By Matthew Feimer
The St. Louis Battlehawks came in as a 9.5 underdog on the road to the team that is favorite to win it all. The Dallas Renegades were led on the field by a group of bad ass bikers, and Bob Stoops the league’s most high-profile coach and Oliver Luck’s first hire. Dallas was expected to have one of the league’s most potent offenses with quarterback Landry Jones the league’s first signing, unfortunatley he was ruled out with injury.
As it turns out it was the Battlehawks defense that raised hell in Dallas and dominated the Renegade offense. The Battlehawks would not give up the big explosive play. Phillip Nelson who started in place of the injured Landry Jones did have a pretty good game. Nelson went 33/42 for 209, no touchdowns, and a game ending interception. The Renegades running game wasn’t much better having 68 yards on the night.
For St. Louis it was old school defense and a solid running game that scored 15 points. Rookie quarterback Jordan Ta’amu looked confident and poised in his first pro start. He completed 74% of his passes throwing for 209 yards on 20/27 passing and a laser touchdown pass to Alonzo Russell at the end of the third quarter to give the Battle Hawks the lead for good. When Ta’amu was not completing passes, he was using his legs to keep the Dallas defense on their heels. His 9 attempts for 77 yards rushing contributed to the teams 191 yards rushing for the night. St. Louis is the first team in league history to have over 100 yards rushing.
The Battlehawks defense would sack Nelson 4 times on the night, and Dallas could not throw the ball deep. Coach Hayes said after the game he is happy with the win, but they need to stop shooting themselves in the foot with penalties and mistakes. Johnathan Hayes is a Stoops disciple and was a coach when Oklahoma won their last national championship. Coach Hayes was impressed with the way his defense was hitting. Hayes said he was also happy with Ta’amu performance. The Battlehawks will go back to Texas to face the Houston Roughnecks this weekend. They will have their hands full with that Run n Shoot offense.
The Renegades now go on the road to play the LA Wildcats in their home opener. They hope to have Landry Jones back in the starting role. Bob Stoops looked frustrated most of the night and his press conference was no different. He was impressed with his defense despite giving up a couple of plays. His offense he said failed to convert third downs and in the red zone. He said when you settle for field goals instead of touchdowns it usually results in a loss. Bob Stoops did say the whole XFL experience has, however been a lot of fun. He also said the league hit a home run this weekend.
feature photo credit: XFL