The XFL has finally returned to a highly successful opening weekend. From competitive games to flying lemons, this opening weekend had it all! Here are the highlights of the weekend.
Arlington Renegades 22, Las Vegas Vipers 20
The league kicked off the weekend with the newly rebranded Arlington edging the Las Vegas Vipers, 22-20. Arlington trailed for most of the game and had to rely on defense to rally back. The Renegades returned two interceptions for touchdowns and thwarted Vegas’ attempt to convert both a late game two point conversion and the “4th and 15,” the XFL version of an onside kick.
Journeyman QB Luis Perez led the Vipers in passing, going 22-for-36 with three touchdowns, but the aforementioned interceptions cost Las Vegas the game. De Vante Bausby, formerly of the AAF’s San Antonio Commanders was the big highlight for the Renegades, as his late pick-six sealed the game for Arlington.
Houston Roughnecks 33, Orlando Guardians 12
In Houston, the Roughnecks dominated Orlando in all stages of the game, overpowering the Guardians in the only one-sided matchup of the weekend. Houston forced four Orlando turnovers. Offensively, the Roughnecks were led by quarterback Brandon Silvers, who went 22-for-46 with two touchdown passes and two interceptions.
Despite scoring first on a controversial touchdown reception, the Guardians could get nothing going offensively. The Guardians’ four turnovers were accompanied by seven sacks surrendered. Orlando also had two drives that ended in a turnover on downs and an additional drive that led to a missed field goal.
St. Louis Battlehawks 18, San Antonio Brahmas 15
Spring football returned to San Antonio for the first time since 2019, and the home crowd did not disappoint. San Antonio saw over 24,000 fans come through the gates, nearly doubling the home attendance of each of the other home teams. The game was very slow paced until the final two minutes, when this happened:
The Brahmas were the only home team to lose on the opening weekend.
DC Defenders 22, Seattle Sea Dragons 18
At Audi Field, the Defenders lived up to the name, using their defense to steal the game away from the Sea Dragons. DC forced three turnovers, including a clutch pick-six from Michael Joseph. The interception was one of two for Joseph.
Seattle looked dominant early on, as quarterback Ben DiNucci found former NFL standout wide receiver Josh Gordon in the end zone on a Patrick Mahomes-esque type play. DiNucci also ran for another TD, but a costly fumble by DiNucci late in the fourth quarter at the goal line ended the game and gave the win to DC.
The turning point in the game came from an unexpected source. As the home crowd constructed the first “Beer Snake” of 2023, it was confiscated by security, causing a very tangible reaction from the fans. Lemons rained down from the stands, prompting some Sea Dragons Players to throw them back into the crowd. The event seemed to fire up the DC defense, as the Defenders used the energy to turn over the Sea Dragons. A quarterback change also factored in to the turnaround, as QB Deriq King came in to spell starter Jordan Ta’amu. King sparked the defender offense, rushing for a key second half touchdown.
Seattle hosts St Louis on Thursday, February, 23rd at 9pm. (ESPN XTRA)
DC travels to Las Vegas on Saturday, February 25th, at 7pm. (FX)
Orlando hosts San Antonio on Sunday, February 26th at 4pm. (ESPN)
Arlington heads to Houston to finish the weekend on Sunday, February 26th, at 7pm. (ESPN 2)