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Brahmas Secure Playoff Spot With Win Over Renegades

© Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Death, taxes and the San Antonio Brahmas finding a way to win close games in 2024—three things you can count on. The Brahmas defeated the Arlington Renegades 20-15 on Sunday at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Despite going scoreless in the second half, the Brahmas secured the victory on the strength of their defense, officially clinching a playoff spot in the XFL Conference of the UFL.

Game Summary

The Brahmas were happy to welcome back running back Anthony McFarland, who missed the last four games due to injury. On the opening drive, McFarland caught a quick swing pass from quarterback Quinten Dormady and smashed the R2 button on his PlayStation controller as he sped past defenders for a 52-yard touchdown reception.

After two field goals by the Brahmas and one by the Renegades, the score was 13-3 when McFarland again showcased his explosiveness and ability to gain yards after the catch in the second quarter. McFarland ran an option route out of the backfield, broke a tackle after catching the ball and raced to the end zone for a 37-yard touchdown reception.

Going into halftime, the score was 20-3, with the Brahmas outgaining the Renegades 300 yards to 86. The Renegades started the second half with a 6-play, 55-yard drive, ending in a 14-yard touchdown reception by tight end Sal Cannella, who outjumped Brahmas cornerback Jordan Mosley for the ball and "Moss'd" him on the play.

The rest of the game saw the Brahmas unable to put the Renegades away due to missed field goals and penalties. One painful example occurred when Dormady threw a touchdown pass to tight end Cody Latimer (6 catches, 116 receiving yards), but the play was called back due to an offensive pass interference call on wide receiver Jontre Kirklin. Dormady was sacked on the next play and kicker Ryan Santoso missed a 48-yard field goal attempt.

Late in the fourth quarter, Renegades quarterback Luis Perez found wide receiver JP Payton in the back of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown reception with 1:20 remaining, making it 20-15 Brahmas.

The Renegades could not convert their 2-point conversion attempt and elected to go for it on fourth-and-12, a UFL rule allowing a team to gain a first down from their 28-yard line instead of attempting an onside kick. The Brahmas closed the game with a sack by defensive tackle Prince Emili on a three-man rush, stopping the Renegades from gaining the first down and securing the win.

Turning Point

The obvious answer is the return of McFarland in the second as he was listed as active for this game. McFarland brought a level of explosiveness that had been missing from the offense, finishing with 3 receptions for 118 yards and 2 touchdowns. If I had to pick a specific play not involving McFarland, it would be the Renegades' fourth-and-1 at the Brahmas' 15-yard line in the fourth quarter, trailing 20-9 with 10 minutes remaining. The Renegades attempted to run power to the right side, but the Brahmas' defensive front won the battle at the line of scrimmage, stopping running back De'Veon Smith short of the first down.

Winning MVP

Dormady played well for the Brahmas, going 17-for-25 for 320 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and most importantly, no turnovers. Mosley also had a strong performance on defense with 9 tackles. Despite these notable efforts, McFarland stands out as the easy answer for the Brahmas' success, even though College Football Dawgs highlighted Dormady and Mosley as key players if San Antonio were to be victorious in our preview.

Losing MVP

Cannella finished with 9 receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown. He does a great job using his 6-foot-5 frame to give his quarterback a generous catch range, and Perez found him often. Several times throughout the game, Cannella's play reminded me of former Miami Hurricane and New York Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey. Both have similar builds, the ability to make contested catches, and a strong belief in their playing ability.

© Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

What the Win Means for the Brahmas

Playoffs. With this win, the Brahmas have officially clinched a playoff spot in the XFL and now have their sights on the No. 1 seed for their conference. However, the road gets much tougher as their next two opponents, the Birmingham Stallions and St. Louis Battlehawks, have a combined record of 14-2. If the Brahmas can hand the Stallions their first loss of the year next week, the final game of the regular season in Week 10 in St. Louis against the Battlehawks will determine the No. 1 seed.

What the Loss Means for the Renegades

After finishing the 2023 season as XFL champions, it has been a steep drop for head coach Bob Stoops and the Renegades, now sitting at 1-7 after the loss. The Renegades came into this game playing for pride and suffered their fourth loss by five points or fewer. The goal will be to finish the season strong with wins over the Battlehawks and Defenders, aiming to carry that success into the 2025 season.


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