Heading into this game, both teams sat in the second seed in their respective divisions, with a 2-1 record. Anthony Becht’s Battlehawks have been on a roll, boosted by solid play from AJ McCarron. Meanwhile, Bob Stoops’ Renegades made the switch to Kyle Sloter at QB, which elevated the offensive performance last week.
Let’s take a look at what went down in the dome, as it was an exciting game from the get go.
Arlington got the ball first, and began to move the ball. However, on 4th and 2, St. Louis’ defense absolutely smothered De’Veon Smith, resulting in a turnover on downs.
RB Brian Hill being back in the lineup was great news for the Battlehawks. He had a couple of excellent runs on their opening drive, putting them in a position to score. Donny Hageman knocked through the 28 yarder, and St. Louis took a 3-0 lead.
Both defenses took turns generating fantastic stops. Arlington punted, and it seemed like St. Louis would get another score – but Hill was swarmed in the backfield, which led to a punt. The Renegades held possession of the ball, as we went into the next period with a 3-0 score.
While Arlington began to push the ball down the field, dropped passes proved to be a thorn in the flesh for Stoops & Co. The Renegades had to punt, giving St. Louis the ball back with plenty of momentum. However, Hakeem Butler dropped a pass on 3rd and 8, which led to a punt right back.
Arlington couldn’t capitalize. After a decent march into Battlehawk territory, Sloter was picked off by Tre Watson, which gave the crowd something to cheer about.
Unfortunately, it was short lived. McCarron hit Darrius Shepherd on a couple of nice throws, putting them in a rhythm. However, AJ’s next pass sailed too high, and right into the hands of Joe Powell. Just like that, Arlington had the ball.
After a slow start offensively, St. Louis finally got something going. McCarron marched the team down the field seamlessly, which put the team in a position to score. AJ then found a wide open Darrius Shepherd in the endzone, which put the crowd in a frenzy.
A successful two point conversion to Brian Hill made it an 11-3 ball game heading into halftime.
To open up the second half, neither offense made any adjustments. The defensive coordinators were having their way, forcing punts and miscommunications on offense.
This time, St. Louis had an outstanding drive. Anthony Becht had his team rolling, getting into the red zone with ease. Brian Hill ran it in from several yards out, breaking tackles as the Battlehawks took a 17-3 lead.
Arlington did make a nice stop defensively, even pushing the Battlehawks back out of field goal range. A crazy pass from Sloter somehow was caught by Vander-Esch, and we went into the final fifteen minutes with a 17-3 ball game.
After being set up with great field position with the catch, the Arlington Renegades capitalized. De’Veon Smith ran it in from one yard out, pulling the team within one score. A bit of trickery on the two point conversion resulted in a pass from Smith to Sal Cannella, and just like that it was 17-11.
St. Louis had an answer. Once again, McCarron pushed the ball down the field smoothly, making it look easy. He then dropped an absolute dime to Hakeem Butler, who made an amazing over the shoulder catch for the score to go up 24-11.
AJ McCarron is having one hell of a game for the @XFLBattlehawks. This is an unbelievable throw, especially considering he got decked.
Arlington did march into St. Louis territory, but the joy was short-lived. Sloter got blasted in the backfield by Travis Feeney, which led to a Battlehawk takeover. With just a few minutes left, this one certainly felt like it was over.
It seemed like St. Louis could run the clock out, as the Renegades tired defense was out of gas. However, they did make a big stop on 4th and 1, which gave Arlington one more possession. Kyle Sloter threw another interception, this time to Silas Kelly who made an acrobatic catch.
The St. Louis Battlehawks got a big-time win over the Arlington Renegades, 24-11 in their XFL home opener.
From start to finish, this felt like a game that the St. Louis Battlehawks controlled. While it took them a little while to get things going offensively, it was only a matter of time before AJ McCarron took this game over.
Anthony Becht has to be very proud of his Battlehawks. They put on a show for their city, as over 38,000 fans joyfully watched their team improve to a 3-1 record on the season.
Arlington, on the other hand, has a lot to figure out. They are now 2-2 on the XFL season, as their offense struggled to find their footing whatsoever. Bob Stoops needs to find an answer, quick.
What did you think of the St. Louis Battlehawks home opener vs. the Arlington Renegades? Which XFL players impressed you the most? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!