Arlington Renegades Top DC Defenders In UFL Thriller

Arlington Renegades Top DC Defenders In UFL Thriller

The DC Defenders and Arlington Renegades are wrapping up their seasons this year playing each other yet again – but the circumstances are different. A season ago, they faced off in the XFL Championship. This time around, they have both been eliminated from postseason contention, and now are playing for bragging rights.

Heading into this game, the Arlington Renegades are coming off an upset win over the Battlehawks, 36-22. Luis Perez has been playing outstanding football, and is hoping to get one more win down the stretch of this season.

Meanwhile, the DC Defenders won their fourth game of the year, toppling the Showboats 36-21 last week. It’s been an up and down campaign for Jordan Ta’amu & Co., but they’re looking to get to the .500 mark as the 2024 door closes.

Let’s take a look at what went down at Audi Field today.

First Quarter

The Arlington Renegades got the football first, and Luis Perez quickly got to work. He pushed the ball down the field, and a big run from De’Veon Smith put them in the red zone. However, two dropped touchdowns resulted in the Renegades settling for a 27 yard field goal from Jonathan Garibay.

DC got off to a fast start, thanks to Chris Rowland. Rowland, who’s been tremendous all year, returned the kick all the way to the Renegades 33 yard line. However, the Defenders went three and out offensively, and Matt McCrane tied things up with a 44 yard field goal.

Paxton Brooks messed up on the kickoff – sending it out of bounds which allowed Arlington to start with the ball on the 50 yard line. However, DC’s defense held strong with some pressure from Andre Mintze, and the Renegades punted it away. It was another three and out for the Defenders, though, and they sent it right back.

Luis Perez has been very efficient with the football this year, only throwing two picks. However, he was intercepted by Gareon Conley on this drive, as he played the route perfectly, giving DC possession.

As the first quarter came to a close, there was a controversial call. It appeared that WR Ty Scott had fumbled, and Arlington recovered. The referees had blown the whistle dead, though, with forward progress – negating the turnover. Arlington did not have the ability to challenge, either, with DC getting to the line to snap a play in a hurry.

Second Quarter

The Renegades would get their defensive stop regardless. On 4th and 1, a handoff to Cam’ron Harris was sniffed out immediately, and Arlington took over on downs.

This proved to be an extremely entertaining second quarter of action. Arlington regained the lead on a 40 yard field goal from Garibay – but on the ensuing kickoff, Chris Rowland took it 84 yards to the house, for the first kick return touchdown of the season.

Arlington would have to punt it away, struggling to find a rhythm on offense. Jordan Ta’amu, on the other hand, was making things happen. He found Vyncint Smith down the sidelines, who somehow evaded tacklers as he waltzed into the end zone – and the Defenders took a 15-6 lead.

Perez always finds a way to get his team back in the thick of things when they need it. Luis strung together a phenomenal drive to close out the half, which was enhanced by an incredible grab from Sal Cannella. A few plays later, Perez threw a dart to Tyler Vaughns for the score – and a successful two point try from Devin Darrington made it a one point affair.

Heading into halftime, the DC Defenders held a 15-14 lead.

Third Quarter

On their opening drive of the second half, DC got some help. Two pass interference penalties kept things moving, and Ta’amu did the rest with his playmaking. From a yard out, Cam’Ron Harris ran it in for the score, and DC took a 21-14 lead.

Arlington responded, putting together an impressive possession. They also had help with a pass interference call, but ended up settling for a short field goal to make it 21-17.

DC had a rather wild play to follow. They pulled off the double forward pass – but not in the way they intended. A tipped ball was caught by Briley Moore, and he unloaded it to Darius Hagans since he was behind the line of scrimmage. Despite the excitement, the Defenders had to punt it away.

With fifteen minutes left to play, Arlington had the football, and were marching.

Fourth Quarter

Tyler Vaughns had an unbelievable drive for Arlington to get back in front. He made a spectacular grab down the sidelines for a first down – and then followed that up by burning his defender for a touchdown. The trickery on the two point try resulted in a Vaughns score as well, and Arlington went up 25-21.

Did you think DC was done with their offensive showing? Think again. Jordan Ta’amu hit Brandon Smith not once – but twice – for touchdowns. The first one was called back due to holding. On 3rd and 16, Ta’amu and Smith recreated their deep success, and the Defenders took a 29-25 lead with a two point conversion.

I’ve never quite seen anything like what Juwan Manigo did on the following kickoff. Manigo touched the football from inside the end zone, while the ball was outside. This was in turn ruled as a safety – giving DC two points and possession back.

Arlington’s defense did get a stop, and the Defenders punted it back to Luis Perez & Co. However, Luis would make another mistake, throwing an interception right to Montae Nicholson, and DC took over.

Once again, Jay Hayes and his defensive unit showed up. DC got into scoring position, but Matt McCrane missed a long field goal, and it gave Arlington excellent field position.

This time, Perez took advantage. He marched the Renegades down the field efficiently, finding Deontay Burnett for a touchdown to tie it up at 31. Then, De’Veon Smith got a massive push for the one point conversion, and Arlington had a one point lead with 2:28 to play.

While DC had another chance at it, Arlington shut the door. On 4th and 4, Ta’amu attempted to scramble for the first down himself, but was stood up immediately by a hoard of Renegades defenders.

De’Veon Smith would pick up the first down, and seal the win for Arlington. The Renegades came away with a thrilling 32-31 win on the road, taking down the DC Defenders just as they did a year ago to end their season.

Standout Playmakers

QB Luis Perez: While it wasn’t a perfect day for Luis, this game felt like an accurate description of the QB he is. Despite a couple of mistakes (2 INT’s), he found a way to get the job done, with three TD’s and 215 yards. If this was his last game in spring football, it was a perfect way to go out.

RB De’Veon Smith: Smith had a vintage performance today, with 20 carries for 96 yards, averaging 4.6 YPC. He was a key piece in this win, and helped put the game away late.

WR Tyler Vaughns: Vaughns had himself a day, with five catches for 84 yards and two touchdowns. Tyler has been one of the go to guys in Arlington’s offense, and proved today why he deserves a legitimate NFL opportunity.

DB Ajene Harris: Harris is one of the most underrated defenders in the UFL. He was on fire today, leading Arlington with seven tackles, and posting two PBU’s. He should no doubt be in consideration for Al

DC Defenders

QB Jordan Ta’amu: Even though he didn’t get the win, Ta’amu played one of his cleanest games of the season today. He completed 53% of his passes for 218 yards and two touchdowns, with no turnovers. Disappointingly, he made a poor decision on that final offensive play, leading to the loss.

WR Chris Rowland: Rowland is an absolute star, with 316 All-Purpose yards today. His 84 yard return was unreal, but he was doing those sorts of things all day long. He also had a receiving touchdown called back due to being ruled down just before the goal line.

DB Gareon Conley: Conley proved today why he does belong in an NFL camp this summer. He led the Defenders with seven tackles, adding a TFL, an interception, and two PBU’s to his stat sheet today. One has to wonder what this secondary would look like if he was healthy all year long.

Post-Game Comments

Renegades’ HC Bob Stoops gave his thoughts on this final win for Arlington this year:

“I think Reggie does an awesome job, and I really appreciate him as a head coach. His team played a heck of a game. Fortunately, we made some plays down the stretch and were able to win it. Like the story of our year, we’ve been on the other side of things in the fourth quarter. This time, our defense was absolutely incredible in the fourth quarter,and we were able to win it. Our offense put together that last drive. Proud of this team…we’re all here working together. Our players love the game, you don’t have to convince them to play. They also have a lot of pride individually. We’ve played a lot of good football throughout the year, and fortunately were on the good side this week.”

Defenders’ HC Reggie Barlow commented on this close loss, and looked ahead to next season:

“It was good to be back at Audi Field today. Nice day out. We appreciate our fans for supporting us all year. They’ve been the standard. This game was a hard fought one. We felt like we had a lot of opportunities to win it, but penalties killed us. There were things that happened that kept us from winning. I’m proud of our guys for fighting, and staying in it, and proud of our coaches. We’ll look to run it back next year.”

Final Thoughts

It was a fitting end to the year for both of these teams. The Arlington Renegades found a way to win late, and also surged with a two game win streak to close out the year – just like they did in 2023. Luis Perez looked like the best quarterback in the UFL for large chunks of 2024, and had a fantastic performance to close out this one.

Meanwhile, the DC Defenders fall just short in their season finale. They’ve had a tough time all year playing consistently from week to week, and unfortunately couldn’t string together two wins in a row throughout the entire season.

This offseason should feature quite a bit of “soul searching” for both of these organizations. With Arlington at 3-7, and DC at 4-6, they’ll look to rebuild their rosters to make a playoff run once again in 2025.

Week ten of the UFL will conclude tonight, with the “Tank Bowl” between the Memphis Showboats and Houston Roughnecks at 7pm ET on FOX.

What are your thoughts on this UFL matchup between the DC Defenders and Arlington Renegades? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!