n a highly unexpected finish, the Arlington Renegades have secured the first XFL championship in 22 years, defeating the top-seeded D.C. Defenders with a final score of 35-26. The game, held at the Alamodome in San Antonio, attracted an official attendance of 22,754 passionate fans, witnessing the first championship since the Million Dollar Game in 2001, where the LA Xtreme, led by league MVP Tommy Maddox, bested the San Francisco Demons 38-6.
The Renegades entered the game as underdogs, carrying a regular-season record of 4-6 against the formidable 9-1 Defenders. However, the Renegades, led by a stellar performance from quarterback Luis Perez, seized control of the game from the start. Perez connected on 26 of 36 passes for a total of 288 yards, with three touchdown passes and no interceptions, earning him the game’s MVP honor.
Arlington’s receiver Tyler Vaughns led the team in receiving with eight receptions for 83 yards and one touchdown. Sal Cannella and Leddie Brown each added a touchdown, with Brown also contributing 32 yards on the ground.
In contrast, the Defenders struggled to find their rhythm. Despite a respectable performance by quarterback Jordan Ta’amu, who completed 16 of 30 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns, his three costly interceptions proved detrimental to the team’s chances. Abram Smith was the standout player for the Defenders, rushing for 90 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Josh Hammond led the receiving corps with six receptions for 127 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, the Renegades forced three turnovers, with interceptions by Brandon Rusnak, Cre’Von LeBlanc, and Joe Powell, while the Defenders failed to secure any. Despite this, Santos Ramirez of the Defenders led all players with ten total tackles.
Special teams also played a crucial role in the Renegades victory. Kicker Taylor Russolino was perfect on the day, making all three of his field goal attempts, with a long of 51 yards.
The game was a fitting end to a successful season for the revived XFL, with the Renegades etching their name in the history books as the first champions since 2001. The league and its fans will be eagerly looking forward to the 2024 season.
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