St. Louis BattleHawks (3-1) vs Seattle Dragons (1-3)
@ The Dome at America’s Center
Over/Under: 38.5 (Hit at 39)
The St. Louis BattleHawks were back at home this Saturday afternoon fresh off of a statement win in their home debut to take on the 1-2 Seattle Dragons. Many questions surrounded the visiting Seattle team as they started their incumbent Brandon Silvers against arguably the hottest defense in the XFL this season. However, this go-round Silvers wouldn’t last the entire game and was replaced at halftime by former USF standout, BJ Daniels.
Daniels gave life to a Seattle team that fell victim to another hot start by the BattleHawks who have proved themselves as a tough customer to beat at home. St. Louis established early that they were a more versatile team than their league-leading rushing game would suggest.
Jordan Ta’amu found De’Mornay Pierson-El for a 27-yard strike over the middle to start the proceedings and followed up with a toss to Marcus Lucas in the corner to put the home squad up 8-0 early.
Follow that up with more issues from the Silvers and the Seattle offense and a 48-yard boot from XFL News Hub’s special teams player of the week Taylor Russolino, and the BattleHawks ended the first quarter with an 11-0 lead much to the delight of a 27,527 person crowd that packed the BattleDome for a second consecutive week.
Seattle had some help from an errant Russolino kickoff that gave them field position on the BattleHawk 45, but could only eek out a 41 yard field goal to cut the lead to 8. In response, Jordan Ta’amu and company led a 12 play and 78 yard drive capped by a Keith Ford touchdown despite bobbling the option toss in the air for what seemed to be a full minute in real time. St. Louis failed the conversion to put themselves up 17-3 going into the half.
Then the game got REALLY interesting.
Seattle opted to go with BJ Daniels to start the 2nd half and you could feel the momentum change in the air. The once sure-tackling defense of St. Louis seemed to show the same signs of trouble against the dual threat attack that had reared it’s ugly head against PJ Walker and the Houston Roughnecks. Daniels took Seattle 65 yards down the field and finished with a 1 yard handoff to Kenneth Farrow to give the Dragons their first touchdown and trim the lead to 7.
After another chipshot from Taylor Russolino, Daniels again made plays with his feet and kept the tired BattleHawk defense guessing and marched down the field with ease. After a failed 3 point attempt following a Daniels to Rodriguez connection, the home team found themselves needing to start matching points as the score was now 20-16.
But as the St. Louis running game sputtered with Matt Jones showing some rust after not playing all week, Jordan Ta’amu came up when it mattered. Ta’amu took advantage of the time he was given in the pocket as he drove his guys down the field to set up a third Taylor Russolino field goal to put the home favorites up 7.
Daniels was up to steal the show. But he just couldn’t finish the job. The BattleHawks rode the home crowd’s energy and defensive captain Will Hill came up with his second game-sealing interception of the season. Ta’amu’s offense finished strong by converting first down after first down to milk the clock down to zero. The final score from the dome: St. Louis wins 23-16.
St. Louis BattleHawks
The BattleHawks finally let the “Throwin’ Samoan” loose. Jordan Ta’amu picked up the slack for a league-leading rushing attack that just couldn’t get going today. I’ve been calling for more Ta’amu and we finally got to see what St. Louis has from the quarterback position when it came to winning time. The BattleHawks faced adversity for the first time in a couple weeks and again the defense leaned on their veteran presence on defense to ice the game just as they did in week 1’s victory over the Renegades.
Jordan Ta’amu (QB)
Ta’amu showed his worth today completing 74% of his passes for 264 yards and a touchdown while adding another 63 yards on the ground. Easily the most dynamic offensive player on the field today.
Matt Jones (RB)
Matt Jones was a very limited participant in practice all week and I think it showed. Jones carried the ball 15 times for only 20 yards as it seemed obvious that both Seattle had keyed on stopping the run, and Matt Jones wasn’t himself. It’ll be interesting to see if Keith Ford doesn’t get more carries next week.
Will Hill (S)
O captain my captain. Will the thrill Hill iced the game with another one of his late game interceptions to stop the surging Seattle offense when it seemed like BJ Daniels could do no wrong. So far Hill and Kenny Robinson have started to create a bit of a no fly zone over the middle of the field.
Seattle may have dropped to a disappointing 1-3 but that’s not to say they are without some positives to look at. They put points up on the board with relative ease in the second half against a league-leading defense when they finally gave the reigns to BJ Daniels. The real question remaining is where their production is going to come from in regards to their receiving corps. Only one receiver had multiple receptions today.
Brandon Silvers (QB)
I think it might be safe to say that you played your way out of a job sir. Multiple people were calling for Silvers to be ousted before this game even kicked off. He did little to quiet those critics going 4-10 for only 27 yards in the first half which prompted his coaching staff to go in a different direction starting the second half.
BJ Daniels (QB)
The biggest surprise of the game for sure. Every time Daniels touched the ball, good things happened until the late game interception. Daniels put up 100 yards through the air and another 84 on the ground through only a half of work. I’ll be interested to see if those numbers continue with another week of practice under his belt and a full game to assess him. I mean… He has to start next week right?
Jordan Ta’amu was the fantasy player of the game for me. He did it consistently through the air and on the ground. 327 total yards of offense and a touchdown to boot? It’s hard not to call that a successful day at the office.
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