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This past week’s schedule featured the XFL’s first Monday night game, highlighting the teams at the top of both divisions. The leaders of the North and South featuring Washington DC and Houston as the big ticket item for Week 6.
The rematch, after the Arlington Brahmas and San Antonio Renegades battled in Week 5, had playoff implications. If Arlington secured the sweep, it gives them a clear upper hand for second in the South.
Meanwhile, the Orlando Guardians battled the league’s top offense in Seattle to face the Sea Dragons for a shot at their first win as a franchise while the Vegas Vipers tried to build on the momentum from their win to beat St. Louis Battlehawks.
Saturday (1:00 pm EDT ) – Seattle Sea Dragons (4-2) defeat the Orlando Guardians (0-6), 26-19
With Sea Dragons’ running back Morgan Ellison out due to injury, the Guardians had an easier time slowing down the Seattle offense. This helped them take a lead (10-9) going into the half for the first time this season.
Orlando battled well against the league’s leader in passing yardage, Ben DiNucci. DiNucci only threw for a season-low 177 yards, completing 18 of 35 attempts. He was also Seattle’s top rusher with 43 of the team’s 78 yards.
20 yard TD by Blake Jackson. #XFL | @XFLSeaDragons pic.twitter.com/88KisWBsm6
— XFL (@XFL2023) March 25, 2023
The Guardians kept their opponent out of the endzone for the entirety of the first half. Seattle’s kicker Dominik Eberle kept his team in striking distance despite red zone failures. He booted in four field goals total, including a league-record 54-yarder (at the time).
Orlando had the most balanced offensive performance of the year with Quinton Dormandy starting for the first time ahead of Paxton Lynch and Deondre Francois. He threw no interceptions for the second week in a row, delivering 24 completions on 44 attempts for 243 yards.
The running game did its part turning in 162 yards on 22 carries. The leading effort came from Devin Darrington who ran it seven times for 82 yards and two scores, including a 43-yarder to paydirt. He was also responsible for Orlando’s only turnover with a lost fumble late in the game.
If the Guardians could clean up special teams (they had a punt blocked) and could cut down on penalties, they’d be better than 0-6.
Saturday (7:00 pm EDT) – St. Louis Battlehawks (4-2) defeat the Vegas Vipers (1-5), 29-6
The time in the winner’s circle for the Vipers seems to have lasted only a week as they hosted an angry Battlehawks team. St. Louis led 23-0 going into the fourth quarter in a game where their quarterback A.J. McCarron showed out.
McCarron connected for 23 completions out of his 29 attempts passing with 236 yards and three touchdowns.
What’s better than 𝙤𝙣𝙚 INT? 😏 pic.twitter.com/cVBz4qBCao
— St. Louis Battlehawks (@XFLBattlehawks) March 26, 2023
Cornerback Lavery Hill had a day in his own right, hauling in two interceptions of Viper’s quarterback Luis Perez. Perez threw 20 times for 88 yards on 13 completions before being pulled for Brett Hundley.
Sunday (3:00 pm EDT) San Antonio Brahmas (2-4) defeat the Arlington Renegades (3-3), 15-9
It’s not often that teams battle one another in back-to-back weeks in football. It’s also rare that Arlington and San Antonio give up a lot of points.
This week was no different as both defenses were relentless. The Brahmas’ only touchdown of the game came on a fumble recovery and score from sacking Arlington’s quarterback Drew Pitt. Delonte Scott forced the fumble while Jordan Williams took it 44 yards for touchdown.
An unbelievable TD catch from @LWinningham11 🤯
All tied up with 8:38 left to go in the third! pic.twitter.com/KEkaoPjF1b
— XFL (@XFL2023) March 26, 2023
The Renegades managed to tie the game with the help of one of the best catches of the year by LuJuan Willingham and a field goal. However, San Antonio’s defense shutting out Arlington in the 4th quarter and the help of their kicker Dana Romo connecting for three field goals including a league-record 56-yarder sealed the deal to keep their playoff hopes alive.
That being said, San Antonio will need a lot of help if they hope to go from 2-4 to the top two spots in the South division.
Monday (7:00 pm EDT) – DC Defenders (6-0) defeat the Houston Roughnecks (4-2), 37-26
As the only remaining undefeated team when this game kicked off, the Defenders hosted the Roughnecks in the shadow of the beer snake of Audi Field. While Houston featured one of the most balanced offenses in the XFL thus far, DC is a team that is most famous for their ground game.
The Roughnecks took the early 8-0 lead in the first quarter after slowing the DC running attack, then Defenders earned their nickname with excellence defense for yet another week. For the third time this season, they turn in a pick-six by way of safety Santos Ramirez to make it 17-8 at the half.
.@sramirez_9 PICK. SIX. 🔥@XFLDefenders lead 17-8 at the half! pic.twitter.com/eKU4uXszl7
— XFL (@XFL2023) March 28, 2023
In the third quarter, quarterback Jordan Ta’amu attacked Houston through the air, which lead to his biggest passing production of the year. He delivered season-highs with 245 yards and two touchdowns on 19 completions. Wide receiver Lucky Johnson also had a season-high five catches for 136 yards and a touchdown.
Meanwhile, Houston’s Brandon Silver had his worst game passing with 111 yards on 17 attempts with 10 completions. Cole McDonald came in to try and give his team a spark after Silver’s early struggles, delivering eight completions on 11 passes for 194 yards including an 85-yarder to Deontay Burnett.
The biggest stat that kept DC undefeated? — Penalties. Houston’s 12 to DC’s 3 is the telltale sign of how the Roughnecks went soft in the middle for two quarters.