Arlington Renegades Take Down St. Louis Battlehawks At Home

Arlington Renegades Take Down St. Louis Battlehawks At Home

Despite already clinching a spot in the playoffs, with home field advantage still to be determined for the XFL Conference Championship, the St. Louis Battlehawks were faced with the critical need for a win. For the 1-7 Arlington Renegades, the only thing to be won at this stage was bragging rights.

With the Renegades’ 2023 championship rings finally ready to be distributed and their ceremony held, the mood in Arlington nevertheless felt grim—especially reflected in how empty Choctaw Stadium felt.

 

It’s impossible to call Arlington’s 2024 campaign anything other than a stark failure. However, even though the Renegades as a team had nothing to play for, the same couldn’t be said as the players as individuals. The UFL is a league of opportunity, and NFL teams are on the constant lookout for new talent to pick up, regardless of whether they’re coming from a team that’s 7-1 or 1-7. The Renegades squad went above and beyond proving that despite their record, they’re still a formidable opponent and a solid team.

Quarter 1

The first quarter was the quarter of fumbles, with three being committed in quick succession. The first two were recovered by the offense, but the third, committed by Battlehawks receiver Blake Jackson, was recovered by the Renegades. This was the first of several offensive mistakes that would plague the Battlehawks throughout the game.

Arlington seized their newfound opportunity, scoring immediately on a perfectly executed trick play. After a handoff by Renegades quarterback Luis Perez to De’veon Smith, a toss by Smith to Deontay Burnett, and a toss by Burnett back to Perez, the XFL Championship MVP found Sal Cannella wide open downfield for an easy touchdown. A successful two-point conversion would make the score 8-0.

Quarter 2

Despite driving up all the way to the goal line, the Battlehawks were unable to find the endzone and were forced to opt for a field goal. This was quickly nullified, however, by a Renegades field goal the next drive. The score was 11-3 Arlington.

St. Louis needed to bounce back, and running back Jacob Saylors was happy to oblige. In the Battlehawks’ next drive, Saylors was given the ball on all three plays, recording 50 yards and ultimately a touchdown. The two-point attempt, however, was unsuccessful, keeping the game 11-9.

The last four minutes of the half saw both sides exchange touchdowns. The Renegades snagged another six on a superb grab by Isiah Winstead. The subsequent two-point attempt was successful, making it a 19-9 ballgame.

The Battlehawks on their end snuck through to the endzone in the final seconds of the half on fourth in goal to bring the score within four. Just as he did against the Defenders in Week 8, Manny Wilkins dazzled throughout the game with his feet. Unfortunately for St. Louis, their two-point attempt went unsuccessful once again, keeping the score 19-15 going into the half.

Quarter 3

Receiving the ball to start the half, St. Louis drove deep into the redzone on a 40-yard bomb to Steven Mitchell. Manny Wilkins proceeded to dodge multiple defenders, scrambling up the left side for a Battlehawks touchdown.

Though the one-point attempt was unsuccessful, the Battlehawks now led 19-21.

This lead would be short lived, however, as the Battlehawks defense was unable to stop some great efforts by the Renegades on both 3rd and 10 and 4th and 1.

The drive culminated in a short pass to Seth Green to give him both his first touchdown of the season, and the Renegades the lead back. Another pass to Green on the two-point attempt brought the score to 27-21.

Quarter 4

The normally resilient Battlehawks offense was unable to strike back, and the Renegades made them pay with a field goal to bump the deficit up to nine. With the score 30-21, it was still a one score game, but the pressure was starting to be felt.

The next drive for each team proved uneventful, but with the ball back and 6:18 to play, the Battlehawks started to drive once more. Saylors and Wilkins were gaining ground with their feat, and a catch by Jake Sutherland on 4th and 1 kept the Battlehawks’ hopes well alive.

Just when the Battlehawks were looking to pierce the redzone, however, the Renegades struck on a critical interception by Steven Jones. In spite of this setback, St. Louis still had a pair of timeouts, keeping them in the game if just barely hanging out.

Thanks to a great defensive stop, in less than a minute, the ball was in St. Louis’ hands once more. In a moment showcasing the beautiful volatility of football, however, it would be Arlington celebrating just seconds later on a pick six by the former Battlehawk Joe Powell.

The St. Louis Battlehawks would score again, but it would bizarrely be on a pick one. You heard that right, a pick one.

Going for a one-point conversion, Perez’s pass was intercepted in the endzone and ran back the full 100 yards to bring the Battlehawks within 14. The score was then 36-22.

It wouldn’t matter as Manny Wilkins threw his third interception in his last four passes to seal the game.

Final Thoughts

In spite of losing to a formerly 1-7 team, I don’t think this loss warrants much panic from St. Louis Battlehawks fans. Manny Wilkins played perfectly acceptably until the waning minutes of the game when the pressure was on for quick results. Unless something goes drastically wrong in the upcoming week, he won’t even be the starter in Week 10, with A.J. McCarron set to return.

Though the defense surrendered a lot of points, it was against an Arlington Renegades offense that’s honestly flown under the radar all season. It helps to remember that the Battlehawks squeaked by against Arlington in Week 2 with a last-second field goal. If anyone in St. Louis is going to hit the panic button, it should be after Week 10, when the Battlehawks face their playoff adversary in the San Antonio Brahmas. I fully expect, however, that the Battlehawks will come back in full force, and even if they don’t win, will put on another excellent showing.

Though this takes the Arlington Renegades from being eliminated to, well… being eliminated, it was definitely a feel-good moment for a team that’s faced a lot of hardship this season. Luis Perez has put up a number of great performances this year, and unfortunately, they haven’t led to a lot of wins.

Even if he can’t defend his title this year, hopefully games like this will help show the world that he’s truly an NFL caliber QB.

What are your thoughts on this game between the Arlington Renegades and St. Louis Battlehawks? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!

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