Battlehawks Clinch Playoff Spot With 26-21 Win Over Defenders

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by Jacob Mayer

The St. Louis Battlehawks clinched a playoff berth with a 26-21 victory Sunday over the D.C. Defenders in front of 32,403 fans at The Dome at America’s Center. The win guaranteed the Battlehawks a spot in the XFL Conference Championship Game scheduled for 6 p.m. CT on Sunday, June 9.


RB Wayne Gallman II scored the game-winning touchdown on a 1-yard rush with 2 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to give St. Louis (6-2) its 5-point margin. Gallman accounted for all 44 yards on the drive with 6 rushing yards and a 38-yard catch that was the longest play from scrimmage for either team.


The Defenders (3-5) had taken a 1-point lead, 21-20, with 4:55 to play after a  73-yard, 12-play drive culminated in a 17-yard touchdown pass from QB Jordan Ta’amu to WR Ty Scott and 1-point conversion pass from Ta’amu to TE Kaden Smith. 


D.C. scored its other touchdown on the first possession of the second half when Ta’amu found TE Alex Ellis for a 30-yard touchdown pass with 10:38 to play in the third quarter. The pair also connected on the ensuing 2-point conversion to run the D.C. advantage to 14-9. That lead was short-lived, as the Battlehawks stormed back with a touchdown of their own less than 3 minutes later on a 7-yard touchdown run by Gallman. QB Manny Wilkins completed a 5-yard pass to TE Kemari Averett for the 2-point conversion to give St. Louis a 17-14 lead.


After a drive from each team that ended in punts, FS Qwnnterrio Cole intercepted Ta’amu on the first play of the fourth quarter to give St. Louis possession at the D.C. 18 yard line. That set up K Andre Szmyt for a 37-yard field goal that extended the St. Louis lead to 20-14 with 11:25 to play in the final quarter.

The Battlehawks took their first lead of the game, 9-3, with 1:07 left before halftime when RB Jacob Saylors scored his team-leading fifth rushing touchdown of the season on a 2-yard rush. Defenders K Matt McCrane made his second field goal of the half, a 49-yarder with 6 seconds left before halftime to narrow the Battlehawks’ lead to three points, 9-6.


The teams traded field goals to begin the game. McCrane made a 48-yard field goal with 8:33 left in the first quarter, and Szmyt made his first field goal of the game on a 26-yard strike with 7:59 to play in the second quarter after SS Kameron Kelly intercepted Ta’amu to give St. Louis the ball with 10 seconds left in the opening quarter.


The Battlehawks will play their final road game of the regular season in Week 9 when they face the Arlington Renegades at 11 a.m. CT on Saturday, May 25 at Choctaw Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The game will be broadcast on ABC and ESPN Xtra on Sirius XM Radio.


  • RB Wayne Gallman II compiled a game-high 80 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 12 attempts. He added a 38-yard reception with  that was the longest play from scrimmage in the game 
  • RB Jacob Saylors scored his team-leading fifth rushing touchdown of the season on a 2-yard rush with 1:07 left in the second quarter. 
  • SS Kameron Kelly made his 2nd interception (Also: Week 5 at D.C.) with 10 seconds left in the first quarter, tyingthe most on the team this season.
  • FS Qwynnterrio Cole intercepted his 2nd pass of the season (Also: Week 1 at MICH) on the first play of the fourth quarter to also tie for the most interceptions on the team this season.
  • St. Louis improved to 4-0 at home this season.

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