Heading into this game, both teams were coming off of contrasting wins in week one. Arlington struggled as an offense, but defeated Vegas fueled by their incredible defense. On the other hand, Houston straight up dominated Orlando from start to finish.
The Texas Throwdown is back, and in full effect. Let’s take a look at what happened, as it was entertaining throughout its entirety.
Things got off to a wild start in Houston. On the very first play from scrimmage, Drew Plitt threw an interception straight to Ajene Harris, and Arlington turned it over.
Brandon Silvers and the Roughnecks took over, but couldn’t capitalize fully on the great field position. They settled for a field goal, as Hunter Duplessis knocked through the 42 yard attempt.
It was a disastrous start for Arlington. Drew Plitt was sacked on back to back plays, forcing a punt. Will Likely, the returner for Houston, put the team inside the ten yard line. Then, Silvers found Nick Holley on a dart, and the Roughnecks took a 9-0 lead.
The two point attempt was tipped – but, somehow ended up in the hands of Jontre Kirklin, and Houston led 11-0. Meanwhile, the Renegades looked incompetent on offense, punting once again.
Silvers just missed Nick Holley on a deep route, which led to the Roughnecks having to punt. Heading into the second period, Houston was on top 11-0.
Arlington had the ball to start the second quarter, but really struggled offensively. TaVante Beckett tipped a pass from Plitt, forcing an incompletion. On the punt, though, Will Likely fumbled – and Sal Cannella recovered for the Renegades.
With a fresh set of downs, Arlington made something happen. Drew Plitt found Lujuan Winningham in the end zone, and just like that, it was an 11-6 ball game.
Lujuan Winningham has been balling out for the @XFLRenegades tonight.
First, he forces a fumble on the punt, to give Arlington a fresh set of downs. Then, he catches a dart from Drew Plitt, pulling the Renegades back within one score. #XFL | @XFL2023pic.twitter.com/HbuKLTk2se
Houston seemed to lose some of their spark offensively, as they were forced to punt again. Arlington was about to hand the ball right back to the Roughnecks – but once again, caught a break.
Lujuan Winningham forced another fumble on Will Likely during the punt return, and Arlington jumped on it. Despite the Renegades being pretty lackluster on offense, they continued to create turnovers that gave them much needed boosts.
On third and nine, Plitt found Nate Becker, who strolled into the endzone. On a wild two point attempt, Plitt somehow got the ball to Tyler Vaughns, and Arlington led 14-11.
The Houston Roughnecks marched down the field, and looked poised to score. However, Deontay Burnett coughed the ball up, and Josh Hawkins recovered for Arlington. For the third time in this quarter alone, Houston lost a fumble.
Luckily for Houston, the Renegades were unable to generate points off the turnover. Taylor Russolino came up short on a 55 yard field goal, and we went into halftime with a 14-11 score.
It wasn’t an ideal start to the second half for Houston. The team went three and out, even though they were set up with fantastic field position. Arlington didn’t look much better, though, and had to punt as well.
This time, Houston got into a rhythm on offense. Brandon Silvers looked much smoother on this drive, pushing the ball down the field. He found Cedric Byrd across the middle, who bounced himself off a couple of tacklers and into the end zone – giving the Roughnecks a 17-14 lead.
The Arlington Renegades had excellent field position, after a poor kickoff. However, Drew Plitt fumbled, and Jack Heflin recovered for the Roughnecks. A big sack from Willie Taylor put Houston in a tough spot, and they punted right back.
For the rest of the third quarter, it was a punt-fest. Neither offense could find a way to convert on third down, as we went into the final fifteen minutes with a 17-14 ball game.
It was not a great second half for the Arlington Renegades, at least from an offensive perspective. Plitt was picked off once again, this time by Sean Davis.
Houston once again marched down the field, as they continued to gel on offense. Will Hill did pick off Brandon Silvers – but it was negated by a penalty. This allowed the Roughnecks to get in the red zone, and score once again. Max Borghi took it up the middle, and put Houston in front 23-14.
The Renegades had no answers for Houston’s onslaught on defense. On back to back plays, Houston pushed Arlington backwards, finishing their drive off with a huge sack on Plitt. With just a few minutes left to play, it was simply another punt for Arlington.
On third down, Silvers completed a crucial pass to Ben Putnam for the first down, which allowed Houston to continue chewing the clock down. Houston eventually prevailed, winning the first Texas Throwdown of the season: 23-14.
This was an excellent win for Wade Phillips and his Houston Roughnecks. This team is 2-0 on the season, and still has never lost a game in the XFL. The duo of Brandon Silvers and Cole McDonald at quarterback is a unique combination that is working quite well in AJ Smith’s offense. As of right now, Houston looks like the most complete team in the XFL.
Arlington is going to have to figure things out this week. Bob Stoops might want to think about switching quarterbacks, as Drew Plitt has been quite underwhelming so far this season. The good news for the Renegades: they play the Orlando Guardians next.
Week three of the XFL kicks off on Saturday, as the Vegas Vipers host the Seattle Sea Dragons. The game starts at 7pm ET, and will be streamed on FX and ESPN+.
What are your thoughts on this Texas Throwdown between the Houston Roughnecks and Arlington Renegades? Which players had the best XFL performances today? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!