A Restart to a New Era

DC Defenders St. Louis BattleHawks

WASHINGTON — Because of a poor decision or a ridiculous play, the DC Defenders starting quarterback Cardale Jones was benched, putting the Defenders’ season on the broad shoulders of backup Tyree Jackson as they defeated the St. Louis BattleHawks 16-6.

Standing 6-foot-7 and 250-pound, Jackson took over when Jones was picked off by St. Louis safety Kenny Robinson with 8:37 remaining in the first quarter; Jones’ seventh interception of the year.

Jackson led a five-play, 45-yard drive finishing with a nine-yard laser to Bowie State standout, tight end Khari Lee for the touchdown, giving the Defenders a 6-3 lead with 1:02 remaining in the first quarter.

Avoiding mistakes is what kept Jackson in the game; however, his passing attack was not breaking records, finishing 9-of-14 for only 39 yards, and one touchdown. Nothing new to DC sports fans, but there is now controversy at the quarterback position in the nation’s capital.

Luckily for the Defenders, competent quarterback play was not needed for a win. The offense modified its game plan, leaning on a rushing attack that collected 229 yards, averaging 5.6 yards-per-rush.

The jet sweep was added to the repertoire of run plays as De’Andre Thompkins and Eli Rogers collectively gained 53 yards on three carries, 51 more yards than the duo gained receiving.

The Defenders may have found its stride in Jhurell Pressley as the leader of the ground. BattleHawk defenders failed to corral Pressley as he was able to extend a minimum gain into a 27-yard gain, with 5:40 remaining in the third quarter, contributing to his 107 yards on 15 carries.

On defense, the Defenders were bent but did not break. The BattleHawks offense outgained the Defenders 319-to-256 in total yards, but the DC defense was able to somewhat contain BattleHawks quarterback Jordan Ta’amu.

BattleHawks wide receiver L’Damian Washington blew up averaging almost 23 yards-per-catch totaling 114 yards but did not find the endzone.

Last week’s XFL Player of the Week was smothered, covered, and chunked by an awakened Defenders front line. Ta’amu was limited to 174 yards passing as four different Defenders sacked Ta’amu.

The St. Louis running game kept the game competitive, amassing 174 yards averaging 5.2 yards-per-carry, 139 from reliable backs Matt Jones and Christine Michael.

After two 60-yard drives, The Defenders defense forced two four-and-outs on the Battlehawks, sealing the game as Tracy Sprinkle and Siupeli Anau brought down the 6-foot-3, 231 pound Jones on fourth-and-one, with two minutes remaining in the fourth.

Sandwiched between was Defenders linebackers Jameer Thruman blocking a punt and Jonathan Celestin recovering the ball at 5:37 remaining in the fouth.

The BattleHawks defense did not relent, limiting Jackson to average less than three-yards-per-completion. The Defenders were held to three field goals for the remainder of the game.

The Defenders and BattleHawks now have the same record (3-2) and are on top of the division. The head-to-head win gives DC the edge in the division standings so they are once again the team to beat.

Some serious questions need to be answered over at Audi Field as the Defenders look ahead to the new #DallasWeek, hosting the Dallas Renegades Sunday.

Published by Charles Nyonga

A multiplatform journalism major at the University of Maryland. Previously, I graduated from Prince George's Community College in 2018.

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