Paxton Lynch threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns to guide the Michigan Panthers past the Pittsburgh Maulers 33-21 on Sunday afternoon in Birmingham, Ala. The Panthers earned the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 USFL Draft.
With both teams entering Sunday at 1-8, the USFL made an abrupt rule change before the game as an anti-tanking measure, saying that the winner of the game would receive the first pick in each round of the draft.
Michigan (2-8) built a 21-0 lead behind two Lynch TD throws and a 63-yard fumble recovery touchdown by Cory Rahman. Lynch, a former first-round draft pick in the NFL, completed 22 of 30 passes and also threw one interception.
DelVon Hardaway made six catches for 100 yards and Isiah Hennie hauled in two touchdowns for Pittsburgh (1-9), which finished with the worst record of the revived USFL's first season.
Gamblers 20, Breakers 3
Houston, which a week ago spoiled Birmingham's perfect season, kept up the good vibes and scored a defensive touchdown not even five minutes into Sunday's game and cruised to a 20-3 win against New Orleans.
Donald Payne intercepted Zach Smith's pass on second down and returned it 12 yards for a touchdown to stake the Gamblers (3-7) to a 7-0 lead that they would never relinquish. Nick Vogel added a pair of field goals from 35 and 36 yards out, and Jeremiah Johnson returned a blocked field goal 77 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to essentially wrap up the victory.
The Breakers (6-4) had few things go right in a game the team didn't ultimately need after previously locking up a playoff bid. Taylor Bertolet nailed a 50-yard field goal four minutes after his blocked kick. New Orleans will take on the Stallions in the first round of the USFL playoffs on Saturday.
--Field Level Media