Ed Luther passed for one touchdown and Mike Rozier ran for another, but it was the Jacksonville defense which made the difference as the Bulls upset the Birmingham Stallions, 27-17, in front of 41,298 Sunday at Jacksonville, Fla.
Jacksonville (5-5) got its final points on defense when Derrick Batiste intercepted Cliff Stoudt’s pass and returned it 12 yards for a touchdown with 1:54 remaining. The Bulls’ defenders set up 10 other points with turnovers.
Batiste also stopped the final Stallion drive with another interception at the Jacksonville 35.
Early in the second quarter, Bulls free safety Chester Gee grabbed Stoudt’s tipped pass at the Birmingham 40. That set up Luther’s 15-yard touchdown strike to split end Perry Kemp.
The Stallions (7-3) also lost a fumble, setting up one of two field goals by Bulls kicker Brian Franco. The kicks went 49 and 31 yards.
Rozier, who gained 79 yards on 17 carries, ran 11 yards for a touchdown with 10:02 remaining in the third quarter.
Stoudt tossed touchdown passes of 26 yards to tight end Robin Earl and 25-yards to Joey Jones.
Tampa Bay 28, Baltimore 14--John Reaves broke a 7-7 halftime tie with two long touchdown pass plays and the Bandits beat the Stars in front of a crowd of 41,226 at Tampa, Fla., to move into a first-place tie with Birmingham in the Eastern Conference.
Reaves connected with Larry Brodsky on a 47-yard play and with Jerry Price on a 57-yarder.
Gary Anderson, who rushed for 106 yards, had a two-yard scoring run in the second period for Tampa Bay (7-3) and Greg Boone capped the scoring with a one-yard plunge with 2:13 left.
The Stars (4-5-1) scored on Kelvin Bryant’s nine-yard run in the second quarter and Chuck Fusina’s 16-yard scoring pass to Willie Collier with 51 seconds left.
Houston 38, San Antonio 29--Jim Kelly threw four touchdown passes, two each to Gerald McNeil and Richard Johnson, and the Gamblers beat the Gunslingers in front of 9,723 fans at San Antonio.
San Antonio (3-7) had the league’s second-best pass defense, but Kelly picked it apart by hitting 29 of 40 passes for 282 yards.
Houston (7-3) broke the game open when Kelly threw touchdown passes on the Gamblers’ first three possessions of the second half.
The Gamblers’ Clarence Verdin returned a second-quarter kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown, breaking the league record of 97 yards by Derrick Crawford of the Memphis Showboats last year. It was Verdin’s third kickoff return for a touchdown this year.