The Virtual U.S. Football League

The Virtual U.S. Football League
USFL Champion & League MVP: Jim Kelly-Houston Gamblers

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

1989 Fan Poll

'88 Chronology-Domination Game!

Event Date: July 11th, 1988

Event Description: USFL Championship

Source: New York Post

Week #21 United States Football League Championship Game

Houston 37
Jacksonville 17

at Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ

Attendance: 49,326
Television: ABC Regional/ESPN/RCA Satellite
Announcers: Keith Jackson and Lynn Swann
Local Announcers: John Greer/Ed Biles/Bob Fiscella and Larry Munson/Mel Arthur

Jim Kelly threw a first quarter touchdown pass to Don Narcisse, helping the Houston Gamblers beat the Jacksonville Bulls, 37-17, in the United States Football League Championship at Giants Stadium.

Kelly completed 18-of-30 passes for 225 yards for the Gamblers, who captured their first USFL championship. Kelly was also named League MVP over the weekend.

Sam Harrell carried the ball 19 times for 75 yards and Joey Walters caught four passes for 102 yards for Houston, which defeated Denver and New Orleans to reach the championship game. Vince Courville was named the game's Most Valuable Player.

Ed Luther connected on 23-of-46 passes for 291 yards with one touchdown and an interception for the Bulls, who fell to 1-1 in championship games.

Luther was intercepted by Dennis Thurman midway through the second quarter. Houston then took advantage as Harrell rumbled into the endzone from fifteen yards out giving the Gamblers’ a 20-0 lead.

Harrell would score again at the 2:30 mark of the second quarter as Houston built a 27-0 halftime advantage.

"We didn't start well. We didn't take advantage of their turnover and they got a touchdown on theirs. Things snowballed from that point and we were never really in the game," Bulls coach Jim Johnson said after the game.

The score was 27-9 after Brian Franco made field goals of 35, 31 and 34 yards, respectively, in the third quarter.

Houston put the game away when Tony Jeffery scored via a one-yard touchdown plunge making it a 25-point contest.

Ed Luther threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to Gerald Harris in the final minutes. A successful two-point conversion made it 34-17 in favor of the Gamblers.

Efren Herrera's final field goal rounded out the scoring for Houston.

Game Notes-The Bulls were held to just 10 yards rushing as compared to 119 for Houston...Jacksonville was without star receiver Alton Alexis who missed the game due to injury.

more to come…...

**On vacation for a few weeks..check back in late July/early August as we move ahead to 1989...

'88 Chronology-League MVP Awards

Event Date: July 9th, 1988

Event Description: USFL Most Valuable Player

Source: The Sporting News

The United States Football league presented the MVP award today to Houston Gamblers’ quarterback Jim Kelly.

Quarterback Ben Bennett (Tampa Bay) and wideout Lonnie Harris (Denver) finished second and third respectively.

Other awards winners include; Defensive MVP: Bruce Miller (New Orleans) and Coach of the Year Dick Coury (New Orleans).

more to come......

'88 Chronology-Championship Preview

Event Date: July 8th, 1988

Event Description: Week #21 Preview

Source: PFW

Week #21 USFL Championship Preview


          (14-5) Houston Gamblers vs (14-5) Jacksonville Bulls (Bulls -2)

more to come......

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Championship Game Poll

'88 Chronology-Semifinal Playoffs

Event Date: July 4th, 1988

Event Description: Semifinal Playoffs

Source: Gainesville Sun

Week #20 Playoff Games

Tampa Bay 20
Jacksonville 27

Attendance: 47,311
Television: ABC Regional/RCA Satellite
Announcers: Tim Brandt/Lee Grosscup

Tony Smith's five-yard touchdown run with 1:35 remaining cemented the win, as the Jacksonville Bulls pulled out a gritty 27-20 win over the Tampa Bay Bandits in the Eastern Conference Semifinal at the Gator Bowl. 

Tommy Vigorito returned a first quarter punt for a touchdown, and amassed 104 yards on five returns -- highlighted by a 71-yard runback for a score -- as Jacksonville advanced to its second championship game in three years. 

The Bulls will meet Western Conference winner Houston in the championship game, set for next Sunday at Giants Stadium in New Jersey. The Gamblers topped New Orleans, 33-28, in the Western Conference final.

Ed Luther completed 23-of-36 passes for 252 yards and a touchdown for the Bulls (15-5). Elmer Bailey had four catches for 91 yards and a score for the Bulls, who led 14-7 at the intermission.

Ben Bennett completed 20-of-38 passes for 309 yards and a pair of touchdowns for Tampa Bay (14-6), which was looking for its first championship game berth.

Greg Anderson had eight grabs for 204 yards with one score, and Marvin Harvey had four catches for 35 yards and a touchdown for Tampa Bay, which saw a late rally, including a 71-yard Anderson pass reception for a touchdown, fall short.

Game Notes-Amos Lawrence accounted for 150 total yards including 59 yards via kickoff returns...Charles Bowser led the Jacksonville defense with nine tackles, one sack and one pass deflection...the teams combined for 14 penalties and six quarterback wideout Alton Alexis left the game in the fourth quarter with an undisclosed injury.

Houston 33
New Orleans 28

Attendance: 35,889
Television: ABC National/RCA Satellite
Announcers: Keith Jackson/Lynn Swann

Jim Kelly threw for 442 yards and two touchdowns on 33-of-61 passing as the Houston Gamblers advanced to the USFL championship game with a 33-28 victory over the New Orleans Breakers in the Western Conference Semifinal at the Superdome.

Sam Harrell ran for 56 yards on 20 carries, while adding a rushing touchdown for the Gamblers, who will be looking for their first title when they face the Eastern Conference champion Jacksonville Bulls at Giants Stadium next Sunday.

Richard Johnson caught 12 passes for 165 yards for Houston, while Joey Walters hauled in six balls for 130 yards. Vince Courville and Mark Barousse also contributed touchdown receptions in the victory.

Stan Humphries completed 16-of-35 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns, while Frank Lockett added four catches for 124 yards and a score for the Breakers, who were looking to go to their third straight championship game. Greg Taylor scored two touchdowns in the setback.

Houston dominated play early on and wasted no time taking the lead. 

Two Efren Herrera field goals opened the scoring in the first quarter, and Kelly hooked up with a wide-open Mark Barousse for an 18-yard touchdown, putting the visitors up 13-0 early in the second frame.

The Breakers got on the board midway through the second when Humphries led a five-play, 62-yard drive before capping the march with a 44-yard touchdown strike to Lockett, cutting the deficit to 13-7.

The Gamblers answered with an eight-play, 63-yard drive which was capped by a four-yarder to Vince Courville, pushing the Gamblers lead out to 20-7.

The Breakers quickly responded by launching a five-play, 67 yard drive which ended with a Humphries to Greg Taylor nine-yard touchdown pass at the 1:42 mark. 

Another Efren Herrera field goal from 29-yard out rounded out the first half scoring as Houston led 23-14 at the break.

The Gamblers extended their lead to 30-14 on their first possession of the third quarter as Sam Harrell capped a 72-yard drive with a seven yard touchdown scamper.

Later in the third stanza, Marcus Dupree leaped into the endzone from one-yard out as the Breakers cut the deficit to 30-21.

Humphries connected with a streaking Greg Taylor down the right sideline for an 18-yard touchdown as New Orleans pulled to within two at the 13:19 mark of the final frame.

From that point forward the two defenses took control of the game as neither team was able to mount another touchdown drive.

The Gamblers scored the final points of the game as Herrera connected on a 43-yard field goal at the two minute mark to secure the win for the visitors.

Game Notes-Marcus Dupree was limited to 30 rushing yards on 17 carries...Houston finished with 467 total yards as compared to 315 for New Orleans.

more to come...

Monday, June 29, 2015

'88 Chronology-Semifinal Playoff Preview

Event Date: June 30th, 1988

Event Description: Week #20 Preview

Source: PFW

Week #20 USFL Playoff Preview


(14-5) Tampa Bay at (14-5) Jacksonville (Bulls -2)
    (14-5) Houston at (15-4) New Orleans (Breakers -3)          

more to come......

Sunday, June 28, 2015

'88 Chronology-Quarterfinal Playoffs

Event Date: June 27th, 1988

Event Description: Quarterfinal Playoffs

Source: PFW

Week #19 Playoff Games

Memphis 21
Jacksonville 27

Attendance: 48,909
Television: ABC Regional/RCA Satellite
Announcers: Fred Manfra/Mike Adamle

Ed Luther tossed three touchdowns passes as the Jacksonville Bulls defeated the Memphis Showboats, 27-21, to advance to the Semifinal round next week. The Bulls will face Tampa Bay in Jacksonville next Sunday.

Luther went 32-for-47 with 320 yards while Alton Alexis and Elmer Bailey each caught touchdown passes for the Bulls, who won the USFL championship in 1986 and are looking for their second title in franchise history.

Walter Lewis threw for a touchdown on 19-of-31 passing with 158 yards and one interception for Memphis. Lewis had 10 carries for 76 yards on the ground. Gill Fenerty added 75 yards and a score along with two catches for 11 yards for the Showboats, who saw their bid for a second consecutive championship fall short.

The only points of the first quarter saw Fenerty score via a five-yard touchdown run to give Memphis a 7-0 lead early in the game.

Just over five minutes into the second stanza, the Bulls tied things up after Luther found Alexis down the visitor sideline for a 52 -yard touchdown.

The Bulls increased their lead as Luther hit Bailey for a 17-yard score at the 6:54 mark, and again from 14-yards out with just 24 seconds remaining for a 21-7 halftime lead.

Memphis responded  with their first possession of the third and cut into its deficit as Leonard Williams ran one in from five-yards out, completing a ten-play, 70 yard drive.

Near the end of the frame, the Bulls increased their lead as Brian Franco connected on a 42-yard field goal as Jacksonville moved ahead 24-14 heading into the final quarter.

Franco hit a 35-yard field goal with 6:18 to play in the game to extend Jacksonville's lead to 27-14.

A four-yard touchdown pass from Lewis to Leonard Williams at the 0:35 mark rounded out the scoring.

Game Notes-Don Bessillieu led the Jacksonville defensive effort with ten tackles and one pass deflection.

Tampa Bay 16
Pittsburgh 15

Attendance: 25,274
Television: ABC Regional/RCA Satellite
Announcers: Tim Brandt/Lee Grosscup

Robert Ducksworth scored the lone touchdown for the Tampa Bay Bandits, who held on to beat the Pittsburgh Maulers, 16-15, at Three Rivers Stadium.

Ducksworth returned an interception 15 yards for a score at the 3:24 mark of the final frame, pushing Tampa out to a 13-9 lead. 

Ben Bennett threw for 188 yards on 19-of-38 passing with one interception and Greg Allen rushed for 43 yards on 16 carries for the Bandits, who will visit rival Jacksonville in next weeks semifinal round.

John Congemi completed 29-of-43 passes for 259 yards and D.K. Smith caught five passes for 55 yards for the Maulers, who were making their first playoff appearance.

David Trout got Pittsburgh on the scoreboard first courtesy of a 21-yard field goal that capped a 12-play, 57-yard drive with 13:34 left in the second quarter. Congemi hit Daric Zeno for 24 yards and connected with Smith for a 15-yard gain during the possession.

The Maulers took a 6-0 lead on Trout’s second field, again from 21-yards out, at the 9:23 mark of the second stanza.

Less than two minutes before halftime, Tampa Bay added three points via a Zenon Andrusyshyn 28-yard field goal to cut the lead to 6-3. Trout then hit on his third field as time expired, giving Pittsburgh a 9-3 halftime lead.

Andrusyshyn pulled the visitors to within three with a 36-yard boot with 6:36 to go in the third. 

The Congemi to Smith touchdown reception and a final 50-yard field goal by Andrusyshyn rounded out the scoring and gave the Bandits the win with just 16 seconds on the clock.

Game Notes-Joe Dudek was limited to just 19 yards rushing on 11 carries, but did haul in eight receptions for 44 yards in the loss.

Birmingham 19
New Orleans 27

Attendance: 35,941
Television: ABC National/RCA Satellite
Announcers: Bill Flemming/Ron Mix

Stan Humphries threw for 246 yards and three scores as New Orleans beat Birmingham, 27-19, Western Conference quarterfinal action.

Frank Lockett had four catches for 133 yards and two scores for the Breakers, who will take on Houston next Sunday at the Superdome. 

Humphries completed 14-of-24 passes with one pick and two sacks and Tyrone Anthony had 49 yards on the ground in the victory.

Cliff Stoudt connected on 22-of-33 passes for 251 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions for the Stallions. 

The Stallions struck first as they opened the game with three consecutive Dan Miller field goals. giving Birmingham a 9-0 lead at the start of the second stanza.

Humphries hit Lockett with a 40-yard scoring strike at the eleven minute mark cutting the lead to 9-7.

Tim Mazzetti added a 51-yard field goal before Miller converted a 32-yard field as the teams headed into the intermission with Birmingham ahead 12-10.

Humphries connected with Lockett again for a 51-yard score to open the third and Greg Taylor hauled in a 22-yard touchdown as the Breakers moved out to a 24-12 lead at the end of three.

Mazzetti's 50-yard field goal at the 7:29 mark of the final frame pushed New Orleans ahead for good at 27-12.

Stoudt hit Ken Toler with an 67-yard touchdown pass with just over seven minutes left in the game but Birmingham was unable to mount a serious scoring threat after that.

Game Notes-Each team committed six penalties and two turnovers...Robert Brannon led the Breakers defense with a dozen tackles including five run stuffs.

Houston 31
Denver 10

Attendance: 40,941
Television: ABC National/RCA Satellite
Announcers: Keith Jackson/Lynn Swann

Jim Kelly threw for 270 yards with three touchdowns, leading the Houston Gamblers to a 31-10 victory over the Denver Gold in the Wast Division quarterfinal at Mile High Stadium.

Richard Johnson caught six passes for 131 yards and a touchdown, as Houston built a 24-3 halftime lead and cruised into next week's Wastern Conference semifinal against New Orleans.

The Gamblers, who finished one game behind New Orleans in the division with a 13-5 record, split their two meetings with the Breakers this season. The Houston win came at home back in Week #6.

New Orleans concluded the regular season 14-4 and won at Week #13 contest at the Superdome.

Early in the opening frame Vince Evans was intercepted by Luther Bradley which set up a six yard touchdown run by Sam Harrell as the Gamblers opened an early 7-0 lead.

Houston followed with another turnover and then Kelly hit Johnson with a 29-yard touchdown pass for a 14-0 lead.

Early in the second stanza Denver got on the board with a 35-yard Jeff Brockhaus field goal triiming the deficit to 14-3.

It was all Gamblers for the rest of the second quarter, as they scored 10 more points to take control.

Kelly hit Vince Courville with a five-yard scoring strike early in the second and Houston also added a 40-yard Efren Herrera field goal to make it 24-3.

Kelly threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Joey Walters in the fourth quarter to pull extend the Houston lead to 31-3.

Robbie Bosco rounded out the scoring with a 8-yard touchdown toss to Willie Gillespie.

Game Notes-Richard Johnson finished with 131 yards receiving...the Gold were guilty of four turnovers and two sacks...Bosco replaced Vince Evans late and finished 10 of 14 for 75 yards and one pick.

For complete team statistics go here……

more to come...

Saturday, June 27, 2015

New Orlando Head Coach Poll

'88 Chronology-Renegades Fire Corso

Event Date: June 23rd, 1988

Event Description: Corso Fired

Source: Lakeland Ledger

The Orlando Renegades have fired head coach Lee Corso. The move comes after a fourth consecutive losing season in Orlando. Corso compiled a career record of 23-46.

The Renegades entered the season hoping to advance to the playoffs for the first time in their history. But they struggled to an 8-10 record despite the return of star quarterback Reggie Collier.

In other USFL news the league has announced that an exhibiton game will be played on July 24th at Wembley Stadium. The contest will involve the New Jersey Generals and the Baltimore Americans.

more to come......

Friday, June 26, 2015

1988 Championship Poll

'88 Chronology-Quarterfinal Playoff Preview

Event Date: June 23rd, 1988

Event Description: Week #19 Playoff Preview

Source: PFW

Week #19 USFL Quarterfinals Preview


(13-5) Tampa Bay at (10-8) Pittsburgh (Bandits -1)

(11-7) Birmingham at (14-4) New Orleans (Breakers -6)


(10-8) Memphis at (13-5) Jacksonville (Bulls -4)
(13-5) Houston at (13-5) Denver (Gold -1)

more to come......

'88 Chronology-Sunday Scoreboard

Event Date: June 20th, 1988

Event Description: Week #18 Summary

Source: PFW

Week #18 Scoreboard


             (6-11) Philadelphia at (7-10) Orlando (Renegades 38-3)

          (9-8) Pittsburgh at (8-9) New Jersey (Maulers 20-14)

                 (13-4) Jacksonville at (9-8) Memphis (Showboats 27-16)

(12-5) Tampa Bay at (8-9) Baltimore (Bandits 20-16)

              (6-11) Chicago at (13-4) New Orleans (Breakers 17-13)

              (11-6) Birmingham at (12-5) Houston (Gamblers 27-10) 

(5-12) Michigan at (12-5) Denver (Gold 27-24) 

(7-11) Oakland at (8-9) Arizona (Wranglers 25-17)

(4-13) Los Angeles at (3-14) Portland (Storm 23-12)

more to come......

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

'88 Chronology-Week #18 Preview

Event Date: June 17th, 1988

Event Description: Week #18 Preview

Source: PFW

Week #18 USFL Preview


             (6-11) Philadelphia at (7-10) Orlando (Renegades -5)

          (9-8) Pittsburgh at (8-9) New Jersey (Generals -2)

                 (13-4) Jacksonville at (9-8) Memphis (Showboats -1)

(12-5) Tampa Bay at (8-9) Baltimore (Americans -1)

              (6-11) Chicago at (13-4) New Orleans (Breakers -8)

              (11-6) Birmingham at (12-5) Houston (Gamblers -4) 

(5-12) Michigan at (12-5) Denver (Gold -6) 

(7-10) Oakland at (8-9) Arizona (Wranglers -4)

(4-13) Los Angeles at (3-14) Portland (Storm -2)

more to come......

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

'88 Chronology-Close Finish

Event Date: June 14th, 1988

Event Description: Bennett Leads Bandits

Source: Lakeland Ledger

Week #17 Monday Game

Pittsburgh 24
Tampa Bay 29

Attendance: 44.104
Television: ESPN/RCA Satellite
Announcers: Jim Simpson/Paul McGuire

Ben Bennett threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns and John Settle added a score on the ground as the Tampa Bay Bandits survived a late-game rally by Pittsburgh to take a 29-24 victory on Monday night.

Bennett completed 23-of-30 passes with one interception and no sacks.

Greg Allen carried the ball 23 times for 57 yards and Greg Anderson hauled in six passes for 95 yards and two scores as the Bandits (12-5) remain one-game behind division leading Jacksonville.

John Congemi was 13-of-24 for 145 yards, two touchdowns and three sacks, and Joe Dudek was limited to just 22 yards on 12 carries for the Maulers (9-8).

Trailing by 27-10 early in the fourth quarter, Pittsburgh got back into the game after a 93-yard kickoff return by Thad McFadden and an eight yard touchdown pass from Congemi to D.K. Smith.

A late safety from Mike Clark with just over three minutes remaining sealed the victory for the home team.

"We found a way to make it difficult in the end," Bandits head coach Steve Spurrier said. "We knew Pittsburgh was going to be tough and you have to give them credit. They kept executing at the end and they almost found a way to win the game."

Game Notes-Maulers’ tight end Theo young led the team in both rushing and receiving yards...John Settle finished with 59 yards rushing on 14 carries for the Bandits.

For a complete summary of Sundays’ scoreboard go here.

more to come......

Monday, June 22, 2015

'88 Chronology-Desert Reign

Event Date: June 12th, 1988

Event Description: Breakers Roll

Source: The Boca Raton News

Week #17 Saturday Game

New Orleans 37
Arizona 20

Attendance: 27,283
Television: ESPN
Announcers: Roger Twibell/Mike Adamle

Marcus Dupree scored a pair of rushing touchdowns and Tim Mazzetti connected on three field goals to lead New Orleans past the Arizona Wranglers, 37-20, on Saturday night.

Stan Humphries completed 13-of-20 passes for 265 yards and a touchdown for the Breakers (13-4), who now sit atop the Central Division.

Frank Lockett had four receptions for 139 yards and a touchdown, while Tyrone Anthony finished with 63 rushing yards on nine carries and Malcolm Barnwell added 85 yards on five catches in the win.

Rick Neuheisel threw for 298 yards with a pair of touchdowns and four interceptions on 25-of-44 passing for Arizona (8-9), which had its two-game win streak snapped.

Alphonso Williams paced the Arizona receivers with 123 yards and a touchdown on five receptions.

New Orleans held a 27-6 lead entering the third quarter when Bruce Miller returned an interception 10-yards for a score to extend the Breakers’ lead to 34-6.

Later in the third, Neuheisel atoned for his early mistake by hitting Alphonso Williams deep down the right sideline for a 53-yard scoring strike, making it a 34-13 ballgame.

The Breakers put together a field goal drive at the end of the third frame to extend their lead to 37-13.

Neuheisel connected with Clarence Collins for a 26-yard touchdown at the end of the final frame to round out the scoring.

Game Notes-The Breakers can clinch the Central title with a win against Chicago next week...the Wranglers have been eliminated from playoff contention.

more to come......

Sunday, June 21, 2015

'88 Chronology-Championship Preview?

Event Date: June 10th, 1988

Event Description: Bulls Outlast Gamblers

Source: Wilmington Morning Star

Week #17 Thursday Game

Houston 24
Jacksonville 34

Attendance: 51,871
Television: ESPN/RCA Satellite
Announcers: Tom Kelly/Don Heinrich

Ed Luther completed 25-of-40 passes for 285 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions as the Jacksonville Bulls outlasted the Houston Gamblers, 34-24.

The loss by Houston (12-5), its fifth straight, dropped them out of first place in the Central division.

Alton Alexis had five catches for 65 yards and a score, Elmer Bailey had four grabs for 65 yards, and Gerald Harris rushed for 43 yards on 15 carries for the Bulls (13-4).

Jim Kelly completed 21-of-32 passes for 376 yards two touchdowns and four picks for Houston. Joey Walters finished with five grabs for 153 yards and one touchdown.

Houston pulled to within 24-17 after Sam Harrell's four-yard touchdown run, but Jacksonville iced the win when Gerald Harris scored via a one-yar touchdown plunge, following a 42-yard Brian Franco field goal. 

Houston rounded out the scoring with a Kelly to Richard Johnson 43-yard touchdown pass with just 1:26 remaining in the contest.

Game Notes-The teams combined for 784 yards of net offense...Jesse Baker finished with two sacks and four tackles for Houston.

more to come...

Saturday, June 20, 2015

'88 Chronology-Week #17 Preview

Event Date: June 8th, 1988

Event Description: Week #17 Preview

Source: PFW

Week #17 USFL Preview

   (12-4) Houston at (12-4) Jacksonville (Bulls -1)

       (12-4) New Orleans at (8-8) Arizona (No Line)

            (7-9) Baltimore at (6-10) Philadelphia (Stars -3)
         (7-9) New Jersey at (5-11) Michigan (Panthers -6)
                (7-9) Orlando at (8-8) Memphis (Showboats -2)
             (10-6) Birmingham at (6-10) Chicago (Blitz -2)
             (3-13) Los Angeles at (7-9) Oakland (Invaders -5)

Sunday Night
            (3-13) Portland at (11-5) Denver (Gold -8)

           (9-7) Pittsburgh at (11-5) Tampa Bay (Bandits -5)

more to come......