Generals hold off Bandits to clinch spot in USFL playoffs

A local football team finally made the playoffs.

The New Jersey Generals became the first team to qualify for a USFL playoff spot after holding on for a 20-13 victory over the Tampa Bay Bandits at Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday.

But it wasn’t easy.

New Jersey, which built a 17-3 halftime lead, was outscored 10-3 in the second half. Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu led the Bandits to the Generals’ 12-yard line late in the fourth quarter, but New Jersey’s defense stiffened up to secure the victory.

The Generals (6-1), who are first in the USFL’s North Division, jumped out to a quick 7-0 first-quarter lead as quarterback Luis Perez connected on a 15-yard touchdown pass to KaVontae Turpin. Tampa Bay answered with a Tyler Rausa 34-yard field goal in the second quarter to cut the Generals’ lead to 7-3.

But New Jersey answered right back when Darius Victor rushed for a 6-yard touchdown. After missing a 52-yard field goal, kicker Austin Jones tacked on a 35-yarder to give the Generals a 17-3 halftime lead. Jones later hit a 43-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to close out the scoring for New Jersey.

Perez stepped up in place of starting quarterback De’Andre Johnson who was out with a left ankle injury he suffered in last week’s 26-25 win over the Houston Gamblers. Perez completed 19 of 25 passes for 173 yard s and a touchdown. Victor rushed for 72 yards to go along with his touchdown.