Skip to content

Michigan Panthers lost, 29-10, to Memphis Showboats in the second game at Ford Field

The Michigan Panthers hosted the Memphis Showboats at Ford Field on Saturday night in a matchup of two former NFL head coaches, Mike Nolan (San Francisco 49ers, 2005-08) and Todd Haley (Kansas City Chiefs, 2009-11).

The Panthers came into Saturday looking to make good with their fans after losing their first-ever game at Ford Field last week. Ultimately, the Week 4 game in Detroit was more of the same from last week, as the Panthers were unable to overcome an early hole they dug for themselves, losing, 29-10, to the Memphis Showboats, the worst defense in the USFL.

Michigan Panthers quarterback Josh Love passes against the New Jersey Generals during the first half Sunday, April 30, 2023 at Ford Field.

WHERE ARE THE FANS: Michigan Panthers are back home, but don’t expect the area to notice much

The first quarter was dominated by one man: Alex Kessman, who starred at nearby Clarkston High School before kicking in college at Pittsburgh. The Showboats’ kicker stole the show by draining a 54-yard field goal on the first possession of the game when his team stalled out. A couple of drives later, he made another one from 53 yards after the Panthers sacked quarterback Cole Kelley.

Coming into the game, the Showboats had allowed a touchdown on all 11 of their opponent’s red-zone trips. That changed Saturday in the first quarter when Panthers quarterback Josh Love threw a pass into at least quadruple coverage that was intercepted by Anthony Butler, killing an otherwise efficient drive from the Panthers.

Memphis then punished the Panthers with a long drive and eventually used the 6-foot-7 Kelley on a quarterback sneak into the end zone. The score put the Panthers in a 13-0 hole with 11:24 still remaining in the second quarter.

After the costly turnover from Love, Nolan had seen enough and replaced him with Carson Strong, who played 32 games at Nevada. Nolan told the NBC broadcast team that Strong is the team’s “gunslinger.” In his first drive, Strong took the team all the way down to the 6, but the Panthers had to settle for a field goal to make it 13-3.

DOMINANT WEEK 1: 2 Michigan Panthers, MSU’s Matt Coghlin nab awards for Week 1 of 2023 USFL season

The Panthers quickly got the ball back and Strong once again led the team on a drive, but with the clock running down before halftime, he launched the ball into the end zone and it was intercepted by Memphis’ Jermain Kelly Jr.

After that, Love was back at quarterback to start the third quarter.

Both teams struggled to score in the third quarter, with the Showboats adding the only score of the third quarter, another field goal from Kessman. However, just seconds into the fourth quarter, the Panthers were finally able to capitalize on a red-zone trip. Love scrambled around the pocket as pressure came and delivered a nice pass on the run to Joe Walker, who easily caught the 3-yard pass for a TD to cut the deficit to six.

The Panthers were assisted by quite a few inaccurate passes by Kelley, who missed both easy and tough throws. But as the clock ticked in the fourth quarter, Haley made a key decision to leave his offense on the field instead of attempting a field goal that would have been about 50 yards. When it mattered most, Kelley came through and delivered, as the Showboats converted on fourth-and-3. It proved to be key, as Memphis ended up finishing the drive with a touchdown. Kelley scrambled around and scored his second rushing touchdown of the game from 6 yards out.

A couple of plays after the back-breaking touchdown, Love was stripped of the ball on a dropback, wit the Showboats returning it for a TD and sealing the deal for his first win of the season.

Despite outgaining the Showboats 252-239 in total yards, the Panthers didn’t make big plays when it mattered.

The Panthers will be right back at Ford Field next Saturday as they take on the Pittsburgh Maulers at 12:30 pm on the USA Network.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan Panthers lose, 29-10, to Memphis Showboats at Ford Field

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *