Heading into this matchup, both teams were searching for their first win of the season. Orlando had lost to Houston in week one, playing like the worst team in the XFL. Meanwhile, San Antonio blew a 12 point lead in the final minutes to St. Louis, stunned in their season debut.
Not only were the teams trying to win their first game – so were the coaches; as Hines Ward and Terrell Buckley are both in their first gigs as head coaches in the XFL.
Let’s take a look at what happened, as San Antonio dominated from the get go.
San Antonio got the ball first, and had excellent field position thanks to a long return from Fred Brown. After a great third down stop by LB Terrance Plummer, SA went for it – and converted.
Jack Coan looked fantastic early on. He was in a rhythm from the get go, which allowed them to march down the field swiftly. Coan found Deon Yelder in the end zone, who made a phenomenal grab to put the Brahmas up 6-0.
While San Antonio strung together a couple of nice plays on their next possession, penalties killed their drive, and they were forced to punt. It was the same story for Orlando, and we went into the next period with a 6-6 ball game.
To start the second period, San Antonio had the football. A couple of missed opportunities left the team empty handed, and they sent the ball back to Orlando.
Penalties continued to be an issue for the Guardians. Despite Paxton Lynch playing quite well, the offensive line made some crucial mistakes, taking back big gains. Orlando eventually punted, unable to get back into a groove.
The Guardians kept their foot on the gas pedal defensively. Matt Elam had a major pass breakup, and then Mike Lee sacked Jack Coan, and the Brahmas had to punt right back.
Alize Mack played a major role in San Antonio’s next drive. He made a ridiculous one handed catch, and then took off up the sidelines for a big gain. Then, he secured a touchdown on a dart from Jack Coan, putting San Antonio back on top. A successful one point conversion gave the Brahmas a 13-6 lead.
Orlando did what they could with the limited time left on the clock, but missed a field goal as time expired in the half. With two quarters down, San Antonio led 13-6.
The second half kicked off with the Orlando Guardians in possession of the football. Lynch was back at QB, but the team faltered and had to punt quickly.
Jack Coan put together a masterful drive for the Brahmas. After marching the team down the field, he threw a beautiful back shoulder pass to Jalen Tolliver, who hauled it in for the score. Just like that, San Antonio led 20-6.
Jalen Tolliver is a star. This guy continues to make big-time plays for the @XFLBrahmas. He was an outstanding WR for the Vipers in 2020, and now is settling into Hines Ward's system nicely in San Antonio.
Things couldn’t go worse for Orlando on the next drive. Lynch threw a couple of terrible passes, before getting rocked on third down. Then, the punt was blocked, which set the Brahmas up inside the ten yard line.
Jack Hillman ran it in for the Brahmas from one yard out, and the Brahmas led 27-6 after another successful one point attempt.
Orlando brought Francois back in at QB, who got bailed out by penalties. A roughing the punter call gave the team a fresh set of downs. Then, pass interference set up the Guardians inside the five yard line. Heading into the fourth quarter, Orlando was set up nicely.
Interestingly enough, penalties on both sides made this drive take absolutely forever. Every time it seemed like Orlando scored – or, San Antonio got a stop – there was a penalty flag.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Orlando scored. Francois found Cody Latimer, who dove towards the end zone. With under thirteen minutes to go, San Antonio led 27-12.
Orlando was starting to make something happen. The Guardians forced a punt, putting themselves in a position to make a comeback. However, Francois threw a pick to Ranthony Texada, who set up the Brahmas in excellent field position.
The Guardians defense held up, holding San Antonio to a field goal. John Parker Romo knocked it through, and the Brahmas took a 30-12 lead.
Despite having one last chance with the football, Orlando couldn’t get the job done. They turned the ball over on downs, and San Antonio took over. The Brahmas ultimately held on for the win, 30-12 over the Orlando Guardians.
To be quite honest, this was a messy game. The Orlando Guardians looks like the worst team in the XFL, unable to find any sort of rhythm with either quarterback. Their offensive line is a mess, and the team seems to be very discontent with how they stand in the locker room.
Meanwhile, San Antonio showed impressive signs of growth today. The offense was pretty solid, as Jack Coan proved that he is the leader that Hines Ward signed. If they can continue to play like this, the Brahmas will be in good shape in the South.
What are your thoughts after watching this matchup? Which players made the most impact for the San Antonio Brahmas and Orlando Guardians? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!