Cardale Jones, DC Defenders Win Thrilling XFL Opener

What a way to kick off a league. In what might go down as an instant-classic in XFL history, Cardale Jones and the DC Defenders overtook Brandon Silvers and the Seattle Dragons. This game was thrilling from start to finish and is hopefully a sign of things to come for this upstart league.

Cardale Jones, DC Defenders Win XFL Opener [Highlights, Recap]

First Quarter

Brandon Silvers and the Seattle Dragons got the ball to start the XFL season. However, the offense couldn’t get anything going and had to punt after three plays. Cardale Jones and the DC Defenders took over from there. Jones had a few impressive throws on the drive, notably converting a 3rd and 11 on an absolute gem to Rashad Ross. However, the team couldn’t convert in the red zone and had to settle for the first field goal in XFL history.

Silvers and the Dragons answered with a scoring drive of their own. The former Memphis Express quarterback orchestrated a fantastic drive culminating in a touchdown pass to Austin Proehl. However, prior to that pass, Silvers dropped an absolute dime down the sideline to Dontez Byrd.

Now facing a deficit, Cardale Jones and company went back to work. Once again, the former Ohio State star made an impressive third-and-long conversion to keep the drive alive. However, for the second straight drive, DC stalled in their own red zone and had to settle for a field goal attempt. Unfortunately, kicker Ty Rausa missed the 35-yard attempt and Seattle kept their 6-3 lead.

Second Quarter

Brandon Silvers played a clean game for the most part, but he made one terrible mistake. The Troy product stared down his read, and former Denver Broncos safety Rahim Moore stepped in front of the pass for the easy interception.

DC couldn’t do anything with their extra possession and had to punt. Seattle did the same three plays later, but special teams came up with a huge play. With Seattle trapped in their own endzone, the Defenders blocked the punt and recovered it in the endzone for the first touchdown in franchise history.

Both teams struggled to move the ball until the final few minutes of the second quarter. Facing a 4th and 8 with under two minutes left, Seattle decided to go for a new set of downs. That decision paid off, as Silvers found running back Kenneth Farrow for a new set of downs. Two plays later, Silvers connected with Trey Williams for a 13-yard touchdown. Just like that, the Dragons took a 13-9 lead with 20 seconds left on the clock. 20 seconds proved to be too much time, as the Defenders drove into field goal position and Ty Rausa drilled a 55-yard field goal to make it 13-12 entering the half.

Third Quarter

DC got the ball to start the second half and came out on fire. Going 78 yards in eight plays, DC retook the lead thanks to some t trickery. The end result was a 39-yard touchdown to tight end Khari LeeDonnell Pumphrey converted the one-point conversion and the Defenders took a 19-13 lead.

The Dragons matched DC’s big touchdown pass with one of their own. After slowly going down the field, Brandon Silvers masterfully evaded some pressure and stepped up in the pocket. At first, it looked like he was going to take off for a quick scramble. However, Silvers released a quick pass at the last second to a wide-open Austin Proehl. Proehl secured the ball and took it 57 yards to tie it up at 19.

After exchanging punts, DC went back on the offensive. Starting at their own 45, the Defenders found themselves facing a 4th and 6 from Seattle 31. Rather than attempt a difficult field goal, the Defenders chose to go for the first down. That decision proved to be wise, as Jones connected with Rashad Ross for a 31-yard touchdown on a beautiful sideline pattern.

Fourth Quarter

The Seattle Dragons desperately needed a score to stay in the game and Brandon Silvers threw yet another touchdown pass. Unfortunately, this one went to the wrong team. In fairness, you can’t really blame Silvers for this one. Trying to connect on a quick out, Silvers’ receiver fell mid-route but not before the quarterback released the ball. The result was one of the easiest pick-sixes in recent memory, as Brandon Sylve ran untouched into the endzone.

Now trailing by 10, the Dragons immediately took to the air. Silvers led his team all the way down to the DC 24 before settling for a field goal. The kick was good, but Seattle kept their drive alive thanks to a roughing the kicker penalty. Given a fresh set of downs, Seattle made it down to the five-yard line before facing a 4th and 1. Rather than taking the points, the Dragons successfully went for the first down. Seattle was now three yards away from making this a one-score game, but Ja’Quan Gardner fumbled the first-down carry. DC recovered and now had the ball and a 12-point lead with just under five minutes to play.

The Dragons got the ball back, but it was too little, too late. With the win, the Defenders officially earn the title of the winningest team in XFL history.

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