Last Second Field Goal Downs Battlehawks

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by Jacob Mayer

The St. Louis Battlehawks began their 2024 UFL campaign with an 18-16 loss to the Michigan Panthers Saturday with 9,444 fans in attendance at Ford Field in Detroit.

A back-and-forth affair that saw 24 combined points scored in the fourth quarter went to the Panthers after K Jake Bates made a 64-yard field goal attempt with 8 seconds left in the game.

The Battlehawks had taken a 16-15 lead when QB A.J. McCarron connected with Marcell Ateman on 4th-and-goal from the 5 yard line for a touchdown with 54 seconds to play on a drive that began with a 48-yard kick return by WR Darrius Shepherd. McCarron then hit TE Jake Sutherland for a 1-yard completion on the extra-point attempt that nudged the Battlehawks in front by a single point. Ateman also made a 25-yard catch on 4th-and-10 earlier in the drive. He had a team-high 60 receiving yards.

St. Louis began the final quarter down, 7-3, but scored a touchdown on its first drive of the quarter when McCarron found Sutherland for a 5-yard strike to erase a 4-point deficit with 7:55 left in regulation. The Battlehawks were unable to convert an ensuing two-point conversion but held a 9-7 advantage.

Michigan QB E.J. Perry then rushed for his second touchdown of the day with 5:09 left in regulation. He also hit WR Devin Ross on a two-point conversion attempt to give the Panthers a 15-9 lead.

The Battlehawks made their first comeback attempt to erase a 7-3 deficit when they drove 63 yards down to the Michigan 5-yard line on their final drive of the third quarter, but the Panthers stopped RB Wayne Gallman II on a 4th-and-1 attempt on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Michigan scored its first touchdown with an 8-play, 93-yard drive on its first possession of the second half. Perry finished the drive with a 4-yard rush into the end zone with 5:32 left in the third quarter. RB Matthew Colburn II then completed a 2-yard rush on a one-point conversion attempt to put the Panthers ahead, 7-3. St. Louis had entered the halftime break with a  3-0 lead on the strength of a 36-yard field goal by K Andre Szmyt as time expired in the first half.FS Qwynnterrio Cole gave St. Louis possession for that drive with an interception at the goal line on a pass tipped by S Dravon Askew-Henry with 8:02 left in the second quarter. MLB Mike Rose grabbed the team’s first takeaway of the season when he picked off Perry with 9:23 left in the first quarter.


Postgame Notes

  • WR Marcell Ateman caught a game-tying, 5-yard touchdown on 4th-and-goal with 0:54 left in the game, along with a 25-yard catch on 4th-and-10 with 1:59 to play. Ateman finished the game with a team-high 60 receiving yards.
  • TE Jake Sutherland caught the first touchdown pass of the season for the Battlehawks on a 5-yard reception with 8:01 remaining in the fourth quarter and a go-ahead, one-point conversion with 0:59 left. He finished the game with 45 receiving yards, his single-game high in 10 career games with the Battlehawks.
  • QB A.J. McCarron threw two touchdown passes while going 24-for-37 for 216 yards. The 2023 XFL leader with 24 touchdown passes a year ago has thrown multiple touchdown passes in eight of his 10 career Battlehawks games.
  • WR Darrius Shepherd had 164 all-purpose yards, including a 48-yard kick return with 5:01 left in the fourth quarter that set up the Battlehawks’ final touchdown drive.
  • DE Travis Feeney converted his first sack of the season when he dropped Michigan QB E.J. Perry for a loss of 8 yards with 12:51 left in the fourth quarter. Feeney led the Battlehawks with 5.0 sacks in 2023.
  • MLB Mike Rose made the first interception of the season for St. Louis with 9:23 to play in the first quarter to end Michigan’s second offensive drive. It was the first interception of his Battlehawks career. He led Iowa State with five interceptions in 2020.
  • FS Qwynnterrio Cole intercepted a pass at the Michigan goal line with 8:02 left in the second quarter, his first interception of the season. He had a team-high three picks in 2023 for the Seattle Sea Dragons of the XFL.
  • LB Willie Harvey led the team with seven tackles (five solo), two pass breakups and matched DE Travis Feeney for the team lead with two tackles for loss. Harvey ranked 6th in the 2023 XFL with a team-leading 59 tackles.
  • The Battlehawks will open their home schedule against the XFL Division-foe Arlington Renegades at 7 p.m. CT on Saturday, April 6 at The Dome at America’s Center. The game will be televised on ABC and  simulcast on ESPN Xtra on SiriusXM Radio. Tickets are available at TheUFL.com/tickets.

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