A former NFL owner who also wore black and silver said it simplest and said it best: “Just win, baby.”
No one can say it was ever pretty, but the Birmingham Iron (2-0) found a way to win Saturday afternoon in front of another raucous crowd at Legion Field. In the end, a critical muffed punt recovery in the end zone, another short Trent Richardson touchdown, and two missed Taylor Bertolet field goals proved to be the difference in the 12-9 Iron victory.
Birmingham’s breakthrough came with 2:36 to go in the third quarter when De’Mornay Pierson-El muffed a punt at the Salt Lake 22. The ball was finally secured in the end zone by former Samford linebacker Shaheed Salmon for the touchdown to cut the deficit to three. In the fourth, Richardson gave Birmingham the lead with a two-yard touchdown run to finish a nearly five-minute drive. Salt Lake would get one more shot for overtime or the win, but Bertolet missed his 48-yard attempt wide to the left.
Richardson finished with 41 yards rushing on 19 carries and the score as well as 50 yards on six catches. Quarterback Luis Perez completed 24 of 38 passes but was left to dink and dunk as he only racked up 184 yards through the air with Richardson the leading receiver. Quinton Patton caught three of seven targets for 44 yards. Defensively, Beniquez Brown led tacklers with nine total and six solo as well as a sack. Jeremy Faulk also grabbed a sack for the Iron.
The Iron started off on the wrong foot as Nick Novak recorded his first missed field goal of the season on a 53-yard attempt in the game’s opening drive. Salt Lake then gave a viewing of the problems Birmingham’s defense would experience on the ground as Brandon Oliver picked up 32 yards on three carries before Matt Asiata fumbled the ball to the Iron inside the Birmingham 10-yard line.
Both teams would trade punts back and forth over the next 16-plus minutes before the Stallions broke through with a Joel Bouagnon touchdown run late in the first half. Things went even worse for Birmingham when the Iron ran an unsuccessful fake punt on fourth-and-one from their own 34. Salt Lake would add a 53-yard field goal from Bertolet before halftime for the 9-0 advantage.
Next week, the Iron head out on I-20 for their first road contest as they take on the Atlanta Legends. First snap is set for 3 pm CT on CBS Sports Network.