In their inaugural game in Los Angeles, the L.A. Wildcats fell to the Dallas Renegades 18-25. What started out as a defense-riddled bout, ended in a high-scoring fourth quarter.
Los Angeles quarterback Josh Johnson made 18 slings for 196 yards, executing two touchdowns. Dallas signal caller Landry Jones made 28 passes for 305 yards and one touchdown.
“I missed throws that I should make,” Johnson said. “I just got to get back on the tape and see what I can do better next week.”
The @XFLWildcats lost to the @XFLRenegades 18-25. Wildcats wideout Nelson Spruce made two TD receptions. Dallas rusher Cameron Artis-Payne had two TD rushes @xfl2020 #ForTheLoveOfFootball pic.twitter.com/6duEAPOJWZ
— L.A. Sentinel News (@thelasentinel) February 17, 2020
The final minutes exposed the 14,979 attendees and viewers at home the unique conversion attempts that only the XFL offers. After scoring a touchdown, teams can go for a one, two or three-point conversion.
In their final scoring drive, the Wildcats elected to attempt a three-point conversion, their offensive line had to start from 10 yards out and run into the endzone. Johnson targeted wide receiver Adonis Jennings to complete the conversion.
That reduced the Wildcats deficit from 10 points to one with 4:37 left in the fourth quarter.
“You’re never really out of it until the clock runs out just because you can go down, get nine points,” said Wildcats wide receiver Nelson Spruce. “Those conversions are gonna be big going forward and I think they’re gonna decide a lot of games.”
Dallas made three touchdowns and elected for one-point conversions each time. In this case, the offense runs a play to get in the endzone from the 2-yard line. Los Angeles only allowed the Renegades one successful one-point conversion.
Dallas running back Cameron Artis-Payne moved their offense across the field to score with 1:14 left in the game to outlast the Wildcats. He finished the day with 14 carries for 99 yards and two touchdowns.
“We went into halftime, figured some things out, seen some looks we liked,” Artis-Payne said. “We came out and executed; offensive line was great. As a team, we played well.”
Spruce rallied for the Wildcats with nine catches for 89 yards and two touchdowns. His former teammates Melvin Gordon of the Chargers and Todd Gurley of the Rams watched his scoring plays from the sidelines.
However, the downfall for the Wildcats was their turnovers. The Wildcats fumbled on a first-and-goal twice, with the Renegades gaining possession and getting a field goal in both occasions.
“Turnovers are such a big deal, it’s such a momentum change,” said Wildcats head coach Winston Moss. “Turnovers are always something that is a detriment to any team’s success.”
The first half was a defensive shutout, no team scored until the last minutes of the second quarter.
An interception by Wildcats corner Harlan Miller was the highlight of a highly defensive first quarter. The Wild Cats quickly rushed the Renegades offense off the field to be restricted to their half of the field by the Dallas defense.
After the Wildcats’ first crucial fumble, the Dallas offense charged down field until Renegades tight end Donald Parham fumbled after a tackle, Wildcats defensive tackle Reggie Howard recovered to the joy of the fans.
With 2:49 left in the second quarter, the Wildcats got on the scoreboard with a field goal. Dallas rallied swiftly across the field, but only able to get a field goal to end the first half.
The Wildcats are currently fourth in the XFL West.
On February 23, the Wildcats will battle the D.C. Defenders at the Dignity Health Sports Park at 3:00 p.m. PST.