ARLINGTON, Texas — In a game of stops and starts, the Saint Louis BattleHawks pulled off an upset against the favored Dallas Renegades. The much anticipated Renegades quarterback Landry Jones sat out the first week of the season with a knee injury, leaving head coach Bob Stoops to start backup Philip Nelson.
The game was the most defense-heavy of this weekend, with both teams recording multiple sacks (Saint Louis with 4, Dallas with 2). Bob Stoops and the Dallas offense couldn’t come up with an answer to capable dual-threat quarterback Jordan Ta’amu who threw for 209 yards and rushed for 77 yards. Ta’amu’s effort was aided by running back Matt Jones who rushed 21 times for 85 yards.
The game began sluggishly, neither team scoring in the first quarter. After a great throw to convert on 4th and 3, Dallas was forced to settle for a 36 yard field goal by kicker Austin MacGinnis with 9:46 remaining in the first half.
Overcoming a number of costly penalties in the first half, Saint Louis managed to score on a 16 yard touchdown run by running back Keith Ford.
Renegades answered with another field goal, this time from 42 yards, to tie the game with three seconds left in the half.
The second half was a similar story of offensive woes, with both teams making plays but struggling to find consistency moving the ball. Dallas was completely shut out of the end zone, but MacGinnis made his third field goal of the night from 23 yards to take the 9-6 lead with under six minutes left in the third quarter.
After a breakaway run for 37 yards, Ta’amu threw a 9 yard strike to WR Alonzo Russell for the Saint Louis touchdown, though the ensuing PAT was unsuccessful. The momentum shift ignited the BattleHawks’ defense, which held Dallas scoreless for the final 15 minutes of play.
Renegades quarterback Philip Nelson was unable to complete deep passes, throwing both attempts well beyond his intended receivers. After a long clock burning drive by the BattleHawks, capped by a 48 yard field goal, Nelson threw his only interception of the game. The recovery by safety Will Hill secured the game for Saint Louis, who ended their franchise’s first game on a knee, with a score of 15-9.
The BattleHawks were able to upset the home favorite Renegades and made their mark as the only visiting team to win during the XFL’s inaugural weekend. Saint Louis will look to carry this momentum into their matchup with the Houston Roughnecks next Sunday at 6:00PM EST in TDECU Stadium. Meanwhile the Dallas Renegades should look like a very different team with the expected return of starting QB Landry Jones when they travel to Los Angeles to take on the Wildcats in Dignity Health Sports Park next Sunday at 3:00PM EST.