The Defending TSL Champion Generals Outlast the Jousters 21-19
The Spring League - Aaron Meullion

The Defending TSL Champion Generals Outlast the Jousters 21-19

Capping off the first week of TSL action the league makes its FOX debut, with the Jousters taking on the defending champions the Generals. The Jousters sees the return of the qb/coach combo of Luis Perez and Kevin Gilbride. On the Generals side, we have Bart Andrus joined by former Patriots backup Ryan Mallett.

The first three TSL games were aired on FS1, but the league now has the opportunity to shine on broadcast television. This year every game will be televised, which is a huge leap forward from where we were last season. With The Spring League’s partnership with FOX, the league has the potential to capitalize on the missing XFL season.

Today’s matchup takes place at The Spring League’s South Division hub Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas. Needless to say, the weather is perfect, although slightly windy.

1st Quarter

As with all of the games this weekend, both teams were still working on gelling together. Neither were able to get much action out of their drives. That was until near the 1st quarter, with former New York Guardians QB Luis Perez on the field under his former coach Kevin Gilbride.

Perez was able to keep the ball moving down the field, brining the Jousters within striking distance. With 3:32 left in the first Perez masterfully tossed the ball to Donnie Ernsbereger who ran it in for the score. After a successful extra-point attempt the Jousters now held a 7-0 lead over the Generals.

With the Generals and Mallett back in control of the ball, they were looking to get back into the game. Mallett was able to get the ball within scoring position, but could not find the end-zone. The teams opted to attempt a 37-yard field goal, erasing the 0 from their score.

2nd Quarter

The Jousters were looking to add to their lead, and Luis Perez was looking really good while doing it. They did have a close call when Perez was almost intercepted by CJ Jones of the Generals. The ruling on the field was that the ball hit the ground, but Generals head coach challenged the play, to no avail. After the officials reviewed the play, the incomplete pass call stood.

Even though the Jousters won the battle, the war was not quite over. The next play resulted in a huge sack pushing Perez back a good 8-yards. The team was not in no position to score on 4th down, resulting in them opting to punt back to the Generals. Mallett did get close to connecting to Suell in the end-zone, but he could not maintain control of the ball.

On 3rd and 8, Mallett tried to secure the first down himself, coming up just a couple yards short. The Generals, decided to go for the three points and came out on top. The Generals were now within 1 of the Jousters 7-6 with a little under 5 minutes left in the half.

Mallett and the Generals not wanting to stay behind for long went into action. Mallett was taking the game into his own hands and looked to show what he’s made of. He tossed a long ball to Darnell Holland, and connected for a 65-yard play to the end-zone. The play was under review because it looked as if Holland let go of the ball right before crossing into the end-zone, but the officials decided that the call stood.

Andrus and the Generals opted for a 2-point conversion, but could not complete. Regardless, the Generals now lead the Jousters 12-7 with just over a minute left in the half.

The Jousters were hoping to get out of the deficit with time running out, but luck was not on their side. Perez tried to lodge one down the field, but was caught by CJ Jones of the Generals with 20-seconds left in the half.

Mallet was hoping to get the team into scoring position to add to their slim lead. With limited time on the clock, he was not able to get the team where they needed to be. With 4 seconds left, the team lined up for a field goal but called a timeout prior to the snap. They ultimately decided to go for it, and Lirim Hajrullahu came in to best is record knocking in a massive 59-yard field goal.

The Generals end the half with 15 unanswered points, 9 of which were acquired in the last 1:09 in the half. They now lead the Jousters 15-7 with 2 quarters left.

3rd Quarter

The Generals will look to add to their lead, starting the second half with possession of the ball. Mallett was still looking impressive, but could not get the ball moving. The team ended up punting to the Jousters, giving them their first possession of the 3rd quarter.

Drew Andrews took over the reigns for Luis Perez to start out the Jousters second half drive. Gilbride was clearly making adjustments at the half, as the Jousters were now focusing more on their ground game. This strategy proved to be successful, bringing the franchise into the red-zone.

After a few attempts, Anderson finally found his man. He was able to toss it to Donnie Ernsbereger who secured his second touchdown of the game. Gilbride kept the offense on the field for a two-point conversion, but after two attempts could not secure the points. They are now within two of the Generals, 15-13.

4th Quarter

The Generals started out the 4th quarter with possession, hoping to add to their lead and widen the point margin. Mallett, still in at QB, continued to look like a well oiled machine. He was trowing very well and was able to move the ball down the field, but his receivers could connect in the end-zone.

Andrus and co. decided to go for the field goal, going successful off a 47-yard attempt adding to their lead, bringing the game to 18-13.

The Jousters take control of the ball once again, with plenty of time to score left in the game. Drew Anderson continued on as QB for the Jousters, looking to secure his first points of the game. Anderson was able to break free of a few tackles after a high snap, connecting with his receiver for the first down. Putting them in great position with 6:13 left in the game.

Presented with a 4th & 3, Gilbride and the Jousters knew they had to go for it if they wanted to stay in the game. Unfortunately for the team, they could not secure the first down. Luckily, the Generals made a huge mistake going off-side giving the Jousters the first down.

Anderson knew this second chance could be their last chance. He was able to connect with Joshua Simmons to bring them to 1st & goal at the 4-yard line.

The Generals, now down for the first time in the second half were looking to get back on top before the clock runs out. Mallett continued to be impressive with his ball movement, giving the Generals a first down at the two-minute warning. Time management coming into play, the team called a timeout. The hope was that they could design a play to bring them within field goal position. After a loss of yardage, Mallett was able to get it to Devin Gray, who was almost able to secure the first down on an impressive run.

With Lirim Hajrullahu back in the game, he was able to successfully knock in a 49-yard field goal. With 1:24 left in the game, the Generals now lead the Jousters 21-19.

The Jousters know all they need to do is get within field goal position before the game runs out. It’s still going to b tricky as the wind is working against them. Gilbride opted to keep Drew Anderson in at QB, hoping to give him the opportunity to get the W. Just when everything looked like it was going their way, Drew Anderson threw the ball away, being intercepted by the Generals giving them the chance to run out the clock.

The defending TSL champions go 1-0 on the season, taking out the Jousters 21-19.

Stars of the Game

  • Donnie Ernsberger – Two Touchdowns for the Jousters
  • Ryan Mallett –  Secures victory in football return
  • Lirim Hajrullahu – Massive 59-yard field goal

What did you think of the first week of The Spring League season? Let us know down in the comments below or join the conversation on Discord.