By Terrance Turner
Despite familiar defensive struggles and a scrappy opposition, the Houston Roughnecks defeated the Dallas Renegades on March 1. The Roughnecks won 27-20 in Arlington, Texas.
Dallas’ offense got off to a terrible start, with quarterback Landry Jones throwing three interceptionos in the first quarter (!!!). Houston was able to score two field goals in the first quarter. Then, early in the second, Houston Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker threw a 6-yard touchdown to running back Nick Holley.
After the play, Houston went for a three-point conversion. Walker ran in himself for the extra three points, giving the Roughnecks a commanding 15-0 lead. Dallas answered quickly, with 6’8″ tight end Donald Parham running into the end zone to score. The touchdown ruling was upheld on review, despite the fact that the ball came out as Parham slammed it onto the turf.
Landry capped the drive with his own two-point conversion. Then Dallas added a 42-yard field goal courtesy of their kicker. Houston tried to add to its lead with a scoring drive. But the drive stalled, and kicker Sergio Castillo missed a 60-yard field goal. The score was 15-11 at the half.
In the third quarter, on third down, Walker extended the lead with a strike to wide receiver Blake Jackson. But the Renegades answered right back, inching down the field (with a series of what commentator Greg Olsen said were repetitions of the same play). Somehow, it worked: Renegades running back Lance Dunbar scored a touchdown with a mere 37 seconds left in the quarter. Then Jones added a successful three-point conversion, firing a bullet to wide receiver Flynn Nagel.
With the score 21-20 as the fourth quarter began, it truly was anybody’s game. And the Renegades appeared to be on the verge of taking the lead. But Landry Jones was sacked by Roughnecks linebacker Edmond Robinson. The linebacker forced a fumble, picked the ball up, and ran into the end zone to score the touchdown.
The Renegades got another chance to win when they got the ball back in the game’s closing minutes. But on a “quarterback sneak” play, Jones suffered a knee injury that left him on the ground, immobilized. Eventually, staff helped him off the field.
Jones’ backup Philip Nelson helped power Dallas to the 3-yard line on 1st and goal. But on 2nd and goal, an incomplete pass landed in the hands of linebacker De’Marquis Gates. As the ball was falling to the ground, Gates scooped it up with one hand, effectively ending the game. It was the Renegades’ fifth turnover of the game. Gates’ interception effectively ended the game, sealing a Roughnecks win.
The Houston Roughnecks remain undefeated at 4-0. They are the only unbeaten team in the XFL.