Capping off Week 5, we have the Tampa Bay Vipers on the road at Dignity Health to take on the Los Angeles Wildcats. Both teams are 1-3, with both teams beating the DC Defenders for their sole victory. In recent weeks Quinton Flowers took a leave of absence from the Vipers, but today he’s back with the team. Taylor Cornelius is getting the start for Tampa Bay and Josh Johnson for Los Angeles.
Before the game kicked off ESPN showed some footage of Johnson looking for his mouthpiece. We never heard if he ever found it or had to borrow someone else’s.
Can someone please help Josh Johnson find his mouthpiece? 😂
Los Angeles still struggled to find their offense, punting back to Tampa Bay in short order. Cornelius continued to move the ball well, ending the drive with a Jacques Patrick touchdown. Coach Trestmen opted for a 1-point attempt and the Vipers successfully converted, extending their lead to 10-0.
Jacques Patrick continues his dominance on the ground
Josh Johnson was hoping for some better luck on this drive. Initially the team was moving the ball, when presented with a 4th and 1 situation they successfully converted giving them a new set of downs. Unfortunately, it was only a couple plays later that Los Angeles fumbled the ball with Tampa Bay recovering.
Tampa Bay takes it away!
The @XFLVipers continue to cause problems for the Wildcats!
Taylor Cornelius continued to play well, helping his team smoothly get into scoring position. Compared to their first two games, Tampa Bay looked like a completely new team. Cornelius proving that he’s the right man for the job, ended the drive running the ball into the end-zone himself.
The team once again opted for the 1-point conversion and once again they were successful. They now had a pretty impressive 17-0 lead early in the second.
Things started to heat up for the Wildcats offense on this drive. Johnson connected with Smallwood, who almost drove it all the way for the touchdown only coming a few yards short before being knocked out of bounds.
Los Angeles decided to go for two, which would leave them within one score. Things got a little crazy though, Johnson was push way back, fumbling the ball with the Vipers almost running it back. Keep in mind, since it was an extra-point conversion Tampa Bay would have only received two points for getting it in the end-zone. Regardless, the Wildcats were a little closer now at 17-6.
The Vipers couldn’t do much with their drive, punting back to Los Angeles. It didn’t matter much though as the Wildcats were not having a good day and miffed the kickoff return giving the Vipers possession in prime scoring position.
The @XFLVipers get their THIRD takeaway of the first half 😤
Like we said earlier, The Vipers looked like a dominant force today. Cornelius with some great legwork once again secured six more for his team, this time connecting with Tolliver at the back edge of the end-zone. Tampa Bay once again decided to go for 1 and once again they converted, extending their lead to 24-6.
Los Angeles once again had control of the ball, this time they seemed to find a little bit of rhythm in their offense. Johnson looked more confident and the team was using more running plays to limit the interceptions. Johnson not only brought the ball within 10, he ended the drive connecting with De’Quan Hampton to add chisel away at the Vipers lead. Coach Moss opted for a 2-point conversion and the team was able to secure the extra-points bringing them within 10 at 24-14.
With less than 2 minutes left in the half Tampa Bay was trying to run down as much of the clock as they could. With the catch-up period rules, this is a little more difficult to achieve, meaning you need to make sure you can get those pivotal first downs to continue the drive. Tampa Bay could only burn so much time before being forced to punt back to Los angeles with 1:03 left in the half.
On their first play of this drive Johnson bombed it down the field to Blacknail putting them at first and goal.
One play later Johnson cashed in on this opportunity this time connecting with Brandon Barnes for his first touchdown of the season. The Wildcats opted for two, but due to offensive pass interference the team was not able to secure them. Regardless, Los Angeles was now within four with two quarters left.
With time running out in the half Cornelius and the Vipers moved the ball enough to allow Andrew Franks to try a 57-yard field goal attempt. As expected, Franks came up a bit short, but Tampa Bay were still up 24-20 going into halftime.
The third quarter started out fairly slow with both teams struggling to get anything going. The Wildcats did opt to attempt a 55-yard field goal, giving Tavecchio his league debut. Unfortunately, this probably wasn’t the debut he was looking for, his kick nearly made it but bounced off the uprights.
Tampa Bay could not capitalize on the field position, punting back to Los Angeles giving Josh Johnson another shot to take the lead. The Josh Johnson that we saw late in the second came back, impressively throwing the ball down the field ending the drive connecting with Tre McBride to add six to the scoreboard.
Coach Moss opted for a 1-point conversion and after being pushed back 5-yards after going offsides the Wildcats we’re still able to convert extending their lead to three; 27-24.
Cornelius just didn’t seem the same in the second half. During this drive he throw another pick giving Reggie Howard his first interception of the season, which put Los Angeles in great scoring position and ready to add to their newly acquired lead.
Josh Johnson did what he wanted to do and add to their lead. Ending the drive he connected with Saeed Blacknall for his second score of the night. The team tried for the 1 extra-point, but once again got pushed back from going offsides this time they could not convert after the fact keeping it a 1-score game with them now up 33-24.
Johnson seemed frustrated after the missed extra-point opportunity, he was shown on the broadcast rushing to the coach phone after the play to share his thoughts with offensive coordinator Norm Chow. He was heard telling Chow he needs to stop arguing over the headset and start calling plays.
"You guys are doing way too much arguing and complaining… Stop it."
Josh Johnson was NOT happy with his OC after scoring his 4th TD of the game 👀
Cornelius and the Vipers came back with a vengeance and something to prove. At one point it looked like Los Angeles had picked them off once more, but it was reversed by the refs. Although they couldn’t secure another touchdown, they did narrow the lead via a successful 25-yard field goal from Andrew Franks, bringing the score to 33-27.
Although Los Angeles couldn’t capitalize on their next drive, their defense came out to save the day after sending the ball back to Tampa Bay. The Wildcats secured a pick-six from a Cornelius fumble adding six more to their lead. Los Angeles opted for a 2-point conversion, successfully, bringing the score to 41-27 in the Wildcats favor.
With this touchdown, the Los Angeles Wildcats become the first team to score 40 points in an XFL game this season.
Tampa Bay knew they had limited time and they used it wisely; The Vipers moved the ball down the field and ended the drive with a Reece Horn touchdown. After successfully converting their 1-point attempt the Vipers brought the game back within six at 41-34.
Los Angeles was unable to convert on their drive, essentially giving Tampa Bay one more chance to tie or take the lead in the game as time was running out. With just over a minute left the Wildcats committed a huge penalty moving the Vipers to the 11-yard line. Unfortunately for Cornelius and the Vipers the Wildcats were able to get one last pick in the end-zone to close out the game.
Los Angeles moves to 2-3, while Tampa Bay goes to 1-4. What did you think of all the week 5 XFL action? What was your favorite game? Let us know down in the comments below or join the conversation on Discord.