Recap: DC Defenders 15, St. Louis BattleHawks 6
DC DEFENDERS 15, ST. LOUIS BATTLEHAWKS 6
WASHINGTON -- By making a first-quarter quarterback change, winning the battle in the XFL's most ground-focused game of the year, and excelling on defense, the DC Defenders (3-2) plowed to a 15-6 victory over the St. Louis BattleHawks (3-2).
The XFL's East division has a three-way at the top. DC's in the lead, having defeated St. Louis and the New York Guardians.
These two squads combined for the most rushing yards (402) of any XFL game, but a change at quarterback for the winning team played a major role in that result.
After Cardale Jones' first drive ended with an interception, Tyree Jackson got the call under center. While the 6-foot-8 backup didn't push the ball downfield much, his presence allowed DC's run game to stand tall and control the pace, getting sizable help from tailback Jhurell Pressley (107 rushing yards on 15 carries).
DC also limited QB Jordan Ta'amu to 174 aerial yards, made several key stops on third and fourth downs, and blocked a fourth-quarter punt to seal the deal.
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The seismic event that sealed the game for DC was this blocked punt by LB Jameer Thurman, which was scooped up by Jonathan Celestin to bury the ball at St. Louis' 4-yard line.
Upon replacing Jones, Jackson led a crisp drive and fired this RPO-fueled laser to TE Khari Lee for the touchdown.
The spark for the QB change was this brilliant diving interception in which BattleHawks wideout Kenny Robinson dug up an interception -- Jones' sixth thrown across the past three weeks.
DEFENDERS DISCUSS WIN
"The reason we won today is because WE -- every single player on this team -- played together as one and contributed. The difference in how we are feeling now and how we felt the last two Sundays is togetherness. We won today because we played as a team."
"That was a great team win. Our defense and special teams made plays and allowed me to do my thing. The running backs carried the load, and I'm really proud of how the offense played together down the stretch."
STATS OF THE GAME
The volume of rushing attempts in this game was sure to pad stats, but Matt Jones (70 yards on 13 cares, 5.4 average) and Christine Michael (69 yards on 12 attempts, 5.8 average) chewed up yardage without needing much work.
Wideout L'Damian Washington was the main game-breaker through the air, totaling five catches and 114 yards on a game-high eight targets.
On defense, Robinson had an interception, a sack, and a pass deflection. With all the ground work, linebacker Terence Garvin was busy; he totaled 16 tackles (seven solo).
In addition to combining on the play that sealed St. Louis' fate, Thurman and Celestin each had seven tackles. But one of the big disruptors of the game was defensive lineman Anthony Johnson, who seemed to find himself pressuring Ta'amu for much of the contest. He landed one sack for his troubles.
BattleHawks Look Back at Loss
"We weren’t very good. We shot ourselves in the foot obviously with penalties, could never get a rhythm. Besides that, at least the sun came out today. It was a beautiful day."
"We just can't start slow. You come to these places, you travel away, you really have to be warriors. Every team is good, no team is slack, no team doesn't have talent. Every team has players, every team has good players. You have to come out here ready to go. As a unit, as a team, you just have to come out stronger."