By Anthony Vieira, Jr.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – A week after dominating the New York Guardians, the DC Defenders actually found themselves on the receiving end of a 39-9 blowout loss to the Los Angeles Wildcats on Sunday.
For the Defenders (2-1), it was the club’s first game away from the friendly confines of Audi Field. But much like Saturday night’s Wilder-Fury bout, this game was over before it even started. Los Angeles scored touchdowns on four of its first six possessions and finished the game without committing a single turnover.
The Defenders; meanwhile, did nothing but turn the ball over. Cardale Jones tossed four interceptions and was uncharacteristically off-target on an afternoon in which the offense was clearly out of sync.
The Wildcats (1-2), in danger of falling to 0-3, played like a team with its back against the wall from the start. On the first possession of the game, Wildcats’ quarterback Josh Johnson found wide receiver Tre McBride for a 40-yard touchdown pass to take an early 6-0 lead.
The Defenders tried to answer, but Cardale Jones threw an interception that was returned to the DC 42-yard line. Two possessions later, Jones tossed his second interception of the afternoon which led to a short field for the Wildcats and a 1-yard touchdown by running back Larry Rose III.
Leading 14-0 with 8:28 to play in the second quarter, Josh Johnson found Tre McBride again for a 28-yard touchdown and 20-0 lead. Things went from bad to worse for DC when its punt was blocked by safety Jack Tocho. That block set up a 1-yard touchdown run for running back Carter Marquez and a 27-0 lead.
The Defenders managed to get a field goal before halftime and looked poised to score again early in the third quarter, but Cardale Jones’ third interception of the game ended the drive. The Wildcats then drove 96 yards, capped by an 18-yard front flip touchdown reception by Carter Marquez to take an insurmountable 33-3 lead.
DC’s defense, which until this game hadn’t allowed its opponents to score on an opening possession, had no answers for the Wildcats’ offense. Josh Johnson finished the day with 278 yards and three touchdowns.
In the wake of DC’s defeat, the Houston Roughnecks (3-0) are now the XFL’s only unbeaten team. While some may be quick to write the Defenders off, coach Pep Hamilton expects his team to regroup. “We have a high character team. We’re going to get back to D.C. and get ready for our next opponent.”
The Defenders will have to regroup quickly as next week features a road trip to Tampa, Florida and a matchup with yet another desperate team that was competitive against Houston.
WEEK 4 SCHEDULE
Los Angeles Wildcats: At New York Guardians (1-2) Saturday, Feb. 29.
DC Defenders: At Tampa Bay Vipers (0-3) Sunday, Mar. 1.