In front of another electric crowd in St. Louis of over 35,000 fans, the Battlehawks kept up a bit short in their battle against the DC Defenders. With the opportunity to tie for first place in the Northern Division, the Battlehawks came up short Saturday night at the dome, losing 28-20 and falling to 3-2 at the midway point in the XFL season. Despite dynamic performances from multiple players on offense, one of the main storylines looking back at week 5 for St. Louis will be the abundance of penalties (10) the Battlehawks suffered, in addition to not being able to finish drives when given great field position by Kick Returner Darrius Shepherd.
Battlehawks Key Performers
Carson Wells Linebacker
I’ve been high on Wells for weeks. The versatile Linebacker totaled 6 Six Tackles with 3 of them being for loss. Wells’ value goes far beyond the stat line as he’s constantly able to play all-over the field lining up on the edge, in addition to playing a more traditional Linebacker role.
Steven Mitchell Wide Receiver
Mitchell who has been dealing with injuries the whole season, has stepped up in a big way for St. Louis with Marcel Ateman with being placed on the Battlehawks reserve list. Mitchell has done a great job in stretching the field for the Battlehawks, allowing Darrius Shepherd to find more openings underneath. In addition to Mitchell’s Touchdown, he capped off the drive by converting the Battlehawks two-point conversion bringing St. Louis within one score with the game on the line.
Darrius Shepherd Wide Receiver
Shepherd has been on tear this whole season, in the return game and hasn’t done a bad job as the Battlehawks WR2. Recently, Shepherd was named to Mike Mitchell’s mid-season All-XFL team and is showing no signs of slowing down. With another 185 All-Purpose Yards in week 5, Shepherd is on pace for 1,520 All-Purpose yards this season and could break 1,000 with another big performance this weekend.
The Battlehawks move two games back of the Defenders with their loss in week 5. After a promising start to the game that began with a heroic goal line stand, the Defenders rushing attack bullied their wat to 248 yards on the ground led by Running Back Abram Smith who accounted for 218 on his own.
While A.J. McCarron continued to perform as one of the XFL’s top Quarterbacks, at the time offense looked a bit flat, and looked more focus on throwing the ball in the flats rather that attacking Gregg Williams’ Defense vertically.
McCarron, assisted by offensive standouts Brian Hill, and Hakeem Butler, did manage to sustain some successful offensive drives, on 4 of their 11 drives, failed to score touchdowns twice, when starting in DC territory in the second and third quarters.
On Defense, St. Louis continued to have issues tackling. Many times, DC Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu, was able to shed would be Battlehawks defenders, and extend plays changing a -7-yard play, to a positive gain. In the past Coach Becht during press conferences has harped on the importance of the Defense finishing the play and the Defenders took full advantage of that this past Saturday.
St. Louis does have the luxury of being able to go to Cashman Field in week 6 to take on Vegas, who despite earning their first victory against the Guardians sport a 1-4 record. The Battlehawks will play Saturday at March 25th, at 6 P.M. Central, with the game being televised on FX/ESPN+.
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