Defenders Get Their Revenge Over the Former XFL Champion Arlington

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by  Kevin Walker

ARLINGTON, TEXAS (April 13, 2024) – With just four seconds left in the fourth quarter Defenders kicker Matt McCrane nailed a 49-yard field goal to secure the 29 to 28 victory in Arlington. The nail-biter between the Defenders and the Renegades took all 60 minutes to decide the winner after D.C. lost to Arlington last year in the XFL Championship.


The Defenders are now 2-1 overall with a 1-1 XFL conference record. D.C. is on a two-game win streak after their loss to San Antonio in week 1.


Arlington (0-3) had an opportunity to win in the final moments after a 25-yard punt return gave the Defenders possession at the D.C. 27-yard line with 1:34 remaining. But a pair of false start penalties short-circuited the possession. On fourth-and-1 from the D.C. 24-yard line Houston quarterback Reid Sinnett was incomplete in the end zone, allowing D.C. to hold on.


A 54-yard field goal from placekicker Matt McCrane gave D.C. an early 3-0 lead with 5:55 remaining in the first quarter. The opening field goal was the longest of the season for McCrane but would be short-lived.


Arlington got things going late in the first quarter, with a six-minute drive capped off with a touchdown five seconds into the second quarter. Quarterback Luis Perez found receiver Tyler Vaughns for a 19-yard touchdown to give the Renegades the lead.


Arlington extended its lead to 14-3 with another passing touchdown from Perez, this time a 17-yard reception from J.P. Payton. The Renegades cashed in on the two-point conversion, with a successful rush from Lindsey Scott Jr.


D.C. cut the Arlington lead to five points with 1:12 remaining in the first half, as quarterback Jordan Ta’amu found receiver Chris Rowland for a 10-yard touchdown pass.


Arlington dominated possession in the first half, recording 21:51 time of possession compared to D.C.’s 8:09. The Renegades ran 25 more plays than the Defenders. The first half also featured only one punt between either team.


D.C. opened up the scoring in the second half, with a 58-yard field goal from the leg of McCrane that cut the Arlington lead to two points. 58 yards is not only the season-high for the Brownwood, TX native but also the third-longest field goal distance in the UFL this season.


With 5:42 remaining in the third quarter, placekicker Taylor Russolino increased the Arlington lead to five points with a 37-yard field goal.


D.C. took the lead with 1:08 left in the third quarter, with a 14-yard touchdown reception by receiver Brandon Smith. Prior to the touchdown, the Defenders had not led since the opening field goal.


Arlington regained the lead with 12:17 remaining in the fourth quarter, this time coming on the ground. Lindsey Scott Jr. rushed for a 13-yard touchdown, and a reception from tight end Sal Cannella converted the two-point conversion.


Russolino booted a 49-yard field goal with 2:08 remaining to extend the Arlington lead to 10 points.


D.C. quickly responded, kicking off the next drive with a 57-yard kickoff return by Rowland. After a five-play drive, running back Cam’Ron Harris punched in a touchdown for the Defenders,

which was followed by a successful two-point conversion by Ta’amu.


Still trailing by two points, D.C. elected to go for the alternative kickoff. A 19-yard pass from Ta’amu to receiver Ty Scott converted the 4th-and-12. The D.C. offense drove down the field, setting up a 49-yard field goal by McCrane for the 29-28 win.


The Defenders are back in action Saturday at the Birmingham Stallions. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. ET, with the game set to be broadcast on FOX.


Postgame Notes

  • The Defenders are 2-1 against the Renegades overall.
  • QB Jordan Ta’amu went 11-24 passing with 188 yards with two passing touchdowns
  • WR’s Brandon Smith and Chris Rowland both had receiving touchdowns this week
  • K Matt McCrane now holds the third-longest field goal in the league, and now his personal best

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