Battlehawks Fall 25-15 in XFL Conference Championship


by Jacob Mayer

The St. Louis Battlehawks fell, 25-15, Sunday to the San Antonio Brahmas in the XFL Conference Championship with 30,237 fans in attendance at The Dome at America’s Center.

The Battlehawks (7-4) never held a lead but closed to within four points of San Antonio (8-3) in the third quarter when LB Pita Taumoepenu recovered a fumble by Brahmas QB Chase Garbers at the San Antonio 10 yard line. Taumoepenu sprinted to the end zone to narrow the score to 19-15 with 5 minutes, 41 seconds left in the third quarter.

Brahmas K Ryan Santoso made a 31-yard field goal on San Antonio’s following possession to complete an 8-play, 62-yard drive and extend the lead to 22-15 with 1:18 remaining in the third quarter. Both teams punted on their next possessions. St. Louis then reached the San Antonio 32 yard line, but K Andre Szmyt was unable to convert a 50-yard field goal attempt. Santoso then made a 45-yard field goal to give the Brahmas their final 10-point lead.

San Antonio led by as much as 19-3 with 10:08 to play in the third quarter after a 69-yard touchdown run from RB Anthony McFarland Jr. The Battlehawks scored their first touchdown of the game on a 1-yard touchdown pass from QB A.J. McCarron to TE Jake Sutherland with 5:54 left in the third quarter to cut San Antonio’s advantage to 19-9. WR Hakeem Butler nearly made a 2-point conversion catch, but officials ruled the catch out of bounds, which left St. Louis at a 10-point deficit.

Battlehawks FS Kameron Kelly ended the Brahmas’ first offensive drive with an interception in his own end zone, but San Antonio scored on each of its next two drives. Garbers threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to WR Marquez Stevenson, and RB Morgan Ellison added a 1-point conversion to put the Brahmas up, 7-0, with 4:21 to play in the first quarter. Garbers then threw a 63-yard touchdown pass to WR Justin Smith on the first play of the second quarter to run the lead to 13-0. Szmyt gave St. Louis its first points on a 46-yard field goal to trim the deficit to 10 points, 13-3, with 11:36 remaining in the second quarter.

RB Jacob Saylors led the St. Louis rushing attack with 79 of the team’s 86 rushing yards for the game. WR Hakeem Butler made a game-high six catches for 59 yards, and McCarron was 19-for-29 passing for 179 yards and a touchdown. LB Elijah Lee led the defense with 12 tackles, including a sack, in his Battlehawks debut.

  • RB Jacob Saylors rushed a team-high 14 times for 79 of the Battlehawks’ 86 rushing yards. He also made one reception for 12 yards. Saylors led all UFL running backs in the regular season with 461 rushing yards.
  • QB A.J. McCarron finished 19-for-29 with 179 passing yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. McCarron ranked second in the UFL with 15 touchdown passes in the regular season.
  • TE Jake Sutherland caught a 1-yard touchdown pass with 5:54 left in the third quarter. He had two touchdown receptions during the regular season.
  • WR Darrius Shepherd compiled a game-high 223 all-purpose yards, including three receptions for 51 yards. He made a 38-yard reception in the fourth quarter that was the longest play of the game for St. Louis.
  • WR Hakeem Butler caught a game-high six passes for a team-high 59 yards.
  • LB Pita Taumoepenu recovered a fumble at the San Antonio 10-yard line and scored his first touchdown of the season with 5:41 left in the third quarter.
  • FS Kameron Kelly caught an interception in the St. Louis end zone with 7:06 to play in the first quarter, his second interception in as many weeks. He tied for the UFL lead with three interceptions during the regular season.
  • LB Elijah Lee made a game-high 12 tackles (8 solo), including 1.0 sack, in his Battlehawks debut.
  • CB Tim Harris forced the first fumble and notched the first sack of his Battlehawks career.
  • K Andre Szmyt made a 46-yard field goal with 11:36 to play in the second quarter. He led the UFL with 19 made field goals during the regular season.


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