HOUSTON – P.J. Walker got off to a hot start in Houston early on Saturday. Though they trailed much of the first half, the Roughnecks defense shutout the Wildcats in the second half.
On just the third play of the game, a 50 yard touchdown pass from Walker to WR Cam Phillips put the first points on the board for Houston, though the PAT attempt was unsuccessful.
Los Angeles WR Nelson Spruce helped the Wildcats answer with an impressive one handed catch. Los Angeles finished the drive with a touchdown and proceeded to convert a 2-point conversion, taking an 8 to 6 lead.
Wildcats quarterback Chad Kanoff looked good early as they charged down the field on their first drive. As the game went on, he began to struggle to complete passes, going only 21 for 40 attempts and throwing an interception. At one point Kanoff was seen on the sideline, arguing with head coach Winston Moss.
It was a frustrating game for the Wildcats, who struggled with communications and penalties. Their inability to communicate was perhaps most obvious when the Wildcats Special Teams unit failed to snap a field goal attempt before the clock expired in the second quarter. The lone offensive bright spot for Los Angeles was WR Nelson Spruce who finished the game with 11 receptions for 103 yards.
After battling much of the first half, P.J. Walker led his Roughnecks to take a one point lead going into half time with a 39 yard touchdown throw to WR Sam Mobley.
The momentum was clearly in Houston’s favor out of halftime, as the Roughnecks forced an early 3 and out from the Wildcats. Following the punt, Walker continued to make great decisions when throwing down the field. The 24-year-old signal caller created enough time out of a slippery 15-yard scramble to launch a 30 yard missile to WR Nick Holley, setting up a short touchdown pass to Kahlil Lewis. Walker finished the drive by running in the 2-point conversion, firmly extending Houston’s lead to 26-17.
The fourth quarter gave Roughnecks K Sergio Castillo show off his leg with a 44 yard field goal, further widening the point spread. Wildcats head coach Winston Moss elected to put in third string QB Jalan McClendon, who threw an interception during his first drive. The interception gave the Roughnecks favorable field position with 12:46 left in the fourth quarter, and insurmountable momentum. Houston RB James Butler powered into the end zone for his second touchdown of the night. Another 2-point conversion brought the Roughnecks to a 20 point lead, where they ended the night. The Roughnecks, led by P.J. Walker, showed great poise and execution in front of a home crowd of 17,815, in their 37-17 win over the Los Angeles Wildcats.
P.J. Walker’s contributions cannot be understated. He threw combined 272 passing yards with 26 rushing yards to finish the game just two yards shy of 300 all-purpose yards. Additionally, he threw four touchdowns against just one interception.
The Houston defense made a similarly valuable impact, keeping the Wildcats out of the end zone and the uprights throughout the second half. Deatrick Nichols head-turning interception late in the game helped stifle any Wildcat comeback hopes, sealing the win for Houston.
The Roughnecks will look to improve on the win when they host the St. Louis Battlehawks next Sunday at 6:00PM EST in TDECU Stadium. The Wildcats meanwhile will hope to return first string QB Josh Johnson to active duty, before their matchup with the Dallas Renegades Sunday at 3:00PM EST.