Roughnecks Come Up Short in Season Finale

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by  Colin Spaulding

MEMPHIS, TN – The Houston Roughnecks headed to Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium this week to face the Memphis Showboats with the intention of avenging their Week 1 defeat and gaining ownership of the first overall pick of the 2025 UFL draft. 

The Roughnecks finished the 2024 UFL season with a 1-9 record on the season and fourth place in the USFL conference. 

The game started off slow for both teams. Having gone nine weeks since last facing each other, both teams were very much feeling each other out and trying to get into a rhythm on the offensive side of the ball. Memphis pulled ahead on their first drive, making it 3-0 after 

Showboats K Matt Coghlin split the uprights from 29 yards out. The Roughnecks thought they had taken the lead on the next drive, after Roughnecks QB Nolan Henderson found his favorite target WR Justin Hall in the end zone. However the play was called back due to a costly offensive pass interference penalty, and the ball was turned over on downs a few plays after to keep the score 3-0. 

The second quarter showed promise from the young Roughnecks offense, Henderson was able to move Houston down the field by finding open receivers, including a 43 yard completion to RB Kirk Merritt who was making his return to the field for the first time since injuring his wrist Week 2 versus D.C. However, after two trips to the red zone, the Roughnecks only had a 25 yard field goal from J.J. Molson to show for it. While Coghlin was able to tack on another field goal for the home team as the first half expired, both teams headed into the locker room with the score 6-3 in favor of Memphis. 

The second half began with the Roughnecks receiving the ball, Henderson, looking as though he’d taken some tips from his former teammate Lamar Jackson, was moving the Houston offense

back to the air, finding WRs Keke Chism and Justin Hall for big gains, before setting up Merritt to find the endzone from a yard out to cut the Showboat’s lead back down to three. The Showboats seemed poised to respond, until Showboats QB Josh Love’s pass was intercepted by Roughnecks S Markel Roby and taken for a touchdown. Despite the touchdown being called back due to an illegal blocking penalty, the Roughnecks began the last quarter of the season with the ball in their possession. 

Houston began the fourth quarter by tying the game at 12, thanks to a J.J. Molson 39 yard field goal. The Showboats, however, proved difficult to contain thanks to the hard-nosed running of Darius Victor. Victor found the endzone once again, making the score 19-12 in favor of Memphis after a successful one-point conversion. The Roughnecks offense took the field once more with just over six minutes remaining and down by seven. Nolan Henderson, who proved to be a problem for the Showboat’s defense all night, began leading the Roughnecks down the field with completions to Hall and WR Anthony Ratliff-Williams. But with a short completion to Hall not being enough to convert a 4th down, the Memphis Showboats took over on downs and were able to run out the clock. 

POST GAME NOTES 

  • Making his second start of the season for the Roughnecks, QB Nolan Henderson was 21-34 passing with 232 yards and 43 yards on the ground. 
  • S Markel Roby secured his third interception of the season, tying him for first in the league in that category. 
  • LB Marvin Moody led the way for the Roughnecks defense, registering 10 tackles.

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