Houston Roughnecks Top Arlington Renegades to Secure First Win

Houston Roughnecks Top Arlington Renegades to Secure First Win

The Houston Roughnecks and Arlington Renegades played the final matchup of week four on Sunday at Rice Stadium. Both teams are looking for their first win of the season with the loser falling to 0-4, the last remaining winless team in the league. Houston is home for the second time this season and they’re coming off a 34-20 loss at Ford Field to the Panthers. The Roughnecks have struggled with consistency and discipline all year, constantly shooting themselves in the foot. Arlington has lost two straight heartbreakers, including a tough 29-28 defeat to DC at home, and could very easily have one or two more wins on their resume. The Renegades’ offense has been great all year, led by quarterback Luis Perez, but their defense has been porous. Let’s look at how the game went down and who is still clinging onto their playoff hopes.

Game Summary

The Renegades started the game with the ball. After a quick first down to start the drive, they were forced to punt. On the ensuing punt return, Roughnecks’ wide receiver Isiah Hennie fumbled and set up Arlington with terrific field position. The Houston defense was able to hold, and Renegades’ kicker Jonathan Garibay nailed a 31-yard field goal to make it 3-0 with 10:37 left in the first quarter.

After three straight three-and-outs following the field goal, the Roughnecks’ defense made a big play. Luis Perez went deep down field and was intercepted by cornerback Kiondre Thomas, who returned the ball into Arlington territory. It was his first game with the team this year, and he already made his presence felt. The turnover set up the Houston offense in great position to put up some points heading into the second quarter.

Running back Mark Thompson helped convert a fourth down to start the second quarter and set up Houston with a goal-to-go situation. Unfortunately for the Roughnecks, two straight passes were batted down by the Renegades’ defensive line, and they settled for a field goal. Kicker JJ Molson nailed a 25-yarder and tied the score at 3-3 with 12:38 left in the first half. It was a nine-play, 33-yard drive that took just over four minutes off the clock.

Following a fourth down stop by Kiondre Thomas and the Roughnecks’ defense, quarterback Reid Sinnett and his offense took advantage. Sinnett hit wide receiver Cyril Grayson for a 45-yard dime down field as they marched into the Renegades’ redzone. A few plays later on a third-and-goal, Sinnett hit wide receiver Emmanuel Butler for a three-yard touchdown pass on a slant. Tight end Braedon Bowman hauled in the two-point conversion from Sinnett and gave Houston an 11-3 lead with 3:38 left in the first half. The drive went 64 yards in five plays and took just under three minutes.

The score remained the same heading into the second half and the Roughnecks received the opening kickoff. Their offense continued playing with the same flow they had in the first half, adding to their lead. A rhythmic and consistent drive ended with a 10-yard touchdown by running back Mark Thompson. The PAT was no good, so the score held at 17-3 with 8:23 left in the third quarter. The drive took six and a half minutes and went 70 yards in 11 plays. Houston’s largest lead of the year.

 

The Renegades looked to answer on their following drive and did just that. A long catch and run by running back Leddie Brown, with a roughing the passer penalty tacked on, set up Arlington inside the Roughnecks’ redzone quickly. Wide receiver Deontay Burnett caught a 10-yard touchdown pass two plays later from Perez that made the score 17-9 with 5:04 left in the third quarter. The two-point conversion attempt was no good, so it remained an eight-point split. The drive took just over three minutes and went 56 yards in six plays.

After nearly fifteen minutes of scoreless ball, Arlington had one final chance to go 98 yards down the field to tie the game with just over two minutes left. With time ticking away on the drive, Roughnecks’ defensive end Chris Odom forced a Luis Perez fumble that was recovered by Houston. The Roughnecks held on to win 17-9, getting to 1-3 on the season. Arlington remains winless and drops to 0-4 nearing the half-way point of the year.

Standout Playmakers

QB Reid Sinnett: Making his second consecutive start, Sinnett looked good again for this Houston offense. He was 18/28 (64%) for 191 yards and a touchdown. He added another nine on the ground for 200 total yards. Sinnett looked poised and helped move the ball well yet again for this offense. He has undoubtedly earned the starting job in Houston for the foreseeable future. His next big test comes in six days against Birmingham’s stout defense.

RB Mark Thompson: It’s probably not a coincidence that Houston wins their first game of the year in Thompson’s first game back from injury. Despite only having 39 total yards, Thompson scored a touchdown, per usual, and added power into their run game. He had limited snaps with the team easing him back from his knee injury, but we should expect more volume out of him going forward.

WR Cyril Grayson: Grayson had five catches for 40 yards coming into today’s game. He finished with 62 yards on three catches today, including a 44 yarder. Grayson displayed his well-known track speed that landed him with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay. Grayson adds a deep threat to a team that already has good short/intermediate threats with receivers like Justin Hall and Isiah Hennie.

DE Ethan Westbrooks: Westbrooks continues to impress along a Houston D-Line that is loaded with talent. He finished the day with a sack and three total tackles. He leads the team with 3.5 on the season and has been good against the run and pass. With defensive tackle Toby Johnson out this week, Westbrooks held down the fort.

CB Kiondre Thomas: Thomas was activated off the suspended list this week and showed up big. He finished with three tackles, one of which was a huge fourth down stop, and an interception off Perez. He also took the ball back 52 yards on the return which led to a field goal. He had sticky coverage all day and looked like CB1 for Houston.

Arlington Renegades

 QB Luis Perez: Perez had one of his worst games of the season on Sunday, but it wasn’t all on him. He went 15/28 (54%) for 144 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also lost a fumble on Arlington’s final play and missed a few receivers. But he made some nice throws in tight coverage and was under pressure all afternoon. He’ll look to right the ship next week against the San Antonio Brahmas.

WR Deontay Burnett: Burnett had four catches for 58 yards and a touchdown, his first on the year. In a game where Tyler Vaughns couldn’t get going, Burnett stepped up. He nearly matched his season-long yardage total in the game and can be a great third option behind Vaughns and tight end Sal Cannella.

DT Jalen Redmond: Redmond had two sacks and three total tackles on Sunday. He brought his season total for sacks up to 4.5 and was disruptive all afternoon for Arlington. He’s fourth on the team in tackles and will need to continue to be productive if the Renegades’ defense hopes to turn this season around.

WR/KR/PR Juwan Manigo: Manigo wears many hats and has been great returning the ball all year. He did much of the same against Houston on Sunday. He returned five punts for 81 yards (16.2 average), and four kicks for 83 yards (20.8 average). In total, he averaged 18.2 yards per return and would’ve had even better numbers if it weren’t for multiple costly special teams’ penalties. He plays at a gear very few others in the UFL can hit and constantly pops off the screen with his burst.

Key Factors

For Houston, they got a huge part of their offense back with the return of Mark Thompson in the backfield and it showed. He had a modest game, but his debut took a lot of weight off Reid Sinnett’s shoulders. The Roughnecks ran for 76 yards, the most they have in a game all season. Despite being a seemingly pedestrian number, it allowed for balance, and for the offense to stay on schedule.

The Houston defense also recovered this week after giving up a season-high 34 points last week to the Panthers, a Michigan team that’s scored 40 points in their three other games. They held Arlington under 200 yards of total offense and forced two key turnovers. The Renegades averaged 22 points per game coming into Sunday and Houston held them to nine. This is the defense many of us expected to see prior to the season.

The Renegade offense had their worst output of the season. Their running woes continued, and they only mustered 40 yards on the ground. At 2.2 yards per carry, they were constantly behind schedule and forced into third-and-long situations. Despite being gifted great field position on several occasions, they rarely capitalized. If this offense doesn’t pick it back up, wins will become increasingly difficult to come by.

All things considered the Renegades defense played a good game compared to their standards. They were decent against the run and didn’t get shredded through the air like they had in previous weeks. Their biggest issue was giving up touchdowns in two of Houston’s three redzone attempts. With their offense struggling today, their only chance would’ve been to force more field goals in those instances.

Final Thoughts

The Roughnecks get a much needed win at home and will be at Rice Stadium again next Saturday to face the Birmingham Stallions. Houston could not afford to drop to 0-4 going against the 4-0 back-to-back champs. If the defense plays how we expect and the offense can continue to improve each week, Houston has a good shot to make a second half run in the USFL conference.

For the Renegades, their playoff hopes are starting to drift away. The San Antonio Brahmas and St. Louis Battlehawks are atop the XFL conference at 3-1 with DC in third at 2-2. Arlington hosts the Brahmas on Saturday, and they’ll need to start their playoff push now. A record of 0-5 will effectively eliminate any chance of a repeat.

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