The Maulers win? The Maulers win! Pittsburgh takes the lead for the final game of the game


The Pittsburgh Maulers improved to 1-4 with a thrilling 21-20 last-second victory over the Houston Gambler on Sunday afternoon at Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Ala.

The Maulers opened the game with possession. On the Houston 45’s third-and-four, QB Kyle Lauletta found WR Bailey Gaither on the right sideline for a 31-yard gain at the Houston 14. However, Pittsburgh couldn’t find the end zone, and K Rahmiz Ahmed missed a 38-yard field goal and the score remained 0-0.

RB Mark Thompson broke up a 39-yard run on the second game of Gamblers practice, and Houston was in business. Two plays later, QB Clayton Thorson hit WR Isaiah Zuber for a 24-yard touchdown. K Nick Vogel’s extra point was good and Houston took a 7-0 lead with 7:41 left in the first quarter. Pittsburgh went three times in their next practice, and Houston took over by themselves 36. Houston was able to pick up big yardage, including a seven-yard reception to Thompson who had five yards nailed late in the game due to defensive play against Pittsburgh. Houston eventually settled for a 45-yard field goal from Vogel to take a 10-0 lead.

A 10-yard reception by Gaither on third-and-three gave the Maulers a first down, a rough passer penalty gave Pittsburgh another 15 yards, but on second-and-ten on the Houston 38, QB Vad Lee was sacked for a loss of five yards, and Lee’s pass on third-and-15 was incomplete. Ahmed scored a 51-yard field goal and the Gamblers’ lead was reduced to 10-3 with 10:04 left in the first half.

Thorson fumbled the snap on second-and-ten, which led to a third-and-22 run game. Thompson won eight but Houston went three times. Lee and Gaither connected for a seven-yard gain, RB Madre London ran for seven yards, and later in the drive, London picked up 9 yards on a reception to put Pittsburgh at Houston 28. The third-and-three, Pittsburgh got a first down on a six-yard reception by Tre Walker. At third and ten, Lee ran seven yards to reach the Houston 4. Ahmed came out and hit the basket to cut the lead to 10-6 with less than two minutes left in the half.

Houston wasn’t done though, as Thorson hit Zuber for 44 yards to get into Pittsburgh territory. However, they couldn’t get past the Pittsburgh 30 and Vogel missed a 47-yard field goal with 36 seconds left in the first half. The Maulers didn’t do much with final possession and went into the half trailing 10-6.

Houston opened the second half with the ball, they opened the half with an 11-yard completion to WR Tyler Palka. A run from Thompson won another first down, and on third-and-ten, Thompson gained enough to set up a fourth-and-one, where he gained five yards on Pittsburgh’s 18 for a first down. Thompson picked up another three yards on first-and-base and Houston was placed at the Pittsburgh 4. On third-and-base, a pass interference call against the Maulers in the end zone gave the Gamblers another round of downs, and they took advantage as Thorson ran for a touchdown. The extra point was good and Houston took a 17-6 lead with less than eight minutes left in the third quarter. Pittsburgh landed a first down on a 17-yard third down against Walker. An unnecessary roughness penalty gave Pittsburgh another 15 yards, and Pittsburgh was in business at the Houston 31. A 16-yard reception from Walker brought Pittsburgh into the red zone, and Houston 6’s third and fourth, London was arrested for a one-yard play. Ahmed had a 24-yard field goal and the Maulers went 17-9 with 2:51 left in the third quarter.

The Gamblers’ next drive opened with a brutal setter penalty against DL Ethan Westbrooks that gave the Gamblers 15 free yards. Thorson landed a first down on a third-and-nine run to get to the Pittsburgh 47 and move into Pittsburgh territory for the final play of the third quarter. On the second and tenth, CB Keith Gipson Jr. intercepted Thorson and Pittsburgh regained possession on their own 32-yard line.

The Maulers failed to capitalize on the turnover, going three-and-three after a missed screen play on third-and-seven. Houston had a three-and-out of their own possession on the next possession , and Pittsburgh took over at their own 34 with 11:02 to go. On the second play from the drive, Lee’s pass was intercepted by DB William Likely III and the Gamblers got the ball back at the Pittsburgh 36. Houston had to throw after losing four yards on the drive, and Pittsburgh took over on their own territory to their 24.

The Maulers went to three and had to kick the start. At third and nine, Thorson was sacked and fumbled and the Maulers recovered. Two plays later, Lee hit Gaither for a 30-yard touchdown reception. London’s two-point attempt was incomplete and the Maulers trailed 17-15 with less than seven minutes remaining. On third and third, Thorson completed a 37-yard pass and Houston was in Pittsburgh territory. Houston was unable to land another first down and threw a 44-yard field goal to give them a 20-15 lead with 3:34 left in the game.

A scramble from Vad Lee moved Pittsburgh to the Houston 35, and another scramble to the Houston 21 with 24 seconds left to play gave the Maulers the chance to win. With eight seconds left, the Maulers reached Houston’s nine-yard line and on the final play of the game, Lee found Gaither and the Maulers won 21-20. It was their first win of the season.

Pittsburgh will look to capitalize on the positive momentum next Sunday when they take on the New Orleans Breakers at 12 p.m.


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