Breakers clinch USFL playoff spot with win over Bandits
The oldest saying in football is that offense sells tickets and defense wins championships.
If the New Orleans Breakers win a championship in the 2022 USFL season, it will likely be because of its defense.
New Orleans had four takeaways, three sacks and 14 tackles for loss in a 17-6 victory over the Tampa Bay Bandits in Birmingham Sunday afternoon to clinch a playoff spot.
The win completed a season sweep for the Breakers over the Bandits. New Orleans swamped Tampa Bay 34-3 on April 24.
This time around, the Breakers (6-3) got interceptions from Adonis Alexander and Derrick Jones and recovered a pair of fumbles, including one each by Jarey Elder and Alexander. Jerod Fernandez had eight tackles, including a sack. Reginald Howard Jr. and Connor Christian each added a sack. Eisworth II had eight tackles, including one for loss.
New Orleans had just 222 yards of offense but it proved to be enough.
Reserve quarterback Zach Smith was 5 of 6 for 51 yards and a touchdown while starter Kyle Sloter was just 7 of 14 for 48 yards with an interception. Tight end Sal Canella had three catches for 34 yards and a touchdown.
After a scoreless first quarter, Smith connected with Canella on a 21-yard touchdown pass to give the Breakers a 6-0 lead with 7:33 to play in the first half. After a drive stalled, Taylor Bertolet nailed a 26-yard field goal to make it 9-0 with 5:06 to play in the half.
Jones then returned his interception 52 yards to set up a three-yard touchdown run by Jordan Ellis to give the Breakers a commanding 17-0 lead by halftime.
Tampa Bay finally got on the board with 11:40 to play in the game as Jordan Ta’amu hit Rashard Davis with a 31-yard touchdown pass to make it 17-6 following a failed two-point conversion attempt.
Anthony Jones rushed 11 times for 59 yards while Jordan Ellis had 14 rushes for 45 yards.
It was the second win for the Breakers over the Bandits this season.
With the win, the Breakers finished second in the South Division and will face the North Division champions Birmingham (8-1) in the semifinals on Saturday, June 25 at 7 p.m. Central time on NBC in Canton. North Division championship New Jersey (8-1) will take on second-place Philadelphia (5-3) at 2 p.m. on the same day in the other semifinal matchup on FOX.
Birmingham swept the Breakers 22-13 and 10-9 in regular season contests.
New Orleans still has one game regular season remaining, against Houston next Sunday night.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…