Late turnovers costly in Michigan Panthers' 27-20 loss to Tampa Bay
Heading into Friday night's USFL matchup, the Michigan Panthers were looking to bounce back after a tough start to the season, while the Tampa Bay Bandits came in battling to stay above .500.
After a fast start, the Panthers (1-4) came up short in the second half to fall to the Bandits, 27-20, in Birmingham, Alabama.
After Michigan converted a key fourth-and-1 to keep their final drive alive at the 2:00 warning, the Panthers lost any hope of victory after a fumble at the 50-yard line. Tampa Bay (3-2) ran out the clock to secure the win.
Michigan got things going early with a 19-yard run by Reggie Corbin to put the Panthers at the Tampa Bay 30-yard line.
Michigan pulled the tricks out of the bag with a double-pass touchdown, as former Wolverines signal-caller Shea Patterson threw to WR Joe Walker. Walker then hit TE Ryan O'Malley for the 30-yard score to put the Panthers up 7-0.
It didn't take Tampa Bay long to respond, as Ta’amu found Derrick Dillon for a 50-yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7 in Birmingham with 8:22 in the first half.
A 36-yard field goal by Cole Murphy gave the Panthers a 10-7 advantage with 10:07 left in the second quarter.
After a pass interference call on Michigan’s Terry Myrick put Tampa Bay at the Panthers' 1-yard line, Juwan Washington punched it in to put the Bandits back up, 13-10, with the missed extra-point attempt.
Patterson hit Lance Lenoir for a gain of 41 yards to put the Panthers down at the Tampa Bay 23-yard line with 0:35 left in the half. Murphy’s 41-yard field goal tied it 13-13 to end the first half.
Ta’amu and the Bandits opened the third period with a bomb to John Franklin for a 43-yard Tampa Bay touchdown, taking a 20-13 lead after Tyler Rausa’s extra-point attempt with 8:36 remaining in the third quarter.
On the ensuing drive, Patterson threw an interception by Christian Sam that resulted in the Bandits taking over at their own 18-yard line.
Tampa Bay was unable to convert the turnover into a score, as the Panthers scored on a pass from Patterson to La'Michael Pettway for a 25-yard touchdown and with Murphy’s extra point knotted things up at 20-20 with 6:00 left to play.
The Bandits wasted no time responding as Juwan Washington finished off the following drive with a 30-yard touchdown run to give Tampa Bay a 27-20 lead with 3:41 to play after the extra-point provided the final score.
Patterson completed 23-of-37 passes for 304 yards for a touchdown and an interception.
Ta'amu finished with 207 yards threw the air with a pair of touchdowns.
The Panthers will face the Birmingham Stallions next Saturday May 21st at 7:30 pm on NBC in Birmingham.
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