The Baltimore Stars started it with a fight and a fumble and the Memphis Showboats finished it with a field goal in overtime.
Alan Duncan's 35-yard field goal with 8:40 remaining in sudden death gave the Showboats a 13-10 U.S. Football League victory over the Stars at College Park's Byrd Stadium yesterday. But that was the least of it.
The Stars trailed the entire game, gave up three fumbles and had defensive end William Fuller ejected for flagrant kicking on the first series of the game. The defense once again carried the team, the offense was once again invisible.
The Showboats survived regulation with a field goal from Duncan and a 16-yard second-quarter touchdown pass from quarterback Walter Lewis to Derrick Crawford for a 10-3 lead by halftime. Backup quarterback Mike Kelley's 40-yard pass to wide receiver Greg Moser set up the winning field goal.
The Stars scored on David Trout's second-quarter field goal and Chuck Fusina's 11-yard pass to Willie Collier in the fourth period.
"They're just not scoring points," said Stars Coach Jim Mora. "We've been concerned about it all year, and now it's getting to the critical stage. We can't depend on our defense to hold things down every game. It's too much pressure. Something has to be done. I don't know what it is yet.
"It's pretty pathetic offensively, I'll tell you that," he said. "If I were the defense, I'd be damn frustrated."
Leading rusher Kelvin Bryant missed his third straight game with a strained Achilles tendon. Mora said he expected Bryant back next week. "We can't use the Bryant thing as an excuse," Mora said.
The Showboats are the only team in the USFL with a winning edge -- 2-1 -- over the defending champion Stars (3-4-1). The Showboats (4-4), who broke a three-game losing streak with the victory, won the first meeting this season in Memphis on March 9, 21-19.
Lewis completed nine of 16 passes for 109 yards and rushed for 47 on nine carries, but it was Kelley who rallied the Showboats in the late going for the second straight week.
Yesterday, he came in with a minute left when Lewis received a bloody nose and bruised hand.
Kelley completed four of seven passes for 58 yards. He had given up an interception to Mike Lush in an earlier spot appearance. He threw two incompletions in overtime before connecting on third and 10 with Moser, who beat defensive back Jon Sutton down the right sideline. The first down put them on the Stars 19.
The Showboats sent running back Anthony Parker around the left side for two yards and Tim Spencer around the right end for a loss of one. On third and nine at the 18, Duncan came on for the field goal.
Duncan had been released and then resigned in the last week.
The Stars had tied it up with 4:18 left on Fusina's 11-yard pass to Collier on fourth down. The Stars started at their 26 and drove to the Showboats' 15 with 5:22 left, Fusina completing a 33-yard pass to Collier on second and 10 at the Memphis 48. Collier took it to the 15.
Two incompletions and Bryan Thomas' four-yard gain put them at the 11 on fourth down. Fusina lofted the ball to Collier in the right corner of the end zone, over the head of cornerback Mike Thomas. David Trout's extra point tied it.
The Stars got the ball back at their 25 with 1:51 remaining. Fusina completed four passes to the 50 with 1:14 left and found Collier over the middle for a nine-yard completion. But Collier fumbled and the ball rolled to the Memphis 25, where Thomas fell on it.
Fusina completed 23 of 32 for 175 yards.
If the crowd of 15,728 didn't tell the Stars it was a bad day, the opening kickoff did. Victor Harrison fumbled and Mossy Cade recovered, giving the Showboats possession at the Baltimore 20. Memphis settled for Duncan's 32-yard field goal.
It was on the field goal attempt that Fuller was ejected for kicking Memphis tight end Gary Shirk while he was down.
"The tight end kept punching me in the side. This is a first," Fuller said. "I couldn't believe it. Why not him, when he started it.