That's funny. Doug Flutie looked like a rookie.
The Baltimore Stars stole the Flutie Show and turned it into the Chuck Fusina-Kelvin Bryant Hour yesterday, beating the New Jersey Generals, 29-9, in every way imaginable. It was their first U.S. Football League victory of the season.
The Stars got a 21-yard touchdown run from an inspired Bryant and scoring passes from Fusina of three and 13 yards to win their home opener before 31,027 at the University of Maryland's Byrd Stadium in College Park. It was the defending league champions' first good performance after going 0-2-1 on the road.
As for Flutie, the Generals' rookie quarterback who has been so dazzling with his scrambling ability, well, he scrambled all right. But backward, and he added two interceptions that the Stars converted into 10 points.
"It's nice to smile," Stars Coach Jim Mora said. "This really helps. In a way it almost feels better to win this one than it did the championship."
The Stars did the best job of containing Flutie yet, sacking him three times for 46 yards. The crowning moment came with 1:49 left, when defensive end William Fuller chased him 35 yards backward, mouthing things all the way, before pinning him.
"He was telling me to go home," Flutie said, "And I was ready to."
Earlier in the week, Stars owner Myles Tannenbaum had caused a stir when he commented that Donald Trump, his counterpart with the Generals, had called to ask that the Stars "take it easy" on Flutie.
Flutie's response to the controversy afterward was grim.
"If he said it, I'm sure he didn't mean it," he said. "You can take anything literally if you want to. If he was serious, he'd be crazy."
Fusina completed 17 of 29 passes, including 11 of 13 in the second half, for 204 yards. His two touchdowns were to wide receiver Victor Harrison and Bryant, who also rushed for 136 yards. It was Bryant's first 100-plus game this season, and he did it wearing a brace on his right ankle to protect a nagging sprain.
The Stars took a 16-3 halftime lead, and those in the crowd who came to see the Heisman Trophy winner were in for a letdown. Flutie was on the field for roughly six minutes in the second half, and just 22 seconds in the third quarter.
"I knew one of these games was coming sooner or later," Flutie said. "They controlled the ball the whole game. It's hard to come back when you're sitting on the bench."
The Stars had been outscored, 13-3, in third quarters of their first three games and let early leads slip away. But a rock-ribbed offense that finally resembled a championship team's controlled the ball for 14:38 of the quarter. The Stars mounted two long drives that culminated in 10 points, on Fusina's 13-yard scoring pass to Harrison and David Trout's 20-yard field goal seconds into the fourth quarter.
The touchdown pass came on the first drive of the second half, in which Fusina took them 73 yards on 12 plays in 6:20. On first and 10 at the Generals 13, he lofted the ball to Harrison deep in the right corner of the end zone for a 22-3 lead.
After the ensuing kickoff, the Generals' Herschel Walker scored their only touchdown of the day, with an 80-yard run from scrimmage on first down, in which he broke four tackles and dragged linebacker George Cooper the last five yards into the end zone. Walker finished with 152 yards on 16 carries, the most gained by a back against the Stars.
Flutie's second interception came at 12:02 and killed any speculation that he might stage one of his showy comebacks. Starting from his 36, he drove the Generals to the Stars' 20 with a couple of scrambles and a 23-yard completion to tight end Jeff Spek. But on first down he looked for Spek again in the end zone, and instead found all-league free safety Mike Lush.
Lush returned it to the Baltimore 21, and the Stars drove 65 yards for Trout's final field goal, a 31-yarder with 5:38 remaining.
Garcia Lane had the other interception for the Stars, which set up Fusina's three-yard scoring pass to Bryant in the first quarter.