WASHINGTON — Despite a strong first-half showing, the Seattle Dragons dropped their first divisional game to the Dallas Renegades 24-12 to move their record to 1-2.
The Dragons were up 12-6 at the half with momentum swinging in their direction. Seattle held them to nine yards on four runs in the first half. Dallas changed formations in the second half and swung the pendulum the other way.
“Some of the formations we changed to hopefully give us more of a run game, which it did,” said Renegade head coach Bob Stoop, “but a lot of times, halftime adjustments are a little overrated. You do the same thing with better execution, and people think you made an adjustment. Sometimes it’s just that you play better. We did make a few adjustments, but we also played better.”
Strong First Half by Seattle
It took three-quarters last week for Seattle’s first offensive touchdown, but one drive is all they needed this week. Quarterback Brandon Silvers went mobile to get a key first down that lead to the first score of the game.
“I was more comfortable out there today,” said Silvers.
It was a proud moment for Ricky Prohl as his son celebrated in the end zone. Silvers stood tough in the pocket — Despite taking the hit of three Renegade defenders, completed the 21-yard pass down the middle to Austin Prohl making it 6-0 halfway through the first quarter.
“That’s playing quarterback,” Silvers. “You’re going to stay in the pocket and get hit. I didn’t even see Austin’s touchdown.”
— Seattle Dragons (@XFLDragons) February 22, 2020
Dallas answered back with a long touchdown drive despite a questionable incomplete pass ruling on the field after a loose ball was recovered by the Dragon defense. The 13 play, 82-yard drive was capped by a Jones to Flynn Nagel completion for a 12-yard score. The score would be 6-6 after the first quarter.
Inceptions plague Silvers again as the first turnover of the game came from a Josh Hawkins interception at the Dallas 40 halfway through the second quarter, but Seattle was quick to return the favor. Dragon linebacker Steven Johnson broke up a Jones’ pass, and safety Godwin Igwebuike capitalized with a goal-line interception and returned it to Seattle’s 20.
The Dragons were 7/8 on third down conversions through the first half. Third and six, a 29-yard pass to Prohl kept the drive alive that would lead to Seattle pulling ahead. Silvers took to the air again later in the drive to running back Kenneth Farrow down the middle for a 19-yard score. After another failed point-after conversion, the score was 12-6.
— Seattle Dragons (@XFLDragons) February 22, 2020
Dragon corner Channing Stribling stopped the Renegades’ efforts to rebuttal with Seattle’s second interception of the game.
Dallas Secures Win in Second Half
“I was glad to see us get things smoothed out in the second half,” said Stoop. “We used the two-back set.”
Between the fact that the Dragon defense didn’t get rest, as well as Dallas ran for over 90 yards in the second half to open up the field, Seattle wouldn’t score again. Back to back scores by Dallas would lead to a hole that the Dragons couldn’t climb out of.
In their first possession of the game, Dallas tied up the game with a 12-play, 62-yard drive that ended with Jones’ 6’8″ target of Donald Parnham on a 10-yard connection. Parnham went 5/7 with 101 yards and two touchdowns. That score was the beginning of the end.
“We killed our defense going three and outs and them not being able to rest,” said Silvers on the offense in the second half. “You see what their offense did to our defense when they were tired and that’s on us.”
Three and out: A 15 yard rush by Dallas running back Cameron Artis-Payne set up kicker Austin MacGinnis for a 19-yard field goal to make give the Renegades the 15-12 upper hand.
Three and out: Parnham added an impressive 65-yard touchdown for the Renegades to widen the gap 21-12.
More like Donald STARham
The big man is on 🔥
— XFL (@xfl2020) February 23, 2020
“Obviously we’re targeting him and finding his spots,” said Stoop about Parnham. “I’m sure Landry likes seeing him. That’s a big wingspan.”
Three and out: The Dragons’ defense created a glimmer of hope when Marcell Frazier laid Seattle’s lone sack of the game, forced a fumbled, and recovered that fumble at the Dallas 32 with over six minutes left in the game. However, the offense turned over on downs as fans started clearing the stadium before the final whistle.
Marcell Frazier forced fumble pic.twitter.com/6L3a31BjRV
— Arif Hasan, paid to blog 📝 (@ArifHasanNFL) February 23, 2020
“When the defense got the turnover in the fourth quarter, we just didn’t convert on any of the plays and that just really hurt us,” said Silvers. “We were still in the game, and that’s really disappointing when our defense gave us the ball back in their territory and that really killed me not being able to put some points on the board.”
Seattle was within one scoring play until a Dallas field goal with 47 seconds left put the game out of reach. Dallas handed the Dragons their first home and divisional loss 24-12.
“I felt like we called our defense well, but I think when watching the video that we are going to find someone losing the contain,” said head coach Jim Zorn. “We had the point of attack well in hand but the backs, their backs, did a wonderful job of seeing it and going somewhere else and us losing contain. It wasn’t like they were pounding us. Their backs did a great job of making an adjustment to that particular play, much like a great scrambling quarterback.”
This was the first time the Dragons seemed to have rhythm and confidence. The Dragons had 300 total offensive yards — 205 of those came in the first half alone. In last week’s victory, Seattle had 199 total yards in the whole game.
Despite the desolate second half, the Dragons had some big conversions. It came from the run game. It came from the passing game. It came from Silvers being mobile.
Prohl finished the day 6/7 with a team-high 81 yards and a touchdown while Silvers was 21/34 for 204 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
Overall, the defense stood the test of Dallas’ air raid offense. The defense forced three turnovers versus the Renegades’ one. Too much time on the field combined with the high tempo of the game helped Dallas find the cracks from an otherwise strong defensive game.
Johnson finished with a personal game-high 14 combined tackles.
Around the League
The Houston Roughnecks secured their third win of the season with a 34-27 win over the Tampa Bay Vipers. PJ Walker and Cam Phillips led the deadly Houston offense. The Vipers have to be happy putting 27 points on the board, but Walker’s 306 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, and four total touchdown performance combined with Phillips’ eight reception, 194 yards, and three touchdown effort didn’t give Tampa a chance in their home opener.
With Houston as the clear number one team and Dallas (2-1) pulling ahead of Seattle (1-2) for the number two team in the West, Seattle has to put the pieces together moving forward.
“You got to be top two in your division to make it to the playoffs,” said Dragon wide receiver and captain Keenan Reynolds, “so every game is important.”
Seattle is on the road next week as they head to St. Louis to face the Battlehawks.
Complete stats from Saturday’s game can be found HERE.