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As the XFL’s week eight closes, the playoff picture starts to come into focus. Oddly enough, the only teams out of the playoff conversation are the Vegas Vipers and the Orlando Guardians. That’s only where the storylines begin…
St.Louis Battlehawks (6-2 )defeat the Vegas Vipers (2-6) at home 21-17 in OT.
With St. Louis heading into action without starting quarterback A.J. McCarron, the Vipers had an opportunity to capitalize and potentially play spoiler in the North division.
With the score 11-8 to open the 4th quarter, Vegas was leading as they tacked on another touchdown to make it a nine-point lead. Quarterback Jalen McClendon hit Geronimo Allison for a 27-yard strike for six as one of his 13 completions on 23 attempts for 159 yards. McClendon also led his squad in rushing with 62 yards on 13 carries.
THE ABSOLUTE BESTEST MOST SPECIALEST OF SPECIAL TEAMS pic.twitter.com/G9ESCt79qt
— St. Louis Battlehawks (@XFLBattlehawks) April 8, 2023
Desperate to get back in the game and facing a 4th and 6 on their own 36-yard line, Battlehawks’ head coach Anthony Becht and his staff rolled the dice with punter Sterling Hofrichter. On the ensuing fake punt, Horfrichter hit Gary Jennings for a 64-yard score to make it 17-14.
With 15 seconds in regulation, kicker Donald Hageman completed the parade of special teams success with a 34-yard boot to force the first overtime of the season.
In overtime both teams get three chances to convert as many 2-point conversions as possible. The Battlehawks denied the Vipers on their first two attempts while St.Louis running back Brian Hill redeemed his lost fumble in the game, scoring on their second consecutive conversion.
Arlington Renegades (4-4) defeat the Orlando Guardians (1-7) on the road, 18-16
In a rematch from this season’s lowest-scoring game of the year, the Guardians were hoping to avenge their 10-9 loss to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Renegades’ defense had other plans as they forced five turnovers from Guardians quarterback Quinten Dormandy.
Dormandy had two interceptions and three fumbles due to duress from the Arlington defensive front. He did manage to pass for 303 yards on 28 completions on 43 attempts with a touchdown and a second score rushing that helped keep his squad in the game until the very end, where the Renegades forced the game-winning fumble recovery.
Guardians’ wide receiver Eli Rogers turned in two franchise records, recording 10 catches for 135 yards.
— Arlington Renegades (@XFLRenegades) April 8, 2023
Arlington added another participant in the quarterback carousel in former Vegas Vipers’ signal caller Luis Perez. Perez managed the passing game well, delivering 16 completions on 25 throws with 190 yards, including a 55-yarder to LuJuan Washington.
However, without De Vaunte Bausby’s scoop and score, they may not have been able to eliminate the Guardians from playoff contention. Perez goes from being a field general of an eliminated North Division bottom dweller to sitting in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot in the South Division.
Houston Roughnecks (5-3) defeat the San Antonio Brahmas (2-6) on the road, 17-15 in OT.
After a three-game skid facing all North Division teams, the Houston Roughnecks remain undefeated against South Division opponents. This has them clinching a playoff spot.
The Roughnecks had only 171 total yards on offense, as their quarterback Brandon Silver was back starting, throwing 17 completions on 36 attempts with 146 yards passing with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
3 OTs to decide it 💥 @xflroughnecks clinch their South Division Championship spot.
— XFL (@XFL2023) April 9, 2023
The Brahmas came up with a huge nine-point comeback in the 4th quarter to tie the score in regulation after the offense struggled early. Jack Doan will certainly be challenged for his starting spot in the coming week by newcomer Paxton Lynch after completing 23 passes on 41 attempts for 190 yards with two interceptions.
San Antonio converted a “make it take it” with a minute left in the game on a defensive penalty with the ball on their 25 facing a 4th and 15. (This is what the XFL does in lieu of an onside kick to attempt to retain possession after a score.) This enabled the eventual game-tying field goal by John Parker Romo from 49 yards out.
In overtime, San Antonio failed to convert on all three attempts from the five. But on their third effort, Houston’s backup quarterback Cole McDonald found Deontay Burnett to secure the second overtime win in the XFL this season.
DC Defenders (7-1) defeat the Seattle Sea Dragons (5-3) on the road, 34-33.
For all of the defensive scrums that the rest of XFL Week 8 brought you, this was the second offensive shootout in a row for the DC Defenders that was decided by a single point. This time they secured the victory over the Seattle Sea Dragons, but both quarterbacks had awesome numbers.
DC’s Jordan Ta’amu threw four touchdowns among his 17 completions on 26 attempts with 247 yards and a lost fumble. This included a 70-yard bomb to wide receiver Chris Blair, who finished with five catches for 148 yards.
Seattle’s Ben Dinucci was also prolific with 28 connections on 48 passes for 303 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. This included a 56-yard score from wide receiver Juwan Green, who had seven catches and 143 tards.
— D.C. Defenders (@XFLDefenders) April 9, 2023
The little bit of an edge that the Defenders needed came from the league’s leader in rushing yards, Abram Smith, who had 17 carries for 66 yards and a score.