The Houston Roughnecks defeated the San Antonio Brahmas 22-13 Sunday night at the University of Houston’s TDECU Stadium before a loud crowd of 11,309.
The Roughnecks are now 3-0 and the Brahmas fall to 1-2.
Although the home team held a comfortable 22-7 lead through much of the game, they were in danger of blowing the lead, and perhaps the game, late in the fourth quarter. With 5:51 to go and the Roughnecks leading 22-13, a one-possession lead in the XFL, the Brahmas had the ball at the Houston 1 yard line with a first down and goal.
Three times San Antonio tried to run the ball into the end zone, and was stopped for no gain. They tried to run again on fourth down and the result was a loss of four yards. The Roughnecks took possession of the ball on their own 5 yard line with 3:41 to go in the game.
The Roughnecks then moved the ball to the San Antonio 38-yard line with Max Borghi carrying four times for 24 yards, and Cedric Byrd catching a 27-yard pass from Brandon Silvers. Houston then punted with 18 seconds remaining, and the game was over.
“I was really proud of the guys. The goal line stand was really big,” Roughnecks head coach Wade Phillips said. “I was thinking, if they score, we have to stop the three-point conversion. But there wasn’t any if they score. The offense moving the ball away from the goal line really put the game away. I thought we played really well under pressure.”
“We get down there and have four chances to get in the end zone and we fell short. It’s just one yard. It’s wanting it. We didn’t execute and they just wanted it more than we did. We just didn’t finish. I had all the confidence in the world, we could get one yard,” San Antonio head coach Hines Ward said.
The game did not begin well for the Roughnecks, as San Antonio returned the opening kickoff 59 yards to the Houston 36 yard line. A few plays later, TJ Vasher caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Jack Coan. Vasher also caught a 2-yard pass from Coan for the one-point conversion, and San Antonio was up 7-0 with 12:29 to go in the first quarter.
The ensuing kickoff went out of bounds giving the Roughnecks good field position at the San Antonio 45-yard line. With 8:30 to go in the first quarter, Jontre Kirklin caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Silvers. Kirklin also caught a 5-yard pass from Silvers for the 2-point conversion, giving Houston an 8-7 lead.
Kirklin caught another touchdown pass from Silvers, this one from three yards out with 11:16 to go in the second quarter, giving Houston a 14-7 lead. With 4:54 to go in the first half, Deontay Burnett caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Silvers. Backup quarterback Cole McDonald ran five yards for the 2-point conversion and Houston led 22-7 at halftime.
San Antonio came back in the third quarter, with Jacques Patrick scoring on a 2-yard run, making the score 22-13, and setting the stage for the end-of-game heroics.
The Houston defense is the best defense in the league, and they held San Antonio to 162 total yards, 10 first downs and a third down conversion rate of 18%. Meanwhile, the Roughnecks had 374 total yards, 22 first downs and a third down conversion rate of 53%.
“I thought we played really well against a good football team,” Phillips said.
Silvers completed 24 of 35 passes for 278 yards and three touchdowns. Jontre Kirklin caught six passes for 77-yrds and two touchdowns, and Max Borghi rushed 15 times for 74 yards.
“It’s a testament to our hard work in practice. We go into the week every single day, going out there knowing what it takes. A shout-out to the defense, that stop was unreal,” Borghi said.
For San Antonio, Coan completed 8 of 20 passes for 64 yards and a touchdown.
“The loss is on me. It starts with the head coach. Today we just got outcoached,” Ward said. “Our players responded in the second half. I thought they played their tails off. Hats off to the Roughnecks. That’s a good ball club. My message to the team was to stay in the fight. That old saying, you are not as good as you think you are, and you are not as bad as they say you are. Today, hats off to Houston. They played great and the crowd was phenomenal.”
Q1: 12:29 SA TJ Vasher 9-yard touchdown pass from Jack Coan. 1-point conversion: Vasher 2-yard pass from Coan.
SA 7, HOU 0
8:30 HOU Jontre Kirklin 7-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Silvers. 2-point conversion: Kirklin 5-yard pass from Silvers.
HOU 8, SA 7
Q2: 11:16 HOU Kirklin 3-yard touchdown pass from Silvers. 2-point conversion failed.
HOU 14, SA 7
4:54 HOU Deontay Burnett 18-yard touchdown pass from Silvers. 2-point conversion: Cole McDonald 5-yard run.
HOU 22, SA 7
Q3: 2:53 SA Jacques Patrick 2-yard touchdown run. 2-point conversion: failed.
HOU 22, SA 13
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