Arlington Renegades Beat Vegas Vipers In XFL 2023 Opener

Arlington Renegades Storm Back vs. Vegas Vipers In XFL Opener

It’s hard to believe that we are finally here. The XFL officially kicked off their season this afternoon, in Texas. It was the Arlington Renegades who hosted the Vegas Vipers in a thrilling showdown to get the season underway.

This was bound to be an exciting matchup, no matter the outcome. The Arlington Renegades are loaded with talent, led by head coach Bob Stoops. Meanwhile, the Vegas Vipers were looking to steal one on the road in Arlington, as Rod Woodson prepped his fiery squad for action.

As expected, it came down to the wire in Arlington. Let’s take a look at what happened in the first game of the 2023 XFL season.

First Quarter

To start things off, the Vipers received the opening kickoff. Vegas looked solid on their opening drive. Luis Perez swiftly led the team down the field, converting on multiple third downs.

On third and goal, Perez found Jeff Badet for a six yard touchdown – the first score of this new XFL. The two-point attempt was unsuccessful, but the Vipers led 6-0 early.

Arlington got things underway with Drew Plitt at the helm. On a third and nine, an incomplete pass was actually overturned due to review, as WR Tyler Vaughns did in fact get his feet down in bounds.

The Renegades clearly have an excellent offense. De’Veon Smith made impact plays on the ground, and WR Brandon Arcondo caught a couple of important passes to keep the drive alive. However, a dropped pass from Sal Cannella led to a Taylor Russolino field goal, and Vegas still led 6-3.

Second Quarter

The second period looked a bit different to start. Arlington’s defense got things going, putting Vegas in a third and long position. Perez got absolutely smoked by Colin Schooler, which forced a punt, and Arlington got the ball back.

However, the Renegades couldn’t get it going on their end, either. Vegas picked up the intensity on the defensive end, ultimately resulting in a punt for the Renegades. On third and four, Josh Hawkins made a huge tackle on De’Andre Torrey, which led to another punt for the Vipers.

Arlington’s offense struggled in the second quarter. Offensive miscues were a staple to begin the period. On a short third down, Plitt fumbled the handoff to Keith Ford. Luckily, the team recovered, but had to punt once again.

Vegas Vipers Strong Opening Half

Luis Perez looked fantastic in the first half. On Vegas’ next drive, Perez dominated. He continued to stay on point with his passes, finding receivers all over the place. Then, he scrambled in the pocket, and found a wide open Jeff Badet for a 39 yard score. After a successful two point try to Brandon Dillon, Vegas led 14-3.

Unfortunately for the Renegades, things weren’t going so smoothly under Plitt. On 4th and 1, Bob Stoops decided to go for it. A huge play in the backfield from the Vipers defense stuffed De’Veon Smith, and Vegas took over with two minutes to go.

Vegas couldn’t get things going on their next drive, and had to punt. Joe Powell gave Arlington excellent field position on the return, with under a minute to go. However, the team couldn’t capitalize. Plitt was picked off by C.J. Avery, for the first turnover in the new XFL.

Arlington did catch a couple of breaks before halftime. An offensive PI call on Badet negated a big gain – and then, Bailey Giffen missed a 48 yard field goal. Heading into halftime, Vegas led 14-3.

Third Quarter

To start the second half, the Renegades received the football. After a decent drive, the signal caller turned the rock over again. Max Roberts stripped Drew Plitt off the ball, and Vegas recovered. Early in the third, Vegas held complete control of the ball game.

That being said, Arlington’s defense made a massive play. Tomasi Laulile picked off Perez, who had pressure right in his face – and took it to the house. Just like that, it was 14-9.

The turnover trend continued. De’Andre Torrey was stripped of the ball by Jamal Carter, who picked it up for Arlington. While the Renegades settled for a field goal, the team had major momentum down only 14-12.

Interestingly enough, it seemed like nothing could go Vegas’ way in the third. The team had to punt – but, Michael Carrizosa pulled the ball back after it was almost blocked. This led to him being tackled before the first down marker, and Arlington took over with excellent field position.

To start the drive, Jordan Smallwood made an unbelievable catch, moving the chains. However, Vegas’ defense held up once again, as Taylor Russolino kicked a field goal. Just like that, Arlington led 15-14.

Vegas simply could not get it going in the second half, and had to punt again. With only one quarter to play, Arlington led 15-14.

Fourth Quarter

The Vipers defense continued to play quite well, albeit the offensive missteps. Arlington marched the ball all the way down the field, even converting on fourth down.

However, the defense got four consecutive stops in the red zone. On fourth and goal, Plitt attempted to pass to Cannella, but was sacked by Vic Beasley – the former NFL pro. With under six minutes to go, the Renegades were clinging to a 15-14 lead.

It couldn’t go any worse for the Vipers offense, though. Luis Perez was picked off by De’Vante Bausby, who took it several yards to the end zone. After a successful PAT by De’Veon Smith, Arlington led 22-14.

Vegas was dead in the water, not even picking up a first down in the second half. They had to punt once again, hoping their defense could make one final stop – and they did.

Ridiculous XFL Ending

LaRon Stokes made a huge tackle on Smith in the backfield, forcing Arlington to punt. With just a minute to go, Vegas had one last shot to make something happen.

It was a wild finish, to say the least. Perez came alive on the final drive, pushing the ball down field quickly. He found Cinque Sweeting on a crossing route, who ended up taking it to the end zone.

The XFL has a unique rule for onside kicks. Teams are allowed to attempt a 4th and 15 conversion from their own 20 yard line. Vegas tried this, but Donald Payne broke up the pass, ending the game.

The Arlington Renegades held on to win a crazy opener at home, 22-20.

Final Thoughts

What a wild way to kick off the XFL season. As expected, this one came down to the wire. We were just one play away from this one heading to over time.

Ultimately, it was the Arlington Renegades who picked up the win over the Vegas Vipers. Their defense was outstanding in the second half, with two pick sixes to secure the victory.

Next week, the Vegas Vipers will host DC. Meanwhile, the Arlington Renegades will travel to Houston to take on the Roughnecks.

Don’t worry, more XFL football is coming your way. The Houston Roughnecks host the Orlando Guardians tonight at 8:30pm ET, on ESPN.

What were your favorite moments from today’s XFL opener? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!