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Battlehawks Earn Home-Field in XFL Championship With Win

© Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

In an XFL Conference Championship preview, the St. Louis Battlehawks (7-3) outlasted the San Antonio Brahmas (7-3) 13-12 at The Dome at America's Center on Saturday. The win secured home-field for the Battlehawks in the XFL Conference Championship game, which will take place on June 9.

Quarterback AJ McCarron made his return from injury to defeat a Brahmas side with unfortunate injuries stacked on top of each other.

Battlehawks vs. Brahmas Game Summary

Throughout the first half, the defense was the focal point on both sides. At the end of the first quarter, Brahmas QB Chase Garbers was picked off on a tipped pass by Battlehawks cornerback Kameron Kelly but could not get much going on their next drive. After turning the ball over, Brahmas running back Morgan Ellison fumbled the ball inside the Battlehawks' 10-yard line, and it was recovered by safety Dravon Askew-Henry with 51 seconds left.

However, the Battlehawks failed to take advantage of great field position, with McCarron throwing an interception on a pass tipped at the line to CB Teez Tabor. The Brahmas ended up punting on this drive, setting up the Battlehawks to score on a deep ball from McCarron to wide receiver Steven Mitchell Jr. to put the Battlehawks up 7-0 after a one-point conversion from tight end Jake Sutherland.

During the second quarter, Nabers sustained an injury, which required backup QB Quinten Dormady to take over for the Brahmas. After trading possessions, the Battlehawks ended the first half with a field goal from kicker Andre Szmyt to put them up 10-0 going into the third quarter.

Coming out of the gate hot, Dormady threw a beautiful back-shoulder pass to WR Jontre Kirklin for a big gain. Right after, Dormady went back to Kirklin to get them in striking distance. Ellison ran it in to put the Brahmas on the board, but they failed the two-point conversion, leaving the score 10-6.

The Brahmas defense stood tall to end the third quarter and at the beginning of the fourth, stopping the Battlehawks from extending the lead. Halfway through the fourth, the Battlehawks got a major punt return from Darius Shepherd to the Brahmas' 33-yard line. The Brahmas defense stood strong, holding the Battlehawks to only a field goal, making the score 13-6 with just over 3 minutes left.

San Antonio was not done just yet. Dormady threw another beauty to Kirklin, who was hit on the catch but scored anyway. The Brahmas opted to go for two, which was initially ruled as Kirklin just being stopped right before the goal line but was briefly overturned after review, leaving the Brahmas up 14-13. However, the Battlehawks used the United Football League's unique super challenge, which took away the two points because of an ineligible man downfield.

How the Battlehawks Beat the Brahmas

In a crazy turn of events, the Brahmas were given another chance at the two-point conversion, but the Battlehawks secondary stepped up and forced a dropped ball after linebacker Willie Harvey hit WR Justin Smith, leaving the Brahmas down 13-12. The Brahmas stopped the Battlehawks from running time out and got the opportunity to kick a 51-yard field goal for the win with 12 seconds left, but it missed left as the Battlehawks beat Brahmas 13-12.

The Turning Point

The turning point of the game was once the two-point conversion to put the Brahmas up at the end of the fourth quarter was super challenged. The result of an ineligible man down field and taking away the two points stripped away the only lead the Brahams would have had all game, and it had it stood, could have given them the win with Garbers down and out.

Play of the Game

The play of the game was Harvey stopping Smith from getting full possession on a late throw by Dormady. Had Smith been able to make the catch, the Brahmas would have got their two points and the lead back putting immense pressure on the Battlehawks offense to score. Instead, they were able to win the game after not running the clock out and holding the Brahmas to a missed field goal.

Battlehawks MVPs

Offense: QB AJ McCarron

Defense: DB Dravon Askew-Henry

Brahmas MVPs

Offense: WR Jontre Kirklin

Defense: Safety Scott Nelson

What This Means for the Battlehawks

With the win, the Battlehawks get some mojo back with the return of McCarron, and lock up home-field advantage versus the Brahmas in the XFL Conference Championship. With some momentum built up from this game, the Battlehawks look to win the conference title and advance to the UFL Championship.

What This Means for the Brahmas

With the loss of not only this game but their QB Garbers, the Brahmas make the path to the UFL Championship much more difficult for themselves. Now, they have to come back to St. Louis potentially without their QB, and the last thing this team needs is more injuries.


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