attempt. Austin Jones is good from 35 yards to extend New Jersey’s lead.

Generals 17, Bandits 3 with 2:00 left in the half.

1:04 p.m. EST: Austin Jones’ 52-yard field goal attempt is no good for the Generals.

1:02 p.m. EST: Generals pick! Jordan Ta’amu’s pass is intercepted by Dravon Askew-Henry. New Jersey will take over at the Tampa Bay 35.

12:55 p.m. EST: Darius Victor rushes six yards into the end zone for the Generals. Austin Jones’ extra point is good and New Jersey continues to lead.

Generals 14, Bandits 3 with 7:28 left in the half.

12:38 p.m. EST: Tyler Rausa’s 34-yard field goal attempt is good and the Bandits are on the board.

New Jersey 7, Tampa Bay 3 with 14:42 left in the second quarter.

12:33 p.m. EST: That’s the end of the first quarter. Generals lead 7-0.

12:30 p.m. EST: The Bandits go for it on fourth-and-3. Jordan Ta’amu connects with Corbin Kaufusi for a gain of 31 yards and the Bandits are down to New Jersey’s 17-yard line.

12:22 p.m. EST: Touchdown New Jersey! Luis Perez finds KaVontae Turpin for a 15-yard touchdown.

Austin Jones’ extra point is good. Generals 7, Bandits 0 with 5:40 left in the first quarter.

Everything you need to know about the USFL:

What time and channel is the Generals vs. Bandits?

RELATED: How to watch the New Jersey Generals vs. Tampa Bay Bandits

  • When: Saturday, May 28 at 12:00 p.m. ET on USA Network
  • Where: Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Alabama

Control what you can control: How journey through the fire led Generals RB Darius Victor to the USFL

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“Life feels good when you’re winning,” says one of the men responsible for the Generals’ success last season, running back Darius Victor. “I’m playing the game I love, my team is winning games, and that’s all a man can ask for.”

Victor was named the USFL’s Offensive Player of the Year after leading the league with nine rushing touchdowns, ranking third in rushing yards (577), and fourth in yards per game (57.7). At 5’8″ and 209 pounds, with 30-inch quads (yes, you read that right…30 inches), the Generals RB is a wrecking ball on the field.

“Thick thighs save lives,” Victor recalls as he laughs about the Week 5 game-winning play. “I had to put them to use and push him [Perez] over to the endzone.”

With his light-hearted demeanor and self-described goofball personality, it would be hard to fathom the hell Darius Victor has walked through to get to where he is today.

“I’m not even supposed to be here”

Victor, who is one of seven children (4 brothers, and 2 sisters), was born in 1994 in a refugee camp in Africa’s Ivory Coast after his parents, Gary and Patricia, fled the first Liberian Civil War.

“Have you ever seen the movie Blood Diamond?” Victor asks, “That’s the type of environment I was born into.”

Victor and his family literally ran for their lives, hiding and sleeping in bushes for safety when their country was being torn apart by violence and bloodshed. Nearly 250,000 people — men, women, and children — lost their lives in Liberia’s civil war.

“I was too young to remember what happened at the time,” Victor told NBC Sports. “But from the stories my parents have told me about what we were running away from, I’m not even supposed to be here.”

The Victor family moved to the U.S. in 1999 and lived in Manassas, Virginia before moving to Hyattsville, Maryland, in 2002. After leaving everything behind, Gary and Patrica worked tirelessly to provide for their family and while their parents were out just trying to make ends meet, all seven of the Victor siblings Velma, Earl, Kevin, Darius, Leon, Shaka, and Nicole — looked out for one another. Helping with homework, making sure everyone was fed, and involved in activities. For Kevin and Darius in particular, that activity was football.

Sibling Rivalry

“My older brother Kevin was my role model growing up,” Victor recalls. “I used to go with him to football practice and he was pretty good. He was a Boys and Girls Club legend. I had to compete with him in everything and I wanted to be better than him in everything that I did. So I started playing football and tried really hard to be better than him. Having that role model to follow is what really gave me a love for the game.”

The duo, four years apart in age, went on to play football at Northwestern High School, sharpening each other with their competitive nature both on and off the field. But everything changed in December 2011, when Kevin was tragically shot and killed walking home from the local community center after playing basketball with friends — just one block away from his family’s apartment.

“Losing a child and a sibling is crazy,” Victor said. “It was tough but it made us even closer as a family. It made me go even harder because Kevin was always the tough one on me. When we were kids I would always cry on the football field if something didn’t go my way and Kevin would straighten me out.”

“His passing has given me a mindset of toughness and resiliency. I’m always thinking about him and trying to live up to the level of confidence that he had in me.”

In October, just 10 months after Kevin’s passing, Darius was in the midst of a breakout senior season when the Victor family’s apartment burned down.

“The toughest part wasn’t even losing our stuff but it was seeing my Mom and Dad cry again. That was so tough on me.” Darius recalls. “At that point in my life, I had to decide to never question God, believe that everything happens for a reason, and control what I could control.”

Towson Tough

With family at the forefront of his mind, Victor decided to play football at Towson University, where he earned a scholarship, roughly 45 minutes away from his hometown. He earned First-Team All-CAA honors in 2014, rushing for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns on 250 carries, but says he also a learned new level of toughness from his coaches and teammates that he still keeps in contact with today.

“Coach Reno Ferri really believed in me and that gave me so much confidence,” Victor said. “But there are so many guys there that really spoke into my life including my teammates FB Dreon Johnson, RB Terrance West, and coaches Rob and Jared Ambrose.”

Stay Ready

Victor, who only played in 4 games during his senior year of college due to a toe injury, went undrafted after graduating from Towson in 2017 but had several opportunities with NFL teams. Victor received an invite to the New York Jets rookie minicamp, the New Orleans Saints training camp, and even landed a spot on the Arizona Cardinals practice squad but unfortunately, those opportunities didn’t end the way he wanted them to.

However, the Hyattsville native didn’t let that discourage him.

“I’ve been through so much in life that I’ve grasped the concept of controlling what you control,” the 28-year-old said. “One of my mottos is to stay ready so you don’t have to get ready so doing that and just trusting God made me available mentally and physically for the next opportunity.”

For Victor, that meant showing up to train long hours after working a 9-5 job every day as a Sales Operations Manager at Penske and staying consistent no matter what — even when the CFL signed and cut him a day before he was supposed to leave for Canada (2019) and when the XFL season came to a sudden halt in the midst of a global pandemic (2020).

But when the USFL finally called, selecting him in the 6th round of the Supplemental Draft, he was ready. Victor says his love for his family and his faith in God is what fueled him during the hard times in life.

“Knowing all that my family has been through and the fact that we’re not even supposed to be here, every day I get is a blessing and I just want to make them proud. They are my why, ” says Victor, who is often spotted wearing merchandise with the phrase “Keep God 1st” on his clothing.

“I don’t care if you are a millionaire or dirt poor…life is going to life, but if you put God first everything will work itself out and that’s how I live my life.”

First and 10 with Darius Victor

To what do you attribute the New Jersey Generals’ early success?

“We have great coaching and great leadership. The team is very close and we hold each other accountable because we all have the same goal. We’ve all been through similar experiences. I’m pretty sure I’ve talked to 30 or 38 players who’ve been cut multiple times too and that creates a bond.”

“Also, we have a little chip on our shoulder because in preseason we were projected to finish last in the league due to our ‘talent level’, so shout out to whoever released those preseason polls because it made us hungry.”

If someone were to be a fly on the wall in the locker room, what’s one thing that they’d be surprised to find out about the New Jersey Generals?

“After a win, we do a ‘hip, hip hooray’ chant. Coach Riley goes ‘hip hip’ and the rest of the team goes ‘hooray’. It’s the greatest thing ever.”

What’s your role on the team?

“I’m one of the older guys on the team so I consider myself to be one of the leaders and the ‘special teams captain’. Coach always jokes around and says I’m the heart and soul of the team. I just want to do everything I can to make this team successful.”

How would you describe your style as a running back?

“I think I’m pretty balanced but the thing that separates me the most is my physicality. I don’t think a lot of human beings can run the football like me. If you just watch the tape or just watch the football games, that’s how I stand out.”

Pre-game hype song?

“I have to listen to the song “I’m a dog” by Gucci Mane that puts me in my zone.

Gameday superstitions?

“I have a superman Jesus cut-off shirt that I wear under my pads every game. I wouldn’t really call it a superstition but I wouldn’t feel right without it.”

What’s one thing about yourself that not everyone knows?

“I’m addicted to Candy Crush. I’m on level 4,650.”

Favorite Football player?

John Johnson, he’s the starting safety for the Cleveland Browns and also my best friend”.

Favorite Movie?

“Oh, Forest Gump. Easy.”

Favorite pair of kicks?

“Jordan 1s, I can’t pick one specific pair.”

Just Keep Going: Stallions RB CJ Marable makes a policy of perseverance

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RB CJ Marable was instrumental in helping the Birmingham Stallions become the inaugural USFL champions in 2022. Marable who was named the USFL Week 5 Offensive Player of the Week, was Birmingham’s leading rusher finishing the season with 401 rushing yards and 5 rushing touchdowns.

While his highlight reel was, quite literally, on display this past season, his journey to playing professional football has been far from easy.

A Dream is Born

Torrance Marable Jr., who goes by the nickname CJ, laced up his first set of football pads at the age of 5. Some of his earliest memories include tossing the ball outside with his father, Torrance Marable Sr., who doubled as his all-time quarterback in outdoor pickup games. It was in his hometown backyard in Decatur, Georgia that the elder Marable told his son he was capable of taking it to the next level, instilling in him a new passion for the game.

“He just looked at me one day and said, man, you’ve got it,” CJ recalls. “Just stay focused, stay consistent, and the sky is the limit. And that confirmed everything for me. I fell in love with the game and believed I could be whatever I wanted to be because my Dad said it.”

Marable, a two-star recruit coming out of Towers High School, initially signed with Arkansas State as a grayshirt, but in the weeks leading up to his expected start date, he says the communication with the school just stopped, unexpectedly. Arkansas State wasn’t returning his calls and when they finally called him back, they no longer had a place for him on the team.

Pivoting along the Path

Wanting to keep his football dreams alive, Marable pivoted his focus to playing at the junior college level. But a last-minute offer to play at Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina — with a full scholarship — was one he couldn’t refuse. Marable’s 2017 freshman season was explosive: the Georgia native started all 11 games and led the Big South with 1,038 rushing yards only to find out that the school was pulling back on its football team and would become a non-scholarship program by 2020.

With his dreams once again the line, it was a familiar time for Marable – time to pivot. He transferred to Coastal Carolina, a place he says shaped him into a better person on and off the field.

“We had this acronym B.A.M., which stood for Be a Man,” Marable told NBC Sports. “Coach Jamey Chadwell taught us to be accountable for whatever we do and to stand on our own two feet. He told us that if you quit on football and can’t go through the hard times here, then there’s no way that you’ll be able to deal with the hard times in life.”

Deferred but not Denied

Marable finished his collegiate career with a streak of 32 straight games with at least one reception. In his three years at Coastal Carolina (2018-2020), he rushed for 2,691 yards with 41 total touchdowns, assembling impressive enough stats and film to sign as an undrafted free agent contract with the Chicago Bears in 2021. But once again, things didn’t go as planned and Marable was released before the start of the regular season.

“I wasn’t comfortable where I was because I felt like I should have been drafted,” he said. “I felt like I had a point to prove. I did what I was supposed to do but it just wasn’t in my favor at the time. I never wanted to question God so I just had to stay consistent, stay focused, and continue to grind to get to where I wanted to be.”

It was in this period, dialed in on training and staying pro-ready with tunnel vision focus, that he heard about the USFL, not just once but on three separate occasions. First, the idea came from his manager, who he calls “Hood”, who thought it would be a good opportunity for the running back. His trainer for the NFL combine agreed. But Marable brushed the idea off both times, wanting to stay focused on that potential NFL opportunity. It wasn’t until his girlfriend’s father brought it up again that Marable took it as a sign to do his own research and take the USFL seriously as a path forward in professional football.

Just Keep Going

Looking back, Marable credits his strong support system, specifically his Mother, Sabrina Sims, for helping him stay positive in periods of disappointment and uncertainty.  “She reminded me that every storm I’ve been in, I’ve got out of.”

“Life is going to hit you,” the 25-year-old said. “Nothing is going to go as planned but never give up. If I could go back in time and give my younger self advice it would be these two simple words: keep going. God’s got you, never give up.”

Leading by Example

Marable, who welcomed a baby boy in March with girlfriend Bayley Randall, says he wants to instill that lesson in his son Trae (Torrance Christopher Marable III).

“When he grows up I want to be that example and show him that Dad never gave up. Even though I failed at times the difference between me and anybody else is that I just never gave up.”

The Stallions running back is currently working towards a Master’s degree in Sports Psychology. He wants to help other athletes develop when his football career is over — which, at the rate he’s playing, doesn’t look like it’ll be anytime soon.

First and 10 with CJ Marable

Pregame ritual?

“I love to listen to music, my favorite artist is Future so that’s all I play. But my go-to hype-up album is “Thug Motivation” by Young Jeezy.

What is your role on the team?

To get the offense rolling. My strengths include blocking the ball out the backfield, my vision, and my speed.

To what do you attribute the Birmingham Stallions’ early success?

“I’m really impressed with how well we get along with each other. We laugh with each other. We joke with each other. We are a family. We spend our off days and downtime together. The offensive linemen and the running backs go out to eat every Thursday or Friday depending on the week.”

“Honestly, it feels great when everything you work for is paying off. But in the back of our minds, we know that we have to stay consistent. We have a bullseye on our chest. Everybody wants to beat the Birmingham Stallions.”

What is it like being the only USFL team to play in front of a home crowd?

“I feel like the fans are really coming out there and doing their job and it’s helped us a lot, especially on third downs you can just hear them yelling ‘defense, defense’. We’re the first professional football team for Alabama so it feels great to be able to just go out there and put on for the city of Birmingham.”

Favorite Running Back?

Reggie Bush. When I was at Carolina, we played against BYU on “College GameDay”, and I had a great game. Later during the week, I got interviewed by Reggie Bush so that was a cool experience.”

Favorite Food?

“Wings. All flats.”

Favorite Movie?

“Friday”

Favorite Vacation Spot?

Hawaii

How would your family and friends describe you as a person?

“I’m a driven person and I won’t let anything stop me from getting to where I want to be in life. I’m also funny and outgoing.

Name one thing about yourself that not everybody knows about you.

“I enjoy fishing.”

RELATED: Control what you can control – How journey through the fire led Generals RB Darius Victor to the USFL