Former UCF wide receiver Marlon Williams helped the Birmingham Stallions capture the inaugural USFL championship 33-30 over the Philadelphia Stars on Sunday night at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio.
Williams, who played for UCF from 2017-20, caught 7 passes for a game-high 105 receiving yards, including a 41-yard touchdown reception in the first half.
“It was really awesome to have a game like that,” Williams told the Orlando Sentinel. “I expect that from myself every game. Anytime you’re playing for a championship, it’s a great opportunity.”
The long touchdown catch by Williams gave the Stallions a 17-9 lead with less than a minute to play in the second quarter. Birmingham led 20-9 at halftime following a field goal.
The Stars made it a one-possession game in the third quarter before eventually taking their first lead of the night when quarterback Case Cookus hit Devin Gray for a 12-yard catch in the endzone.
Birmingham marched down the field with less than 7-minutes remaining as quarterback Alex McGough connected with Williams twice on the late-game drive.
The Stallions regained the lead, 26-23, with 3:16 left when McGough threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Victor Bolden Jr.
Birmingham linebacker Scooby Wright sealed the comeback win for the Stallions by returning an interception for a touchdown with 2:53 left. The Stars were able to score again but fell short in their efforts.
“It means a lot to win the first championship in a new league,” Williams said. “We will always be remembered as the first championship team. I am very proud of the team. We faced adversity and overcame it every time.”
The title for Birmingham marks the end of the first season for the USFL, which began in April. Unlike the AAF in 2019 and XFL in ‘20, the USFL survived a full spring slate of professional football.
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The league is set to be back in 2023, Fox Sports CEO Eric Shanks told Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand. The XFL will also make its return next year too.
Williams, who was joined by former UCF offensive lineman Jordan McCray in Birmingham, reflected on competing in the first year of the USFL.
The former Knights receiver finished the regular season with the third-most receiving yards (474) and was tied for the second-most touchdown catches.
“The USFL was great this year,” Williams said. “I enjoyed every minute. The USFL is filled with great players and coaches. It wasn’t a big difference to me… football is football at any time of the year.”
While he enjoyed his time in the USFL, Williams said his goal is to play in the NFL. His performance in the spring league should help his chances but he’s not getting ahead of himself.
“I showed teams that I can do a little bit of everything at wide receiver,” Williams said. “I scored on the deep ball, screen passes, etc. Whatever comes [my way], comes… I’m going to be where my feet are.”