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Birmingham scores late to beat New Jersey in USFL debut

Stallions quarterback J'Mar Smith scrambles to score the game-winning touchdown for Birmingham, who record the first victory in the USFL.

Thirty-nine years after the original USFL debuted, the new USFL returned on Saturday night. The Birmingham Stallions won the first of 40 regular-season games with a late touchdown, beating the New Jersey Generals, 28-24 in a game televised by both NBC and Fox.

After the Generals took a 24-21 lead with 1:49 to play, the possibility of overtime -- and the USFL’s two-point shootout for resolving it -- loomed. But the Stallions quickly found themselves not only in field-goal range but in position to win the game in regulation, thanks to a facemask foul that gave Birmingham the ball on the New Jersey 20, with 48 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

Five plays later, quarterback J’Mar Smith, who split time with Alex McGough, ran two yards for the decisive score. New Jersey started the next drive on its own 35, but it got no farther before time expired.

Smith completed 11 of 21 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown. He added 13 rushing yards on three attempts.

Birmingham receiver Osirus Mitchell caught five passes for 96 yards and a touchdown.

For the Generals, quarterback D’Andre Johnson (who split time with starter Luis Perez), ran for 98 yards and a touchdown. He threw for 59 yards. Perez had 143 passing yards and two touchdown passes.

Generals receiver Randy Satterfield scored the first points of the new USFL, with an opening-drive touchdown reception. For the game, he caught five passes for 100 yards.

The USFL continues on Sunday with three more games to cap Week One. It gets started on NBC and Peacock at 12:00 p.m. ET, as the Michigan Panthers host the Houston Gamblers. All regular-season games will be played in Birmingham.