Vipers vs. Renegades recap-The game that had it all
12,047 fans gathered to watch the return of the XFL as the Arlington Renegades and Vegas Vipers took the field in their highly anticipated return. Dany Garcia, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Redbird Capital Partners CEO Gerry Cardinale, who resurrected the spring league after it was shelved during the Covid shutdown, gathered to soak in the moment. They spent a moment thanking the fans and reminding these young men of the opportunity before them.
The spring league, referred to as XFL 3.0, has a large following of die-hard and knowledgeable fans. Those who waited over a year and a half for its return were rewarded with a game that had it all.
The Vipers received the opening kickoff, which differs from traditional football. Both teams line up 5 yards apart with the receiving team lining up on their own 30 and the kicking team on the 35-yard line. Having teams line up this close minimizes high-speed, head-down collisions, while still promoting returns.
Vipers QB Luis Perez (who played in XFL 2.0 for the NY Guardians) led his team on a smooth opening drive; ending with the inaugural score to Jeff Badet. The Vipers couldn’t connect on the point after attempt, there is no kicking of extra points. Teams get the option to score 1 point from the 2-yard line, 2 points from the 5-yard line, or 3 points from the 10-yard line.
The Renegades’ initial drive featured a replay that showed the transparency of the new league. Officials on camera were mic’d up and came to a quick determination. This allows teams and viewers at home to maintain momentum. The Renegades settled for a field goal as the Vipers held them out of the endzone.
The first quarter moved quickly. The XFL uses a 35-second play clock keeping a good flow and a fast-paced game.
After the first quarter, the score was 6-3 Vipers.
In the second quarter, Luis Perez hit Badet once again, this time for a 39-yard strike. The TD was followed by the first successful 2-point conversion to increase the lead to 14-3. Both defenses stiffened up in the second quarter. Vegas forced the Renegades to turn the ball over on downs with just over 2 minutes left before halftime.
With the Vipers content to run out the clock, consecutive penalties and a pass breakup on 3rd and 12 forced them to punt. Arlington, with the ball back and an opportunity to utilize the “comeback period”, threw an interception. This allowed the Vipers to then drive inside the 5-yard line. Unable to capitalize, Vegas missed a short field goal attempt. That ended the half with a score of Arlington 3-Vegas 14.
Arlington opened the second half with possession but failed to capitalize after fumbling on 4th down. Giving the Vipers the ball on their own 30, the Renegades’ defense stepped up with a pick-6 by linebacker Tomas Laulile. Arlington moved closer but another failed extra-point attempt hurt.
Seizing on the swing in momentum Arlington got within the 10-yard line. But once again, they failed to score a touchdown. They converted on a field goal closing the gap to just 2 points.
The Vipers ended their next drive with a punt. Punter Michael Carrizosa dropped the snap, scooped up the ball, and scrambled. He ended up one yard short of the line to gain. The Vipers’ defense once again held the Renegades out of the endzone holding them to another field goal, ending the 3rd quarter Renegades 15 vipers 14.
After forcing Las Vegas to punt, Arlington began to move the ball. Converting a pass on 4th and short, followed by a big run by QB Drew Plitt, landed Arlington inside Vegas’ 20. The Vipers’ defense once again held firm, forcing a turnover on downs. Luis Perez threw yet another pick 6 providing more defensive scoring for a team that couldn’t punch it in on offense. A successful one-point conversion finally gave Arlington the lead.
Vegas moved the ball down with a big chunk play of 40 yards to put them within striking distance with less than a minute to play. After another short pass for a 1st down, the Vipers were down to a 3rd and 10 from the 20-yard line of Arlington. With just seconds left, Perez hits Cinque Swinton for a huge touchdown. That TD put them within a successful 2-point conversion of overtime. On the ensuing two-point conversion, Luis Perez, who faced only a three-man rush, was sacked and had the ball knocked loose ending that possession.
Utilizing the XFL “onside conversion”, rule the Vipers attempted a 4th and 15 from their own 25. If successful they would’ve been allowed to keep possession of the ball and continue to drive with 8 seconds left. However, they failed to convert the try which ended the thrilling game.
Final–Arlington 22 Las Vegas 20