XFL: Arlington Renegades, Houston Roughnecks winners on opening day

The Arlington Renegades and Houston Roughnecks won their respective opening day games in Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s new XFL but the games were vastly different.

Arlington Renegades 22 – Vegas Vipers 20

Arlington LB Tomasi Laulile scores on an electrifying 22 yard pick six

The Arlington Renegades coached by Bob Stoops, scored twice on pick sixes after the Vegas Vipers had grabbed an early 14-3 lead, to surge in front, and then held off a late Vipers rally to come away with a 22-20 victory in the opening game of the 2023 XFL season.

Arlington defensive back De Vante Bausby picked off Vegas quarterback Luis Perez on the Vipers six yard line and scored with four minutes left in the game to give his team a 22-14 lead. But two possessions later with just 49 seconds left, the Vipers signal caller marched his team from its own 40 yard line down to the 20 and then found Cinque Sweeting for a score at the 12 second mark to narrow the lead to 22-20 after the conversion attempt failed. That was as close as they came though as the Renegades held on for the historic win.

Renegades quarterback Drew Pitt threw for 172 yards with Tyler Vaughns as his leading receiver. Vaughns had four receptions for 38 yards while teammate Brandon Arconado had three for 32. Deveon Smith had 15 carries for 42 yards while Keith Ford carried the ball nine times for 24 yards.

For Rod Woodson’s Vegas Vipers, Perez completed 22 of 36 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns but was picked off twice for touchdowns. Jeff Badet led all receivers with six receptions for 81 yards and two scores while Sweeting had three catches for 64 yards and a touchdown. The Vipers run game was almost non existent though as the team mustered a mere 25 yards on the ground.

Houston Roughnecks 33 – Orlando Guardians 12

Deontay Burnett

#1 Deontay Burnett caught 8 passes for 88 yards and 1 touchdown for the Houston Roughnecks (Twitter)

By ESPN staff

Houston’s defense dominated Orlando, as the Roughnecks registered seven sacks on Guardians quarterbacks Paxton Lynch and Quinten Dormady and overcame an early touchdown to set the tone. The Guardians (0-1) scored first when receiver Cody Latimer — who played with Lynch on the Denver Broncos — outfought a Roughnecks defensive back for a 27-yard touchdown reception on the first series of the game.

But the Roughnecks (1-0) dominated from there, thanks to four sacks from linebacker Trent Harris and two from defensive end Tim Ward. That allowed Houston to erupt for 24 unanswered points, 21 of them coming on four consecutive possessions in the first half. Roughnecks quarterback Brandon Silvers threw two touchdown passes, a 10-yarder to Jontre Kirklin for Houston’s first score and a 46-yarder to Deontay Burnett in which the former NFL receiver caught it with one hand and pulled away for the touchdown.

Houston running back Max Borghi also ran for a 27-yard touchdown.

Orlando broke the Houston scoring run in the fourth quarter with a 51-yard touchdown pass from Dormady to Andrew Jamiel, but a fumbled punt late in the fourth quarter ruined any hopes of a Guardians comeback, as the turnover turned into a 5-yard touchdown run by Houston backup quarterback Cole McDonald.

Silvers led the way for the Roughnecks, throwing for 265 yards and two touchdowns on 26-of-42 passing with two interceptions. Burnett had eight receptions for 88 yards, while Kirklin had five catches for 66 yards. Lynch led Orlando with 136 yards on 15-of-21 passing.

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