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While two teams were fighting for their first win of the season, the rest of the league was still locked in competition to be one of the top two teams in their division to get to the playoffs. XFL action came alive in Week 5 as an undefeated team fell, and the top two teams in the North division did battle in an epic rematch… and that was just the beginning.
Thursday Night: Houston Roughnecks vs. Seattle Sea Dragons, 14-21
The team with arguably the league’s best offense hosted the team with the XFL’s best defense. Seattle Quarterback Ben DiNucci currently leads the league in passing yards as well as interceptions. Both of those stats are a result of Thursday night’s game. DiNucci threw for 209 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions, completing 17 of his 32 passes, while leading the team in rushing with 33 yards and a touchdown on four carries.
Morgan Ellison, the leading rusher going into this game, was banged up and didn’t see the field for the Sea Dragons until the second half. Ellison had a fourth turnover for the squad, losing a fumble.
— Seattle Sea Dragons (@XFLSeaDragons) March 17, 2023
The Roughnecks did make a game of it after being down 15-0 for three quarters. They had a chance to win with the “make it take it,” giving them the ball with 30 seconds left in the game, but it was too little too late as Houston was the victim of good defense for once.
Houston quarterback Brandon Silvers threw 47 times to complete 25 passes for 227 yards featuring a 47-yard touchdown as well as an interception and a lost fumble. The Roughnecks weren’t much better on the ground, only producing 52 yards running on 13 total carries.
Saturday 7:00 pm EDT: DC Defender vs. St. Louis Battlehawks, 28-20
One undefeated team fell, but the other kept their streak alive. Facing the best home field advantage in the XFL so far, the Defenders went on the road to win the rematch between these squads and put some distance between them and the rest of the North division.
The previous battle between these two teams ended with a scuffle that led to three ejections. This time around didn’t disappoint despite the lack of extracurricular activity.
— D.C. Defenders (@XFLDefenders) March 19, 2023
Hard-hitting defense was a theme throughout the game starting on the opening drive where the Battlehawks protected their house on the goalline. This continued throughout the rest of the first quarter where both teams were scoreless for first the first time in league history.
It would only be appropriate that a team called the Defenders secures a win via an interception by Michael Joseph to kill a potential equalizing drive.
Offensively, it was the Abram Smith show. While their quarterback Jordan Ta’amu accounted for only 90 yards passing, completing 12 of his 18 throws, Smith had 218 rushing yards on 12 carries with three touchdowns including a 62 and 70-yarder. 70 yards is currently the longest run in the league.
Battlehawks quarterback A.J. McCarron put up a strong fight, delivering 22 completions on 34 attempts with two touchdowns, including a 50-yard bomb to Steven Mitchell, along with an interception and a lost fumble. Brian Hill was a factor in ground support with 79 yards on 14 carries.
Saturday 10:00 pm EDT: Orlando Guardians vs. Vegas Vipers, 32-35
In the battle of the “all-defeated” teams, the only thing one could expect was that someone would get their first franchise win on Saturday. No one expected this to be the game that would be the highest-scoring contest in XFL history.
Orlando struck first for the fourth time in five games, but it was the Vipers who stood guard with 1:00 left, denying the 3-point conversion and securing the win. Both teams had played better offense than they had all year.
Vipers lead 35-26. pic.twitter.com/io00L79Fta
— Vegas Vipers (@XFLVipers) March 19, 2023
Las Vegas quarterback Luis Perez connected on 20 of his 28 passes for 269 yards with two scores to Jeff Badet, who caught five passes for 80 yards. Rod Smith complimented the air attack, rushing for 62 yards on 18 carries and a pair of touchdowns of his own.
While they are now 0-5 with the season half over, Orlando’s quarterback Quinten Dormandy has become an amazing story. After playing in Week 1 and splitting time with Paxton Lynch, Dormandy was inactive for a couple of weeks while the league investigated allegations of him giving San Antonio information about the Guardians’ playbook.
After the news that he was reinstated to play came earlier in the week, he took the field late in the second quarter after Lynch got his fifth straight start. With Dormandy delivering 22 completions on 25 attempts for an amazing 88% in the Guardians’ first game without a turnover, he seems assured the start against the Sea Dragons next week. He posted 256 yards of production with touchdowns to Cody Lattimore and Charleston Rambo.
Sunday 9:00 pm EDT Arlington Renegades vs. San Antonio Brahmas. 12-10
Not sure what it is about the Arlington Renegades, but every time they play, points are at a premium — even for their offense. While 12-10 isn’t the lowest score in the XFL this season, it is only outdone by their 10-9 victory over the Guardians.
That being said, Brahmas head coach Hines Ward has to be the most frustrated by this outcome as he promoted running backs coach Jimmie Johnson to offensive coordinator. Ward demoted the former coordinator, Jaime Elizondo, to wide receivers coach in hopes to produce a spark for his team to get their second victory since Week 2 in Orlando. They had 181 total yards on the evening.
— XFL (@XFL2023) March 20, 2023
The Renegades forced three turnovers from San Antonio, including an interception by Joe Powell near the goal line that would have been a Brahmas touchdown. On Offense, Arlington ran for 119 yards led by De’Veon Smith, who recorded squad-high 44 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown.