The brilliance of Oakland wide receiver Anthony Carter kept the defending USFL champion Baltimore Stars from their first victory this season.
They blew a 17-0 lead today at the Oakland Coliseum and had to settle for a 17-17 tie with the Invaders, the first tie in the history of the league.
Carter somehow squeezed between defensive backs Garcia Lane and Mike Lush on the goal line with one second left in regulation and caught an 18-yard pass that, once Novo Bojovic kicked the conversion, tied the score.
Carter's leaping catch for a 27-yard gain on the previous play set up his touchdown. The Stars seemed to have won, 17-10, by stopping the Invaders on the three-yard line with 1:46 to go in the fourth quarter.
But the Stars couldn't move the ball and had to punt to the Invaders, who took over on their 41 with 32 seconds left and no timeouts remaining.
Both teams missed field goal attempts in the 15-minute overtime. David Trout's 49-yard attempt fell short for the Stars with 4:26 to go and Bojovic's 48-yarder went only 23 when linebacker George Cooper deflected it.
Baltimore quarterback Chuck Fusina threw both his touchdown passes in the first half. He found wide receiver Victor Harrison for a 61-yard score 4:31 into the game and found Herbert Harris in the end zone from 11 yards out in the second quarter.
Trout made a 27-yard kick on Baltimore's first series of the third quarter. Up to then, it had been easy and the Stars were breezing, 17-0.
But the Invaders' other wide receiver, Gordon Banks, beat single coverage and took a pass from Bobby Hebert on the Baltimore 15. Banks breezed past left corner Jonathan Sutton to complete a 42-yard touchdown on the last play of the third quarter.
Harris fumbled the kickoff to Oakland's Carl Sullivan and Bojovic made the turnover pay off with a 40-yard field goal 1:48 into the fourth quarter. All told, the Stars lost three of five fumbles and Fusina threw one interception. Baltimore lost the ball four times the previous week in the opening loss to Jacksonville.
Fusina still wasn't 100 percent because of a jammed thumb suffered in the first game, although he completed 20 of 30 for 272 yards today. Running back Kelvin Bryant resprained his left ankle in the second quarter and gained only 28 of his 74 yards in the final three periods.
"Fusina's thumb is still bothering him," Baltimore Coach Jim Mora said. "I thought we played damned good on defense. I'm still concerned though about our offense. I'm not pleased at all at the way we played. We fought hard but we should have won the game."
"You're not going to hold a guy down like Anthony Carter the whole game."
Carter, one of 18 ex-Michigan Panthers who are on the merged team in Oakland, set a club-record with 152 yards on six catches.
"The play," Oakland Coach Charlie Sumner said about Carter's touchdown catch, "was to fire it to A.C. He's our money man and we knew he'd get it in."
Hebert, another transplant from Michigan's championship team of 1983, was only four of 13 for 39 yards in the first half, but finished 19 of 46 for 302 yards.