Roughnecks Surge for First Win in Team History


The 100th anniversary season of the NFL ended with the Kansas City Chiefs winning the Super Bowl LIV on Feb. 2, but unlike every other year that doesn’t mean football is over until next season.

This past weekend the revamped XFL league kicked off its inaugural season with two games on Feb. 8 and Feb. 9.

The Houston Roughnecks took their first home victory, 37-17, over the Los Angeles Wildcats.


In the XFL as opposed to the NFL, the kickoff takes place with the kicker kicking the ball from the 30-yard line and he must kick the ball in the air to the opponent’s 20-yard line. The XFL rules state that each team must have three players outside the hash marks on both sides of the ball and they cannot move until the ball is caught by the returner.  The players can move after the ball is caught or three seconds after it touches the ground.  The XFL also has a few other rule differences in the placement of the ball depending on where the ball lands. Kicks that fall short of the 20-yard line will result in a penalty and places the ball at the opponent’s 45-yard line.

Houston started the game with possession of the ball and quickly put up the first points of the game when P.J. Walker connected with Cam Phillips for a deep 50-yard touchdown pass and six points.  The Roughnecks chose to attempt a one-point attempt after touchdown but were not successful and the score was 6-0 with just 1;15 shaved off of the clock.


In the NFL the teams either attempt a kick for the extra point after a touchdown, or a two-point conversion, but in the XFL the team has an opportunity to choose to attempt a one-point, two-point or three-point rush into the endzone following the score depending on whether they choose to place the ball from the two, five, and 10-yard lines respectively.

Los Angeles responded with a touchdown in their opening drive as well when quarterback Charles Kanoff rushed five yards for the score. The Wildcats attempted a two-point attempt after the touchdown, and Smallwood caught the ball for two extra points and Los Angeles took the lead, 8-6.

Both teams traded downs for the rest of the first quarter and the score remained the same, although the Roughnecks did have a missed field goal attempt when Sergio Castillo kicked wide left on a 40-yard attempt.

The Roughnecks had possession when the second quarter began, but they were unable to produce any points in this opening drive. The Wildcats’ opening drive was also fruitless, but in their following drive, Kanoff connected with Jordan Smallwood for an 11-yard touchdown. Los Angeles again attempted the two-point PAT option, and but were unable to score the extra points in this attempt.


Houston also put up a touchdown in their next possession when Walker and James Butler connected for the 16-yard score. Houston decided to attempt the two points after the touchdown but was unsuccessful and Los Angeles kept the two-point lead and possession of the ball until Nick Novak kicked a 35-yard field goal to extend the Wildcats lead to five points, 17-12.

Houston finished out their final play of the first half with a 39-yard touchdown catch between Walker and Sam Mobley and the two-point attempt following the touchdown failed, yet the Roughnecks had a one-point lead going into halftime, 18-17.

The Wildcats had the ball to start the second half of the game and were unable to convert their first down into more points on the board, but Houston did turn their first possession into a touchdown when Walker passed the ball four yards to Kahlil Lewis for the score. Houston chose to attempt the two points after the touchdown yet another time, however this time the attempt was successful, and the score was 26-17 with nine minutes left in the third quarter.

Los Angeles was unable to put any points up in the third quarter and the score remained the same going into the final quarter of the game. The Wildcats had possession to start the fourth quarter, but it became apparent they had scored their last points in the second quarter as they failed to put any points up in the fourth quarter either.

Houston put up another touchdown when Butler rushed for the four-yard score and Lewis caught the ball in the two-point attempt which gave the Roughnecks a 20-point lead over the Wildcats. Both teams exchanged downs for the rest of the game and Houston won their first franchise game with a 37-17 victory over Los Angeles, giving them their first defeat of the season.

Butler put up 30 yards and a touchdown for the team-high in rushing yards and Walker recorded 26 rushing yards and 272 passing yards for four touchdowns, one interception and a rating of 103.8 for his first game. Phillips led the team with 67 rushing yards and a touchdown, while Lewis, Mobley, and Butler also put receiving touchdowns in the record books.



Houston will host the St. Louis BattleHawks next week and Los Angeles will host the Dallas Renegades in their first home game at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Los Angles, Cali.



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