DC Defenders Clinch XFL North In Front Of Sold Out Crowd Over Arlington Renegades

DC Defenders Clinch XFL North In Front Of Sold Out Crowd

The DC Defenders punched their ticket to a home playoff game in the XFL. Their win over the Arlington Renegades resulted in DC being the sole owner of first place in the North.

In this piece, let’s take a look at what happened in the game, and what this means for the Defenders moving forward.

First Quarter

Arlington received the ball first in this game, on a kick that rolled into the end zone for a touchback and drew a big boo from the crowd.

Arlington began the drive with a few big chunk plays, using both the pass and run effectively. The drive ended in a 4th down penalty on Arlington on DC’s one yard line, forcing the FG to make it a 3-0 Renegades lead.

DC quickly answered on offense with a quick, lethal drive by QB Jordan Ta’amu, who was 4/4 on the opening drive. Josh Hammond reeled in the nine yard touchdown, and after the missed 2pt conversion DC led 6-3.

DC was bailed out on the closing drive of the first quarter, after Renegades kicker Taylor Russolino missed a 44 yard field goal.

Second Quarter

DC’s undisciplined play continued in the second quarter, with a plethora of penalties on all three phases.

The Defenders were able to grab momentum with just under ten minutes remaining in the half, after a Brandon Smith catch was reversed. Ta’amu found Lucky Jackson in the end zone for a 14 yard touchdown on the fade route.

Arlington quickly answered with a strike of their own, with Caleb Vander Esch finding the end zone on a play that included poor tackling from DC.

DC later extended the lead with an eleven play drive that consisted of only D’Eriq King at QB. The drive ended with a second Lucky Jackson touchdown of the day, after King extended the play and found a diving Jackson for six.

Third Quarter

In only his second game of the season, safety DJ Swearinger welcomed himself back to DC with a pick six off of Luis Perez to start the second half. Swearinger brought the energy throughout the week at practice too, and it showed.

The Defenders next offensive possession seemed poised for a end zone trip, but Renegades safety Joe Powell made an impressive diving interception and would have been end zone bound if the play was not called back for an illegal block.

Fourth Quarter

Arlington started the fourth quarter in the red zone, and took advantage of a roughing the passer penalty on third and goal with a De’Veon Smith rushing touchdown.

After D’Eriq King threw his first interception of the game, Arlington was able to find a way to get back into it.

The final several minutes of this game were wild, to say the least. The Defenders did everything they could to let Arlington back in the game, which they did.

De’Veon Smith scored another touchdown, opening a door for a late comeback. The two point conversion was secured, meaning it was a two point game. Then, Luis Perez stunned the world by floating a pass to Sal Cannella on the 4th and 15 attempt, which was successful.

With just several seconds left, Taylor Russolino connected on a short field goal, and the Renegades sent the game to OverTime – after trailing by 17 points in the quarter.

Over Time

The Defenders finally figured things out in OT. After the first couple of two point attempts were no good, Ta’amu connected with Josh Hammonds to put DC on top.

Then, the Renegades were unable to convert on their final try of the overtime period, as DC’s defense held strong. The final score: DC Defenders 28; Arlington Renegades 26.

Standout Players

Jordan Ta’amu was outstanding once again for DC. He’s shown so much growth this season, and continues to be a staple of Reggie Barlow’s offense.

He finished the game with almost 200 passing yards, tossing two touchdowns. His favorite target this week was Lucky Jackson, who’s bloomed into a valuable piece for DC.

DJ Swearinger is proving to be a fantastic pickup. As if the Defenders weren’t stacked enough, DJ adds a veteran presence on the defense, showcasing his traits as a leader right off the bat.

His pick six on Perez nearly put the game away – and, if it weren’t for his score, there’s a good chance Arlington would have won this one. As DC hits the playoff push, expect Swearinger to continue to play an important role in securing a Championship.

Final Thoughts

How much fun is that football in The District? It was a sold out crowd on Sunday afternoon, with Audi Field rocking with over 18,000 fans in attendance.

The good news: we get one more game in DC. Due to their win over Arlington, the Defenders will host the North Division Championship on April 30th. That game will kick off at 3pm ET, on ESPN.

With the final North playoff spot still up for grabs, that means they will face either Seattle or St. Louis during that game. Considering DC is 4-0 on the season against those two teams, fans should feel confident heading into the postseason.

The DC Defenders will close out their season this weekend, with a matchup against the San Antonio Brahmas.

What are your thoughts on the DC Defenders clinching the XFL North? Will they win the XFL Championship? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!