Scoring came easily for the Baltimore Stars yesterday as they routed the Orlando Renegades, 41-10, in a U.S. Football League game at College Park's Byrd Stadium.
The defending league champions got even better news last night, when Memphis' 31-0 victory over Jacksonville assured the Stars (9-7-1) of one of the eight berths in the league playoffs.
Baltimore's scoring parade against Orlando went like this: rookie wide receiver James Caver caught touchdown passes of 23 and 17 yards in his first start for the Stars, Kelvin Bryant caught another of two yards from Chuck Fusina and had an eight-yard scoring run, and receiver Tom Donovan recovered a blocked punt in the end zone.
David Trout added field goals of 37 and 51 yards to help the Stars to their season high in scoring, their previous best of 34 points coming in their first meeting with the Renegades in Orlando.
With Tampa Bay closing out the Stars' regular-season schedule next week, it was an encouraging sign for Baltimore after last week's 14-7 loss to playoff-bound Birmingham. However, it might have been expected against the Renegades, formerly the Washington Federals. The Renegades (3-14) are ranked last in the USFL in both offense and defense, and are giving up 29.6 points a game.
"All year long we've come back after tough losses and gotten a good win," Coach Jim Mora said. "Granted, Orlando is not the best defensive team in the league. But they're a lot better than the Federals."
Yesterday's victory came before another sparse crowd. There were 6,988 sitting in a drizzle at Byrd Stadium, with 11,000 no-shows.
The Stars took a 14-3 lead into halftime and broke clear at the start of the third quarter by scoring 14 points in two minutes, on Caver's second touchdown, a 17-yarder from Chuck Fusina, and Donovan's blocked punt.
Caver's score was set up by Orlando quarterback Reggie Collier's fumble on the first series of the half. On third and five at the Orlando 17, Fusina, who completed 19 of 26 passes for 203 yards and the three touchdowns, found Caver in the back corner of the end zone in double coverage.
Donovan's block came on the next series. With Greg Cater punting from his 25, Donovan led the rush to get a hand on the ball and chased it into the end zone for a 28-3 lead.
Trout's field goals came next and Bryant, who rushed for 81 yards on 16 carries and had six receptions for 30 yards, caught his scoring pass from Fusina with 9:56 left.
The Renegades' only touchdown came on a six-yard run by Curtis Bledsoe that was set up when Garcia Lane fumbled a punt at the Stars' 38. Linebacker Fred McCallister recovered for the Renegades.
"We got beat in every phase of the game," Orlando Coach Lee Corso said. "They have a nice-looking ball club, they are coming on strong, they're a title contender again."
The Stars' 14-3 lead at the half came on Bryant's eight-yard run and Caver's 23-yard reception, after they had been shut out for 23 minutes.
Caver, a rookie out of Missouri, has been the surprise of the season for the Stars. He had been cut in training camp but was brought back six weeks ago when Willie Collier was lost to a fractured clavicle. Caver had been the Stars' leading receiver in the last three games, coming in as a substitute for 13 receptions for 166 yards. He had five for 93 yards yesterday.