The Houston Roughnecks Come Up Short As Defensive Triumphs Weren't Enough

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by Jessica Lodge

HOUSTON, TEXAS – In a second Texas-sized showdown at Rice Stadium, previous Roughnecks Head Coach, Wade Phillips made his return to the Bayou City alongside the San Antonio Brahmas, and left victorious after a nail-biting win over his former team, 15-12.


The Brahmas would charge down the field early in the football contest–seeking to score the first set of six. Although battling through early defensive struggles, the Roughnecks defense was able to step up to the plate and halt San Antonio’s efforts of scoring with a forced fumble by LB Reuben Foster and recovery by DL Glen Logan at the HOU 4-yard line. The Houston defense would come up big again with a forced fumble by CB Corn Elder and recovery by SS Donald Rutledge in the red zone. Both teams would take part in consecutive 3 and outs, ending the first quarter without any successful scoring drives. 


In possession of the ball at the start of the second quarter, San Antonio would have successful travels down the field to the Houston endzone. Following a series of incomplete passes, the Brahmas would settle for a field goal, putting the score at 3-0. The Roughnecks would continue to struggle offensively in the second set of fifteen; unable to find a beneficial tempo. But with 17 seconds left on the timeclock ahead of halftime, an electrifying deep pass by QB Jarrett Guarantano to WR Justin Hall for 41 yards would create an opening for Houston to put up their first tally of the game following a 48-yard field goal; bringing the score to 3-3 at the half. 


Storming from the tunnel, the Roughnecks defense would continue to play a pivotal role in the team’s spark–recording a sack and forced fumble by DE Chris Odom and recovery by DL Ethan Westbrooks to put the boys in blue in dominant field position at the SA 25-yard line. With the defense leading the way, players on the offensive side of the ball would continue the pace with a series of big completions and rushes to reach the red zone once again. Determined to muzzle Houston’s lit fire, the Brahmas would have successful defensive stops–forcing the Roughnecks to settle for 3.  


Where they seemed to control the narrative in the first half, mishaps by San Antonio on both sides of the ball were spotlighted within the last 6 minutes of the third quarter. The pendulum would begin to swing heavily in Houston’s favor as K J.J. Molson would ignite his teammates and the stadium with a 62-yard field goal (9-3)–followed by CB Colby Richardson’s interception on QB Quinten Dormady. In their first drive of the fourth, the Roughnecks would continue to make the effort to chop down the Brahmas’ chances of a comeback with yet another successful field goal, increasing the score to 12-3–as San Antonio would let 9 points go unanswered.


But even with a slow start, the Brahmas would not go quietly in the last set. With the start of their drive at 12:32, San Antonio would continue to push down field through a series of defensive penalties by the Roughnecks–resulting in a much contested 1-yard rushing touchdown up the middle by RB John Lovett. Closing in on Houston’s lead 12-9, San Antonio would tie the game at 12-12 ahead of the two-minute warning with a successful three-point conversion. The final two minutes of the game would come down to a kickoff return fumble by HOU WR Reggie Roberson and a lucrative recovery by SA CB Teez Tabor. The Brahmas would seal a win with a 51-yard field goal as the clock ran down to zero. 


Houston will face USFL Conference rivals, the Birmingham Stallions, on the road at Protective Stadium on Saturday, May 18. Game 8 will air on ESPN2 at 7pm CT/8pm ET.

POST GAME NOTES: 


  • K J.J. Molson recorded the league’s second longest field goal of the season (62 yards).
  • WR Justin Hall led the team with 69 receiving yards, increasing his total to 352. 
  • CB Colby Richardson recorded his first interception of the season. 
  • Roughnecks defense achieved a team-high of 3 forced fumbles and recoveries. 
  • DE Chris Odom leads the team with 2 forced fumbles. 
  • Both teams recorded 30:00 minutes of time possession. 

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