Artis-Payne, Jones lift Renegades to Week 2 win
CARSON, Calif. -- The Dallas Renegades relied on their run game in the second half of a turnover-heavy game to beat the Los Angeles Wildcats in their home opener, 25-18.
Running back Cameron Artis-Payne sealed the game for the Renegades down the stretch, scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
“I was just running,” Payne said. “We’ve been focusing on finishing, so at the end of the day once we got down there, there was nothing else but to score.
“Offensive line did a good job wearing them down. We exploited some weaknesses after halftime,” he added. “They continued to get a push to the second level on the linebackers and allowing us to get it downhill.”
The Renegades gave Artis-Payne the ball 10 times in the final nine minutes, and he tallied 80 yards in that span.
Dallas head coach Bob Stoops credited the former NFL back and the team’s ability to establish the run in the second half of the game as “huge.”
“That was a major part of [the win],” Stoops said. “I thought we put them in a tough spot defending the run.”
Artis-Payne, who played four seasons with the Carolina Panthers, had his best rushing performance as a pro, finishing with 99 rushing yards on 14 attempts. He added five receptions for 32 yards.
After a lackluster first half from both squads and with the game tied at 3-3, the second half featured better execution and more explosive plays.
The Renegades put up back-to-back scores in the fourth quarter, scoring the first touchdown of the game, and built their lead to 19-9.
Despite throwing for 305 yards and a touchdown, Dallas quarterback Landry Jones looked rusty in his XFL debut, throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble through three quarters.
Jones, who hadn’t seen game action since his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2017, called his performance “not good,” and took the blame for the turnovers.
“If I would’ve taken care of the ball, I feel like it would’ve been a different day altogether,” he said. “Accuracy, that was my main problem.”
Stoops praised Jones -- who sustained a knee injury in training camp and missed five weeks of practices -- for fighting back, calling his second-half performance more consistent.
The Wildcats answered with a TD of their own and executed a three-point PAT to close within 19-18 with 4:37 left.
But the Renegades marched down the field to pad the lead, with Artis-Payne rushing off left tackle for a 14-yard touchdown with 1:14 to play.
The Renegades offense turned the ball over three times, but the Wildcats were unable to get points off of the turnovers.
Stoops credited his defense with fighting out of some tough situations the team faced early and holding the Wildcats offense down.
Dallas remains on the road next week, traveling to take on the Seattle Dragons (1-1) at CenturyLink field on Saturday (5 p.m. ET, FOX). The Renegades’ next home game is Sunday, March 1, at 4 p.m. ET (FS1).