A brisk sunny precursor to Spring time in the Pacific Northwest brought us a third consecutive Sea Dragons nail-biter. It also brought the Houston Roughnecks’ first loss of this latest and previous 2.0 XFL iteration.
In what continues to be Seattle’s greatest advantage, the Sea Dragons’ defense comes out firing on all cylinders. As Houston begins the Thursday night contest on offense, they complete one pass for a first down. That was followed by an undeniable reminiscence style of play by Brandon Silvers back in 2020. Two incomplete passes and a sack by Austin Faoliu for a 5-yard loss forced the punt.
Seattle, now on offense, finds themselves fighting Houston’s defensive prowess. The Houston defense showcasing how their 4-0 start to the season is attributed to great execution on both sides of the ball. The Sea Dragons complete one first down in six plays and then are relegated to punt from their own 40-yard line. Again, shutting down the league’s highest-scoring offense wasn’t good enough for the Sea Dragons. Alijah Holder skirts the edge to get a block on the punt, ensuring excellent field position on the Roughnecks’ 46-yard line.
Seattle marches down from that half-field starting point with a balanced pass-and-run approach to find the endzone on a ballsy run from DiNucci. The tried-though-rarely-true 3-point conversion, unsuccessful, puts the Sea Dragons on the board first with a score of 6-0.
The remainder of the first half brought on some high-intensity, fast-paced ‘OK Coral’ gunslinger-style action. With Houston back on offense and looking as legit as ever, a Roughnecks’ touchdown was called back on an offensive holding call. (It was almost challenged – afterward deemed un-reversible). Followed shortly after by Seattle’s Antoine Brooks’s forced fumble and the Sea Dragons’ recovery. Houston’s drive was stymied.
Another shot in the foot by Seattle’s Ben DiNucci, who threw up an errant ball for Houston’s Sean Davis to pick and return for 28 yards. The Roughnecks again take over on offense. Utilizing more than five minutes of the clock they come up empty-handed. The ensuing Sea Dragons drive was clogged on the ground game but wide open through the air.
Completed receptions by Jahcour Pearson – times two, Damion Willis, Juwan Green, and then Willis again for the touchdown, boosted the score to 15-0 after a successful 3-point conversion from DiNucci to Green.
The defensive showcase continues to take center stage through the third quarter. The defense punctuates their performance with yet another blocked punt. This time by Seattle’s Tuzar Skipper, recovered by Rojesterman Farris.
On we go to the fourth quarter. Nearly six minutes in, what happens? You know, another fumble. Seattle’s Morgan Ellison coughs up the ball for the team’s 12th turnover of the season. Houston wastes very little time taking advantage of that, getting to the endzone from the Seattle 25-yard line. Their first points of the game. A missed 2-point conversion puts the score at 15-6.
Nearing the halfway point in the fourth quarter as the Sea Dragons were making what seemed to be a smooth progression toward the endzone to pad their lead, DiNucci and Gordon were certainly not on the same page. Whether a miscommunication, unseen interference, or a bad read, the result was another interception.
A hurried four and out later, Seattle takes over on downs. And with a run-heavy drive, the Sea Dragons find the endzone again. This time on a Darius Bradwell 3-yard run. With the missed 3-point attempt, the score sits at 21-6. With Houston down by 15, two scoring drives, along with a conversion or two, are a must to stay in this game. And in less than one minute, they got a nice chunk of those points, adding 8 from a Justin Smith 47-yard reception, along with a successful 2-point conversion. The score is now a 7-point deficit.
You either love the option of what happens next or you despise it. Either way, we all know what’s coming… 4th and 15 on their own 25-yard line, the Roughnecks line up and complete a pass from Silvers to Burnett.
With a fresh set of downs and one time-out to burn, one thing is for certain, everyone watching is captivated by what they are witnessing on the field. The Roughnecks need 68 yards, and at least 7 points. Oh, and they’ve got to do it in 13 seconds or less.
Silvers takes the snap and has to step up into the pocket trying to give his receivers time to get open. Finds a man downfield, pulls back to launch the ball, and has it batted out of his grip by Sea Dragons DL Elijah Ponder. With the ball in the air, Seattle’s other DL Niko Lalos hauls it in and goes to the ground.
The Sea Dragons in fitting fashion get their third win in a row with the final score of 21-14.