Battlehawks Clinch Home Field With 13-12 Win Over Brahmas


by Jacob Mayer

The St. Louis Battlehawks secured home-field advantage for the XFL Conference Championship with a 13-12 victory Saturday over the San Antonio Brahmas in front of 34,379 fans at The Dome at America’s Center.

The Battlehawks (7-3) and Brahmas (7-3) will meet again in the conference championship contest at 6 p.m. CT on Sunday, June 9 at The Dome at America’s Center. The game will be televised on FOX and simulcast on FOX Sports on Sirius XM Radio.

St. Louis held a 13-6 lead at the 2-minute warning, but the Brahmas scored on a 37-yard touchdown pass from QB Quinten Dormady to WR Jontre Kirklin with 1:56 remaining to shave the Battlehawks’ lead to one point. Dormady completed a pass to Kirklin from the 2.5 yard line after a St. Louis penalty for a 2-point conversion, which the referees initially ruled short of the goal line. Officials overturned the spot of the ball on review, which gave San Antonio a 14-13 lead, but St. Louis challenged an ineligible man downfield penalty that negated the conversion. Dormady then threw an incomplete pass on the following attempt from the 7 yard line, and St. Louis maintained the lead.

St. Louis punted on its next drive. With 50 seconds left to make a comeback, the Brahmas reached the St. Louis 33 yard line with 12 seconds to play. K Ryan Santoso attempted an unsuccessful 51-yard field goal that WR Hakeem Butler tipped to seal the Battlehawks’ one-point triumph to end the regular season.

The Battlehawks initially built a 10-point lead in the first half. The teams committed a combined three turnovers in the first 16 minutes of play, but St. Louis broke through on a 22-yard touchdown pass from QB A.J. McCarron to WR Steven Mitchell Jr. with 11:54 to play in the second quarter. McCarron also found TE Jake Sutherland for a 1-point conversion to complete the drive and put St. Louis ahead, 7-0.

K Andre Szmyt increased the Battlehawks’ lead to 10-0 with 2:03 remaining before halftime on a 32-yard field goal, which completed a 13-play, 82-yard drive that covered 7:16 of game time. Santoso attempted a 59-yard field goal for San Antonio with 16 seconds left in the half, but TE Kemari Averett blocked the attempt to preserve the first-half shutout. San Antonio scored its first points on the first drive after halftime when RB Morgan Ellison rushed 6 yards for a touchdown to cap an 8-play, 75 yard march.

The winner of the XFL Conference Championship matchup between the Battlehawks and Brahmas will advance to face the USFL Conference Championship winner in the UFL Championship, which will be played at 4 p.m. CT on Sunday, June 16 at The Dome at America’s Center. It will be broadcast on FOX and FOX Sports on Sirius XM Radio.

  • RB Jacob Saylors rushed for a game-high 50 yards on 12 attempts to set the Battlehawks single-season rushing record at 461 yards, surpassing Brian Hill’s 416 yards during the 2023 XFL season. Saylors also leads all UFL running backs in rushing yards this season.
  • QB A.J. McCarron threw his 15th touchdown pass of the season on a 22-yard strike to WR Steven Mitchell Jr. with 11:54 to play in the second quarter. McCarron was 10-for-24 with 115 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception for the game. He finished the season with 1,582 passing yards and 15 touchdown passes against four interceptions.
  • LB Willie Harvey led the team with a game-high 10 tackles (6 solo), including his fourth sack of the season. He finished the regular season with a team single-season-record 78 tackles and 43 solo tackles.
  • WR Steven Mitchell Jr. caught his second touchdown pass of the season on a 22-yard reception with 11:54 to play in the second quarter.
  • TE Jake Sutherland scored his team-high second 1-point conversion after St. Louis’ first touchdown. He also leads the team with four extra-point conversions on the season.
  • TE Kemari Averett blocked a field goal attempt with 16 seconds left in the second quarter, his first blocked kick of the season.
  • WR Darrius Shepherd set a franchise single-game record with 72 punt return yards, including a 41-yard punt return that was the longest punt return in franchise history.
  • LB Travis Feeney registered his fifth sack of the season to tie LB Pita Taumoepenu for the most on the team this season and match Feeney’s franchise single-season record from the 2023 XFL season.
  • FS Kameron Kelly intercepted his team-high third pass of the season to end San Antonio’s second drive of the game with 3:30 left in the first quarter. He also tied the franchise single-season interception record CB Brandon Sebastian set in 2023.
  • DE Austin Faoliu forced his first fumble of the season with 51 seconds left in the first quarter, and SS Dravon Askew-Henry made his first fumble recovery of the year on the play.
  • K Andre Szmyt made two field goals, marking his seventh game this season with multiple field goals. He has a UFL-leading 19 field goals on the season (19-for-21) and ended the regular season with 12 consecutive successful kicks.


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