When these two teams played earlier in the season, St. Louis routed Vegas in the desert, 29-6. Vegas was eliminated from postseason contention last week, but will look to play spoiler.
Meanwhile, St. Louis can’t afford to drop the ball. With both DC and Seattle playing as well as they are, the Battlehawks need to find a way to get a win against a weaker Vipers squad. The job got all the more difficult, when it was revealed that AJ McCarron would not be starting due to an injury – handing the reins to Nick Tiano.
Let’s take a look at what happened, as it was an entertaining showdown at The Dome.
Vegas received the football to start the game, and were set up with excellent field position thanks to a big return by Cinque Sweating. Jalan McClendon got his second start for the team, and looked excellent. His ability to run the football really opened up the Vipers offense, and it showed on their opening drive.
John Lovett ripped off a nice run to get them inside the five yard line, and then finished the job off on the very next play. A successful two point try made it an 8-0 ball game early on, with Vegas in front.
After picking up a couple of first downs, St. Louis had to punt the football, stalling out mid-field. Meanwhile, the Vipers continued to play like a well-oiled machine. McClendon was sharp, staying under control while pushing the ball down the field. Heading into the second period, the Vipers were ready to score once again.
Despite getting down to the one yard line, Vegas shot themselves in the foot. A bad snap pushed them backwards, and the team eventually settled for a field goal. Sam Sloman came onto the field for his first attempt of the season, being signed by the Vipers this week, and knocked it through.
Vegas wasn’t fazed, however. They quickly marched right back into Battlehawks territory, looking poised to score once again. On 3rd down, though, McClendon was picked off by LeVert Hill, and it appeared as if the drive was over. Rod Woodson decided to challenge the call, realizing that there was a penalty on the play. After review by Dean Blandino, the Vipers regained possession of the football.
A big-time sack by Carson Wells set up a field goal from Sloman. He missed the 43 yard attempt, and St. Louis took over.
The Battlehawks looked solid with Tiano at the helm, making plays with his legs and his arm. However, Marwin Evans picked off Nick in the end zone, as Vegas got a turnover right back. Tiano forced the pass into triple coverage, which wasn’t the best idea, especially at that moment.
Big-time interception by Marwin Evans, ending this @XFLBattlehawks drive short.
It wasn’t an ideal start for the Battlehawks coming out of the half. After getting into field goal range, Vegas put the clamps on defense. Donny Hageman missed a 47 yard field goal, and the score remained the same.
The Vipers couldn’t capitalize, as St. Louis shut down their drive quickly. Carrizosa punted it away, and it went into the endzone, giving the Battlehawks the ball at the 35 yard line. Tiano missed on a couple of throws, though, and they sent the ball back to Vegas.
It was a relatively uneventful third quarter. At the same time, the broadcast was a bit all over the place, which didn’t add to the viewing experience. With only fifteen minutes left to play, Vegas still led 11-8.
St. Louis’ defense came up huge to start the fourth. Travis Feeney got home to McClendon, and Lacale London snagged the ball out of mid-air to give the Battlehawks possession.
With their backs up against a wall, Anthony Becht went into his bag of tricks. Sterling Hofrichter, the punter, pulled off a fake punt to perfection, throwing a pass to Gary Jennings. Jennings took off, taking it to the house for St. Louis.
WOW. Sterling Hofrichter, the @XFLBattlehawks punter, just pulled off a PERFECT fake punt, finding Gary Jennings who rumbled into the end zone.
The team could not convert the three point attempt, so Vegas still held a 17-14 lead. On a key third down, McClendon took off, scrambling to keep the drive alive. However, Cinque Sweating dropped a pass on 3rd and 5, and St. Louis had one more chance with the ball.
Nick Tiano put the team on his back on the final drive of the quarter. He seamlessly led the team down the field, putting them in a position to tie the game. Donny Hageman hit the 34 yard field goal, and we were knotted up at 17.
Vegas had virtually no time left, so we went into the first overtime of the XFL season.
In overtime, each team trades turns trying two point conversions, with three each. Vegas started with the ball.
The first try for the Vipers was successful, at least at first glance. However, Dean Blandino saw that Cam Sutton was short during review, and St. Louis took over.
Nick Tiano fired a strike to Hakeem Butler, who scored for the Battlehawks – and they went in front 19-17.
Then, Martavis Bryant was called for offensive pass interference for the Vegas Vipers, and their conversion was called back. Brian Hill ran it in for the St. Louis Battlehawks, icing the game entirely.
The Battlehawks took this overtime win, 21-17 in wild fashion.
Nick Tiano burst out of the gate hot for St. Louis, but cooled off in the wrong way as the game continued. His lack of in-game experience showed in the second half especially, as he tried to force passes into windows that simply weren’t there.
Thankfully for Anthony Becht and the Battlehawks, they managed to come away with the win. Special teams stepped up in a big way, and ultimately put the team in a position to win.
How about the first XFL overtime of the season? That was something special.
Rod Woodson has to be proud of his Vegas Vipers for putting up such a strong fight, in a tough atmosphere. Jalan McClendon made things happen for his team, despite dealing with a lot of pressure and noise. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as they blew the lead at the end.
What did you think of this game between the St. Louis Battlehawks and Vegas Vipers? Which XFL players impressed you the most? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!