If only the Baltimore Stars could play Western Conference teams every week.
Baltimore's 28-10 victory over the San Antonio Gunslingers at Byrd Stadium yesterday drew 8,633, the smallest crowd to see the Stars home or away in two years. But it was their sixth game without a loss (one tie) against Western Conference opposition this season. Last year, en route to the U.S. Football League championship, the then Philadelphia Stars were 7-0 against the West.
Quarterback Chuck Fusina overcame a second-quarter injury and completed three touchdown passes, while the Stars defense sacked San Antonio's Rick Neuheisel eight times.
Finally edging over .500 (7-6-1), the Stars dropped the Gunslingers to 3-11 with a seven-game losing streak. Baltimore's four remaining games will be against Eastern Conference rivals, including Jacksonville here next week.
The Stars took a 7-0 lead on the game's opening drive. Fusina completed six straight passes, ending with a 21-yard floater into the left corner of the end zone to Victor Harrison, who made an over-the-shoulder catch.
After Baltimore's David Trout missed a 42-yard field goal attempt, the Stars sacked Neuheisel on three of four plays. On the third sack, by Dave Opfar, Neuheisel fumbled and George Cooper recovered on the Gunslingers' 29.
A scramble by Fusina gained 11 yards, but he incurred a deep bruise on his right buttock on the play and came out. Tim Riordan, second-year backup from Temple, passed to Ken Dunek to the 11. Kelvin Bryant fought up the middle to the one, then dove across.
It appeared it would remain a two-touchdown lead at the half, but, as time expired, Neuheisel lofted a desperation pass 50 yards -- 44 yards from scrimmage -- over the Stars defense and into Frank Lockett's hands in the end zone.
Fusina received a shot of procaine and started the second half. Nick Mike-Mayer made a 44-yard field goal, drawing San Antonio to 14-10, then Fusina went back to work.
The former Penn State athlete directed a seven-play, 66-yard drive with three runs (16 yards) and four passes (42 yards). The touchdown was an 11-yard pass to Tom Donovan.
Mike Lush intercepted Neuheisel with 12:27 left in the game. Bryant (11 rushes, 73 yards) ran 30 yards on the next play, breaking several tackles to the San Antonio 27. On third and 14, Fusina lofted another touchdown pass, to James Caver.
"It was just a blah day," said San Antonio's Gil Steinke, 0-2 in his return as coach.