San Antonio Brahmas Narrowly Defeat Houston Roughnecks

San Antonio Brahmas Narrowly Defeat Houston Roughnecks

The Houston Roughnecks are back at home, but that’s not the only return taking place this weekend. The San Antonio Brahmas are very much the remains of the 2023 Roughnecks. The merger between the USFL and XFL saw a bit of a shift when it came to the league combining with two Houston teams.

Wade Phillips and AJ Smith would head to San Antonio, in which they rebuilt the team in their image. The Houston Roughnecks are essentially a repackaged Gamblers from the USFL. Today, may be a homecoming, but the Roughnecks will look to keep their season alive.

There’s another team that will be watching this game closely. The Michigan Panthers can clinch a UFL playoff spot with a Roughnecks loss today.

First Quarter

The San Antonio Brahmas would start the game with possession, giving them a chance to get on the board early.

The team tested their luck on the ground and John Lovett looked good, but couldn’t gain enough yards to move the chains.

Dormady aired it out on the next play, and it was initially ruled incomplete near the endzone. As we’ve seen this entire season, the Roughnecks have had to ability draw the flag. With a fresh set of downs at their disposal they wasted no time moving it down the field.

Just when things were looking good for San Antonio, the Brahmas fumbled it on 1st & Goal with the Roughnecks recovering and giving them their first possession of the afternoon.

Jarrett Guarantano made his return to the team after sustaining an injury earlier in the season. The defense held up their end of the bargain, now it would be time to see if the offense could follow. Unfortunately for him and the team, they stalled out early and had to punt it away.

It didn’t help matter much when the Brahmas had a solid return, giving them the ball near mid-field with 7:56 to go in the first.

Morgan Ellison showed up big for San Antonio with a big run which moved them into the redzone. Lovett took the ball on the next drive and brought them just shy of the 10 and the first down.

In an unfortunate turn of events, history repeated itself when the team fumbled the ball with the Roughnecks defense once again recovering.

Houston has been bit by the injury bug, and this game was no different. But, it was promising the see them holding off the Brahmas from scoring so far. It wouldn’t matter if they weren’t able to put up any points of their own.

Again, the offense just couldn’t find their rhythm, quicky going three and out and punting it away after a big sack.

Second Quarter

The Brahmas would start the second quarter on second down, looking to break the ice and secure the first points of the afternoon. Speedy Stevenson started things out good for the team, moving the team beyond the 50 and grabbing a fresh set of downs.

On the next play Dormady connected with Landen Akers for a huge gain.

San Antonio was back in the redzone, and this time they were hoping to buck the trend. The Brahmas weren’t able to find the endzone, but they didn’t give it away this time. At the end of the drive Coach Phillips opted for three giving them a slim lead.

Houston had the ball again, but they’d be starting all the way at the 10-yard line. They’d need to have some better luck on offense if they were to make it down the field. Anthony Ratliff-Williams came in clutch for Houston. On third and five he was able to move the ball 15-yards to refresh the downs.

The Brahmas defense stepped up their game, again quickly shutting down the Roughnecks and forcing them to punt again. This continued for most of the second quarter. Both teams just couldn’t find enough in the tank to do anything of meaning.

With roughly 3-minutes left in the half Houston started to make some moves. Keke Chism secured the pass from Guarantano to move the ball past the middle, giving them their best field standing of the afternoon.

The Roughnecks would hit the 2-minute warning on third and ten, hoping to convert and secure some points before the half. Houston didn’t do themselves any favors, jumping offsides and pushing them back five. Guarantano was flushed out, and between a holding call and not securing the yards the Roughnecks were once again forced to punt it away.

Dormady came out with some urgency behind him. On the first play he connected with Akers again, pushing them towards mid-field. Unfortunately, Landen Akers went to the injury tent after this play, and it seems as he sustained a concussion. On third down Dormady took a shot down the field to Speedy Stevenson, but could not connect forcing them to punt it away with 1:14 left in the half.

Guarantano took a deep shot down the field and found Justin Hall wide open for a huge gain. The Roughnecks would only have 9-seconds on the clock to work with, but this was the biggest play of the day.

Houston fumbled the ball on the next play, luckily they were able to recover. They called a timeout with 3-seconds left, giving them a shot to tie it up.

JJ Molson came out and knocked it in from 48-yards to make it a 3-3 game going into the half.

Third Quarter

Houston would take possession to start the half, looking to take their first lead. The drive fizzled out quickly, but more concerning is that Guarantano complained of a wrist injury while in the game. He decided to keep playing because he missed so much of the season and didn’t want to mis this opportunity.

Dormady and the Brahmas didn’t have much luck on this drive either. After a few failed connections the Roughnecks defense forced another fumble allowing them to recover.

Guarantano and the Roughnecks now had their best field position of the afternoon and were deadest on taking the lead. They found themselves at first and goal putting them in prime striking distance.

Try as they might, Houston could not find the endzone through the Brahmas defense.

JJ Molson came out for the 31-yard field goal to give the Roughnecks a slim 6-3 lead.

San Antonio now trailed for the first time of the afternoon and they’d want to change that as soon as they could. Their offense was struggling today though and they were forced to punt it after a quick three and out.

Houston looked like they wouldn’t be able to capitalize, but JJ Molson came out and knocked it in from 62-yards out to give them a 6-point lead.

There was still plenty of time to go for San Antonio, but they’d want to start moving the ball a little better. On third and long Dormady aired it out, but it didn’t work out as expected. The roughnecks defense was ready and picked it off, giving them their fourth takeaway of the afternoon.

The team finally handed the ball off to Mark Thompson and he came up huge with a 36-yard run to end the third quarter.

Fourth Quarter

Reid Sinnett is now in for the Roughnecks to start the final quarter. This could be a sign that the wrist injury Guarantano was dealing with is possibly more serious than anticipated.

Even with the change at QB, the team couldn’t get it into the endzone. JJ Molson came back out and went 4/4 on the day from 21-yards.

Kevin Hogan now came in for the Brahmas to hopefully turn their luck around. The change seemed to be going well. Jontre Kirklin also came in to move the chains to move San Antonio to mid-field.

It was Lovett’s turn, where he continued to shine while dancing to keep the ball in bounds.

Hogan and team continued marching the ball down the field, but time was ticking down. The Brahmas were stopped on 4th and short, but a defensive penalty gave San Antonio a fresh set of down at the goal line.

They were finally able to secure their first touchdown of the afternoon after Kevin Hogan handed it off to John Lovett to get in the endzone.

With the game nearing an end the Brahmas opted for a three-point attempt to tie it up. Cody Latimer pulled it in to make it 12-12 with 2:25 to go and the Roughnecks out of timeouts.

The Brahmas were gifted the ball when the Roughnecks fumbled the return. They now had a prime opportunity to close this game out.

Houston couldn’t do much to stop the clock and ultimately the Brahmas were able to run it all the way down to leave up to a 61-yard field goal.

Ryan Santoso came out and got the job done, giving San Antonio the walk off win.

Conclusion

Houston is officially out of the post-season, but their loss is Michigan’s gain. With the Panthers win earlier today and the Showboats loss yesterday they’ve solidified their spot against the Birmingham Stallions. The Brahmas pulled out the win, but they have a little more work today before they punch their ticket. Beyond that, the team will need to work on a few things to stay competitive in the final weeks of the season.

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