Week 1 of the 2020 XFL season began Saturday, with half of the league’s eight teams in action.
The Seattle Dragons and D.C. Defenders got the action started, with Defenders quarterback Cardale Jones leading D.C. to a 31-19 comeback win. In the nightcap, Houston Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker led a comeback of his own, dispatching the Los Angeles Wildcats 37-17.
In this post, Sporting News covered the two Saturday games. Below, you’ll be able to see videos from the game and stats from the best players.
This is the first week of 10 for the XFL’s regular season. The schedule is as such: Each team will play 10 regular-season games — one game against a team from the opposing division (four) and two games against teams from its division (six). Each week will feature two games on Saturday and two games on Sunday. The regular season started Feb. 8 and will end April 12. Fans will be able to watch games on various ESPN and Fox networks throughout the season.
The league is made up of eight teams, split into two divisions. The East Division features the Defenders, New York Guardians, St. Louis BattleHawks and Tampa Bay Vipers. The West Division features the Roughnecks, Wildcats and Dragons and Dallas Renegades.
Los Angeles Wildcats at Houston Roughnecks score, highlights
Recap: Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker was the standout, throwing for 272 yards and four touchdowns on 23-for-39 passing. Walker’s performance was complemented by Houston’s defense, which didn’t allow a touchdown in the final 39 minutes of the game and shut out the Wildcats in the second half. Los Angeles, missing starting quarterback Josh Johnson because of an injury, benched backup Charles Kanoff for a series in the second half. Kanoff looked good early, pushing the Wildcats to a 14-6 lead with a pair of touchdowns — one on the air and one on the ground. But Houston took the lead just before halftime and never looked back.
FINAL: Roughnecks 37, Wildcats 17
(All times Eastern)
7:49 p.m.: The Roughnecks are running away with it, with Butler plunging in from 4 yards out. The lead is now 37-17 midway through the fourth.
7:34 p.m.: Frustrated with its offense, Los Angeles goes to third-string QB Jalan McClendon, who’s quickly intercepted.
7:30 p.m.: Houston adds to its lead with a field goal early in the fourth.
End third quarter: Roughnecks 26, Wildcats 17
7:05 p.m.: The Wildcats are back on top with another touchdown. Walker is taking over, hitting Kahlil Lewis for a 4-yard score. Then, Walker runs in for a 2-point conversion.
6:54 p.m.: In case you ever wanted to hear a replay official.
Halftime: Wildcats 18, Roughnecks 17
6:34 p.m.: Houston responds in a flash: Walker to Sam Mobley for a 39-yard score. The Roughnecks are yet to convert after a touchdown, though, so they still trail 18-17 late in the second quarter.
6:31 p.m.: A Los Angeles field goal caps a drive that included this play.
6:09 p.m.: Houston cuts the lead to 14-12 with a touchdown catch from running back James Butler. Conversion attempt is no good.
6:01 p.m.: The Wildcats extend their lead with a nice, juggling catch from Jordan Smallwood.
End first quarter: Wildcats 8, Roughnecks 6
5:26 p.m.: QB Charles Kanoff, Los Angeles’ backup who’s starting because Josh Johnson is injured, scrambles in for a touchdown. The Wildcats go for two and take a two-point lead.
5:17 p.m.: Good stuff here.
5:12 p.m.: P.J. Walker to Cam Phillips for a 55-yard score for an early Houston lead. The 1-point attempt is no good.
Seattle Dragons at D.C. Defenders score, highlights
FINAL: Defenders 31, Dragons 19
Recap: Cardale Jones was the star on offense for the Defenders. He completed 16 of 26 passes for 291 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also led the team in rushing before taking kneeldowns at the end of the game. The real star for D.C., however, was the defensive unit. The Defenders were true to their name, picking up three turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble). D.C. had two scores on defense/special teams: one was an interception return and the other was on a blocked punt. Austin Proehl shined for Seattle in the loss, finishing with five receptions for 88 yards and two touchdowns. Neither team could accomplish much on the ground.
5:03 p.m.: Dragons QB Brandon Silvers suffers an apparent ankle injury. He was heard talking to trainers on the field saying, “I’ll be alright, maybe not today, but I’ll be all right.” B.J. Daniels is Seattle’s backup quarterback.
5:02 p.m.: The Defenders nearly had their third interception of the game. That would have sealed the victory.
4:47 p.m.: The Dragons moved the ball inside the 10-yard line, but a costly fumble ended the drive. Turnovers have been the story of the day so far as Seattle has three total turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble) now.
4:24 p.m.: The Defenders are really starting to pull away now. Dragons QB Brandon Silvers threw his second interception of the game, but this time D.C. returned it for a touchdown on a 69-yard return. The PAT again failed, though. But Defenders now lead 31-19 with 12:43 left in the game.
End of third quarter: Defenders 25, Dragons 19
4:13 p.m.: Cardale Jones finds Rashad Ross on a 31-yard touchdown. But the Defenders failed on their PAT. D.C. now leads Seattle, 25-19.
3:52 p.m.: The second half started off with a BANG! Right after the Defenders’ touchdown, the Dragons scored with a big play of their own. Brandon Silvers found Austin Proehl on a 57-yard touchdown. Proehl now has two scores and 71 yards on the game. Dragons fail on the point after, though, and the game is now tied 19-19.
3:46 p.m.: Cardale Jones finds tight end Khari Lee wide open on a 39-yard touchdown pass for D.C.’s first drive of the second half. It was a trick play with a pair of flea-flickers that seemed to confuse the Dragons defense.The Defenders convert the 1-point PAT after.
Defenders lead, 19-13.
Halftime: Dragons 13, Defenders 12
3:29 p.m.: At halftime, Dragons QB Brandon Silvers is 11 of 19 for 96 yards and two touchdowns. Defenders QB Cardale Jones was 9-of-16 for 90 yards with no touchdowns.
3:28 p.m.: Surprisingly, the Defenders were able to move the ball downfield in a short amount of time to attempt a field goal. Ty Rausa made a 55-yard field goal as time expired. He’s now 2-of-3 on field goals for the day.
3:25 p.m.: Right before halftime, the Dragons were able to find the endzone and convert their PAT. Seattle now has 13 points to D.C.’s 9. Running back Trey Williams caught the touchdown pass from Brandon Silvers.
3:04 p.m.: The Defenders finally score a touchdown. A blocked punt led to a recovery for a touchdown. But D.C. was unable to convert its PAT. Defenders now lead the Dragons, 9-6.
2:53 p.m.: The Defenders attempted a field goal, but missed. On the Dragons’ next drive, Defenders safety Rahim Moore intercepted Brandon Silvers. But D.C. couldn’t do anything on offense and were forced to punt the ball back to Seattle.
2:43 p.m.: The XFL has microphones for coaches and quarterbacks and is allowing their discussions to be broadcast live on air.
End of first quarter: Dragons 6, Defenders 3
2:30 p.m.: Austin Proehl scores the first touchdown in XFL history. The Dragons were able to move the ball down field on the Defenders as Brandon Silvers found Proehl open in the endzone. However, Seattle was unable to convert the PAT. Teams have a chance to go for one one point, two points or three points. Seattle opted for one point from the two yard line and could not convert.
2:22 p.m.: The Defenders get on the board first with a field goal. For trivia buffs later on, Ty Rausa scored the first points in XFL history.
2:21 p.m.: Our first big hit of the XFL is here.
2:20 p.m.: Cardale Jones is already getting MVP chants.
2:15 p.m.: A first look at the new kickoff rules in the XFL.
2:08 p.m.: Ja’Quan Gardner gets the first carry in XFL history.
2:05 p.m.: Interesting stat regarding Cardale Jones.
2:00 p.m.: The game is about to start!
1:30 p.m.: Jacquies Smith of the Dragons honors Kobe Bryant.
1 p.m.: On paper, the Defenders have the clear edge in this game. We picked them to win in our predictions, which you can read more about here. Cardale Jones will be leading the D.C. franchise at quarterback while Seattle is going with Brandon Silvers who had some success in the now defunct AAF. But oddsmakers have the Defenders as a possible favorite to win it all, and have set the over/under on wins for the season at 3.5 for Seattle. Adding on the talent difference is the fact this game is being played at D.C., making the matchup that much more difficult.