Week 1 of the 2023 XFL season brought no shortage of drama, from one-handed touchdowns to pick-sixes. Think Week 2 would lack in the excitement factor? Think again.
The Sea Dragons battled back from a 17-12 fourth-quarter deficit to score a go-ahead touchdown in the final two minutes, only for AJ McCarron to drive the Battlehawks down the field and set up a walk-off 44-yard field goal.
Despite trailing the Vipers 6-0 at halftime, the Defenders scored 18 unanswered second-half points in the pouring Las Vegas rain to improve to 2-0 and stay atop the XFL standings.
Jack Coan outdueled both Paxton Lynch and Deondre Francois on Sunday afternoon as the Brahmas avoided an 0-2 start with an 18-point win over the Guardians.
All XFL games will be streamed live on ESPN+ and are available on the ESPN family of networks (ABC, ESPN and FX).
This weekend’s games
San Antonio Brahmas 30, Orlando Guardians 12
Jack Coan threw for 169 yards and three touchdowns, including this acrobatic dart to Alize Mack that gave San Antonio the lead for good toward the end of the second quarter.
Meanwhile, the Guardians couldn’t get into a rhythm after Paxton Lynch threw a touchdown to Eli Rogers on their opening drive. They committed 13 penalties, missed a field goal right before halftime and had a punt blocked deep in their own territory that set up a 7-yard touchdown from Coan to Mack.
Lynch finished 9-for-19 for 79 yards and was sacked twice. Deondre Francois was 6-for-13 for eight yards, a touchdown and an interception.
St. Louis Battlehawks 20, Seattle Sea Dragons 18
The Sea Dragons started off hot, taking a 12-0 lead on Ben DiNucci’s 54-yard touchdown pass to Jahcour Pearson and three-point conversion to Josh Gordon. But after AJ McCarron and the Battlehawks rattled off 17 unanswered points, it was up to DiNucci to lead the Sea Dragons back.
With the ball on their own 40 and 3:11 to play, DiNucci orchestrated a seven-play, 60-yard drive, ending with a touchdown pass to Jordan Veasy on fourth-and-goal to retake the lead.
But McCarron wanted to play hero himself. McCarron had rushes of 11 and 12 yards, then found George Campbell for an 11-yard completion to put the Battlehawks into opposing territory with 50 seconds remaining. Three plays later, he found Austin Proehl for nine yards, setting up Donald Hageman’s game-winning 44-yard field goal as time expired.
DC Defenders 18, Vegas Vipers 6
The Defenders and Vipers played in harsh field conditions at Cashman Field in Las Vegas. If it wasn’t clear that it was a rain game, the teams combined for four fumbles, two missed field goals and 320 rushing yards.
The weather and field conditions factored into the Vipers’ Bailey Giffen slipping on a 23-yard field goal attempt.
The Defenders trailed 6-0 early in the first quarter. After Jordan Ta’amu was sacked and lost the ball deep inside his own territory, Vegas’ DeAndre Torrey capitalized with a 2-yard rushing touchdown. But the Defenders wouldn’t allow another point and would dominate on the ground, as they outrushed the Vipers 229-91 to improve to 2-0
D’Eriq King (12 yards) and Abram Smith (nine yards) both scored rushing touchdowns in a 15-point fourth quarter as the Defenders improved to 2-0.
Smith, Ta’amu and Ryquell Armstead each ran for over 50 yards.
Ben DiNucci threw for 196 yards and two touchdowns Thursday, with this 54-yarder to Jahcour Pearson putting the Sea Dragons up 12-0 in the second quarter.
Can’t be stopped
The Sea Dragons’ Morgan Ellison would not go down.
King of the XFL
At the college level, D’Eriq King threw for 76 touchdowns, ran for 32 and caught three more in his six seasons at Houston and Miami. He scored his first one at the XFL level Saturday.
Travis Jonsen ran untouched to the punter and came up with a pivotal block in the third quarter. On the next play, Alize Mack caught a dump-off pass from Jack Coan and maneuvered his way into the end zone for the score.
Battlehawks taking over
The Battlehawks turned up with Bankroll Fresh’s “Take Over Your Trap” in the postgame locker room, featuring victory cigars.
Hit the celly
Jontre Kirklin broke out the dance moves after scoring a two-point conversion.
NFL rookie giving props
New York Jets defensive end Jermaine Johnson isn’t letting the offseason stop him from watching football.
AJ McCarron’s emotional return
McCarron had appeared in only 17 NFL games from 2015 to 2020. Since his first son, Tripp, was born in 2016, he had started just one NFL game and attempted 55 passes. Playing in front of his family, which he said “is a great way to create some memories for me and my boys,” is one of the reasons he opted to play in the XFL.
“I miss playing. … Being a backup, that’s a great living, it really is and I absolutely love it,” McCarron said. “But I love playing, and this is special.”
What is really said in the huddle
Deondre Francois was mic’d up in the huddle and, well, listen for yourself.
Guardians coach Terrell Buckley was asked if he could find any positives from his team’s loss. His answer was short and not so sweet.
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