Brahmas Top Battlehawks 25-15, Punch Ticket to UFL Championship Game

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by Andy Seeley

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (June 9, 2024) – San Antonio rushed for a season-best 213 yards and racked up nine tackles for-loss and four sacks Sunday night at The Dome at America’s Center, as the Brahmas defeated the St. Louis Battlehawks 25-15 in the XFL Conference Championship Game. The victory advances San Antonio (8-3) to the United Football League Championship Game.


Anthony McFarland Jr. rushed for 115 yards for the Brahmas and his running mate John Lovett added another 83. McFarland’s 69-yard touchdown run early in the second half put San Antonio on top 19-3.


St. Louis (7-4) scored 12 points in 13 seconds later in the third quarter to get back into the contest. Battlehawks tight end Jake Sutherland pulled in a 1-yard scoring pass from quarterback A.J. McCarron with 5:54 left in the third quarter to make it 19-9. The first play of San Antonio’s ensuing possession resulted in a fumble, which was returned by St. Louis’ Pita Taumoepenu for a touchdown, pulling St. Louis within four, 19-15.


But San Antonio responded. The Brahmas drove 62 yards on eight plays for a 31-yard Ryan Santoso field goal to push their edge to seven, 22-15. The Battlehawks had an opportunity to trim the lead with six minutes remaining, but Andre Szmyt missed a 50-yard field goal.


San Antonio took a 10-point lead with 1:56 remaining in the contest on Santoso’s second field goal of the game, this one from 45 yards. St. Louis drove to the San Antonio 12-yard line but ran out of time, sending the Brahmas to the UFL Championship Game.


San Antonio took advantage of a St. Louis fumble to score the first points of the game. A Darrius Shepherd fumble was recovered by Tavante Beckett for the Brahmas. Three plays later, San Antonio quarterback Chase Garbers found Marquez Stevenson for a 15-yard touchdown. The 1-point conversion put the Brahmas up 7-0.


Garbers, who passed for 197 yards and two touchdowns, hooked up with Justin Smith for a 63-yard scoring strike on the first play of the second quarter to put San Antonio on top 13-0. Szmyt finally put the Battlehawks on the scoreboard with a 46-yard field goal three minutes later, setting up McFarland’s long TD run that put San Antonio in control early.


The San Antonio defense was dominant for much of the night. Prince Emili tallied two sacks of McCarron, while Wyatt Ray notched a pair of tackles for-loss. Seven different Brahma defenders made stops in the St. Louis backfield. San Antonio’s defensive unit held St. Louis to 2-of-11 on third-down conversions.


McCarron was 19-of-29 for 179 yards and a touchdown for St. Louis. Jacob Saylors led the Battlehawks’ ground game with 79 yards on 14 carries. Elijah Lee racked up 12 total tackles, including 8 solo stops, for St. Louis.


The United Football League Championship Game is slated for Sunday, June 16 at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis. The Birmingham Stallions (10-1) will face off with San Antonio. The Brahmas are the only team to defeat the Stallions in the regular season, taking an 18-9 win in San Antonio just three weeks ago in Week 9 of the UFL season.

XFL CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME NOTES


The inaugural XFL Conference Championship Game between the Battlehawks and Brahmas took place at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The last time a professional football playoff game took place in “The Lou” was 2004, when the St. Louis Rams hosted the Carolina Panthers in the NFL’s divisional round.


The San Antonio Brahmas picked up their first postseason win in franchise history and are now 8-3 (.727) under head coach Wade Phillips. The Super Bowl Champion coach (Denver, defensive coordinator, Super Bowl 50) turned the team around after taking over this year, as the team went 3-7 in the 2023 XFL season and missed the playoffs.


The game featured a combined three turnovers (two fumbles and one interception) between the teams, including on back-to-back occasions in the first quarter.


Quarterback Chase Garbers’ 63-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Justin Smith (first quarter) was good for the Brahmas’ longest pass play of the season, while running back Anthony McFarland Jr.’s 69-yard rushing touchdown (third quarter) was the Brahmas longest run play of the season.


St. Louis scored two touchdowns (one on offense, one on defense) in a span of 13 seconds in the third quarter, after being held to just three points in the entire first half.


San Antonio quarterback Chase Garbers threw his first touchdown pass since Week 3 in tonight’s game. His last touchdown pass came on April 16 in a 31-24 loss at home to the Battlehawks.


San Antonio’s offense posted 213 rushing yards, which is tied for the most rushing yards across the UFL in a game this season. Birmingham posted the same number in Week Five at Houston.


San Antonio and St. Louis faced off twice during the 2024 UFL regular season, with the Battlehawks winning both of those matchups. In Week 3 at San Antonio, the Battlehawks won 31-24. In Week 10 at St. Louis, the Battlehawks won 13-10.

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