It was a must-win situation for the Arlington Renegades to try to bounce back from their loss to St. Louis. They were able to get it done against San Antonio winning on the road 12-10.
Arlington Renegades defense ruled supreme once again coming up with a spectacular performance against the Brahmas’ home crowd. The Renegades held San Antonio to 181 total yards of offense and three turnovers. No one on the Brahmas roster rushed for more than 26 yards in the game.
The offense for Arlington found some life for the first time this season, they had over 250 total yards of offense recording 253 to be exact. Quarterback Kyle Sloter struggled with accuracy throwing one interception in the game and 148 yards. The Renegades’ rushing game had one of their best outings with 119 yards and one touchdown by De’Veon Smith. One key stat for Arlington is winning the time of possession by nine minutes which ended up being the difference in the game.
Winning on the road helps put the Renegades in the driver’s seat for at least second place in the south division at 3-2. It also keeps their hopes alive for first place in the division as they are just one game behind the Houston Roughnecks. This was Arlington’s first road win of the season and the second win where the defense held the opposing offense to ten or fewer points.
How The Arlington Renegades Won
Defense Is the Name of The Game
Two people who have not gotten the recognition they deserve for the performance of the defense: co-defensive coordinators Tim Lewis and Jay Hayes. They have constructed a defense that is not only aggressive but deep in every position. Fans watched a secondary banged up have their three backups (Joe Powell, Shakur Brown, and Darren Evans) record interceptions in the win.
Lewis and Hayes have also gotten great production from their linebacking core thanks to XFL leading tackler Donald Payne continuing his success from the USFL last season with Lewis. The emergence of Willie Taylor has been special to watch over the last two to three weeks as he has become one of their top pass rushers. After being defensive player of the year in the CFL, Darnell Sankey joined the Renegades earlier in the season and has been exceptional against the run.
Speaking of run-stoppers, T.J. Barnes has been superb in applying pressure on the quarterback as well as stopping the rushing attacks. According to Pro Football Focus, Barnes is ranked as the top XFL run defender recording a score of 90.4. Losing over 60 pounds before training camp has paid off for Barnes as he has dominated through the season.
A Breakthrough in The Running Game
It was a collaborative effort by the Renegades on offense, but the running game showed signs of life which have been the missing ingredient all season. They were able to see some runs pop as the team had three runs of over ten yards. De’Veon Smith once again led the team in rushing with 44 yards. Kenneth Farrow wasn’t far behind with 37 yards on the ground. Rannell Hall returned from injury and was able to break out the longest run of the game with a 21-yard run on a reserve. Sloter closed things out with 17 yards on two carries as he had a nice 11-yard run during the game.
Part of the reason the passing game has struggled this season was that they were not able to establish the running game. Despite the team not having many runs that broke loose, fans saw the team get more three to four-yard runs that led to more success. This is something the team will need to build off in the second half of the season.
Another acknowledgment has to come with the improvement of the offensive line. It was a rough beginning for the team, but thanks to the performances of guys like Mike Horton and Garrett McGhin, the line has made good strides in opening up holes on the line for the backs. Sunday’s game was one of the best performances of the season and seem to be hitting their stride at the right time.
Special Teams Continues To Shine
One consistent this Renegades team has been the performance of the special teams with its two leading men getting the job done. Taylor Russolino has only missed one field goal this season converting on the rest of his eight attempts. Marquette King has been so good with his punts that he can run down in coverage and pin the ball exactly where he wants it.
An aspect of the special teams that have improved is Joe Powell returning skills. As XFL fans in 2020 remember, Powell was the first player to return a kickoff for a touchdown that season. He continues to show off his skills by having a 28-yard punt return in the game Sunday to set Arlington up with good field position. There has been a continuous motion of improvement with Powell on these returns where he is getting close to breaking one loose for a touchdown.
Before going into the overall view on the improvement on the offense, this is a clear acknowledgment that the improvements have been minimal. It is worth noting that the yards gained, and the points have gone up each of the last two weeks. The yards have been 178 against Orlando, 240 yards against St. Louis, and 253 yards against San Antonio. As for points, it has been ten against the Guardians, 11 against the Battlehawks, and 12 against the Brahmas. It seems small and maybe not even worth mentioning, but this does show progress.
Co-offensive coordinator Jon Hayes has improved on his playcalling taking more shots down the field and coming up with creative plays. Because of the work he and co-offensive coordinator Chuck Long have done, there is potential for a strong second half to the season for the offense. This didn’t seem possible just two weeks ago after they left Arlington.
Things aren’t perfect and there are still frustrations with the offense, but head coach Bob Stoops deserves a lot of credit for helping the team still win games. They may get a low ranking on the power rankings by the XFL media. Despite all that, they are still winning the games they are supposed to and staying competitive against good teams. Arlington isn’t a championship team, but to be clear, this is a playoff team who will give the team fits because of how they can control the time of possession and their defense aggressive creating turnovers.
Renegades Final Stats
Offensive Player Stats
Defensive Player Stats
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