Heading into this matchup, both teams knew how important this game was. Whoever wins, puts themselves in a position to fight for the second seed in the division.
However, whoever loses would be sent to the bottom of the South. While Arlington is 1-1, and Orlando is 0-2, a Guardians win puts the Renegades to the fourth seed.
Let’s take a look at what happened…
Orlando received the football, and got right to work. Paxton Lynch was given the start by Terrell Buckley again, and looked decent on his opening drive. Orlando settled for a field goal, and Jose Borregales knocked through a 35 yard attempt.
José Borregales gets the @XFLGuardians on the board with a field goal!
Kyle Sloter got his first XFL start, as Bob Stoops replaced Drew Plitt with Sloter for today’s game. Arlington stalled out quickly, though, and had to punt.
The Renegades have a defense that is always ready to pounce on an opportunity. On Orlando’s next drive, Jah-Maine Martin was popped, and lost the football. Donald Payne recovered, and Arlington was back in business.
After getting inside the five yard line, Arlington couldn’t capitalize, and kicked a field goal. Taylor Russolino hit the 21 yarder, and it was tied up at 3 heading into the next period.
Arlington’s defense kept up the same energy to start the second. Will Hill absolutely smoked Paxton Lynch, taking him down for a major sack.
The Renegades looked poised to score, after an excellent march down the field. However, on fourth and one, Orlando’s defense held up. They stuffed De’Veon Smith, forcing a fumble and shutting down Arlington’s drive.
Unfortunately for Orlando, they continued to shoot themselves in the foot. Paxton Lynch looked spectacular, marching the team down the field efficiently. Then, Jah-Maine Martin fumbled again, and Josiah Coatney recovered for Arlington.
The Renegades looked completely flat as an offense, unable to get into a rhythm despite getting some help from referees. They punted again, and we went into halftime with a 3-3 ball game.
While both teams had some success moving the ball between the 20s, neither offense was able to find a way to put points on the scoreboard in the first half.
It wasn’t an ideal start to the third quarter for Arlington. Terrance Plummer lit up Sloter in the backfield, which put them in a hole. The Renegades had to punt quickly, as Orlando’s defense was stifling.
Despite a couple of first downs for Lynch and the Guardians, they stalled out midfield. Orlando punted back, but – who would’ve thought – Arlington had to send it right back to the Guardians.
LB Darnell Sankey had a massive day for the Renegades, making play after play. However, Orlando got into a rhythm offensively. They methodically marched down the field, and were in a position to score heading into the final fifteen minutes.
Orlando jumped in front, thanks to Paxton Lynch. He called his own number, dashing into the endzone from a few yards out. Just like that, the Guardians led 9-3.
After what was a dormant three quarters, Arlington finally put something together. Sloter drove the team effectively, putting them in a position to score. He then threw a strike to Tyler Vaughns, who hauled it in for the touchdown. A successful one point attempt gave the Renegades a 10-9 lead.
On third and long, Orlando’s defense made another stop. They swarmed to the football, and gave their squad one last crack at it.
On 3rd and 13, it looked like the Guardians had some life. Lynch tossed a dime to Lance Lenoir Jr., who made a ridiculous catch to keep the drive alive. However, after further review, it was revealed that he lost possession going to the ground.
It was a heartbreaking ending for Orlando. Lynch threw it down the field to Charleston Rambo, who made an amazing catch down the sidelines – but it was ruled out of bounds. Arlington held on to win a nail-biter, 10-9 at home to improve to 2-1.
This was certainly the ugliest game of the week, so far. Both these teams struggled to find much of a rhythm all day. Defensively, though, these units were on fire. It was a slugfest for most of the afternoon, which was a welcomed shakeup from the offensive-dominant games we saw in the previous two.
With this win, the Arlington Renegades improved to 2-1 on the XFL season, and put themselves in a position to hold the second seed. This defense is sensational, and Bob Stoops should be proud of the effort they put on the field today.
Meanwhile, the Orlando Guardians drop to 0-3, still winless in the XFL. Terrell Buckley’s group did play better today from a general perspective, but it wasn’t enough. Something has to change for this organization, sooner than later.
What are your thoughts on this matchup between the Arlington Renegades and Orlando Guardians? Which XFL players impressed you the most? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!