DC Defenders Edge Out Houston Roughnecks In Home Opener

DC Defenders Edge Out Houston Roughnecks In Home Opener

Washington D.C. – Week two of the UFL season came to a close at Audi Field on Sunday evening, as the Houston Roughnecks visited the DC Defenders.

The Defenders entered Sunday’s game against the Roughnecks undefeated at Audi Field, a record spanning back from XFL 2020.

First Quarter

The Roughnecks began with possession and DC’s defense halted them quickly with a three and out on the opening drive. Following the quick stop, DC’s special teams unit showed up in a major way to start, blocking Hunter Niswander’s punt and placing DC’s offense in the red zone.

The Defenders luck would run out quickly though, as Houston’s defense came up with a crucial interception courtesy of CB Corn Elder, who returned the interception for six points to open up the scoring.

After a few stalling drives by each team, the Defenders took back possession and began hitting their stride on offense. DC truly started to get going once the RPO offense came alive with a Ta’amu to Keke Coutee connection for 18 yards into enemy territory. RB Darius Hagans capped off the drive with a one-yard rushing touchdown to tie the game. Hagans replaced Pooka Williams in DC’s week two lineup, likely due to the non-existent run-game last week at San Antonio.

RB Cam’Ron Harris left briefly with an injury during the drive, but was later cleared to return.

Second Quarter

Defenders QB Jordan Ta’amu struggled with accuracy in the first half. Ta’amu was under a fair amount of Houston pressure, especially against ILB Reuben Foster who had a tremendous second consecutive week to kickoff the UFL season. Foster left momentarily with an injury, but finished with six total tackles (2 TFL), along with two pass breakups. Leading the team in tackles for another week to start the 2024 campaign.

The Roughnecks’ momentum continued to stride throughout the first half, practically shutting down the Defenders offense until Ta’amu found TE Briley Moore on this jaw-dropping touchdown reception.

The highlight-reel play earned Moore SportsCenter’s top play of the day on ESPN.

The Roughnecks drove down quickly with a JJ Molson FG to tie the game, 12-12 heading into halftime.

Halftime Thoughts

Third Quarter

Reid Sinnett’s direct influence on the Roughnecks offense became apparent in their opening scoring drive to start the second half. Houston’s offense drove down the field with ease against DC’s defense, finishing with a 34-yard connection to WR Keke Chism for Sinnett’s first passing touchdown of the season.

Former NFL first round picks, cornerbacks Gareon Conley and Deandre Baker, showed the football world that they have plenty left in the tank on Sunday. Baker made his introduction to DC with a come-from-behind forced fumble to give DC the ball back late in the third quarter. With Ferrod Gardner on the recovery.

Baker’s touchdown saving play without an ounce of doubt was the difference of 1-1 or 0-2 for DC.

Fourth Quarter

Deandre Baker’s turnover momentum without a doubt carried into the fourth quarter for DC, turning the turnover into points on the following offensive drive with a Mathew McCrane FG. The Defenders defense stopped Houston again on the next possession, earning the ball back and making magic happen with a 17-yard connection from Ta’amu to WR Ty Scott for a much-needed touchdown. Giving DC their first lead of the game. Scott led the UFL in receiving yards last week, and his fortune continued this week.

Ta’amu followed his picture perfect pass to Scott with another gorgeous lofted throw to TE Alex Ellis for the 2pt conversion.

The Defenders crowd at Audi was alive and buzzing, as DC led 23-18 with just under six minutes left.

Houston would regain possession, but was unable to do anything with it as time expired and DC captured their first win of 2024. Moving to 10-0 all time at Audi Field.

Did you watch this game between the DC Defenders and Houston Roughnecks? Which UFL players impressed you today? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!