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DC Defenders Seize Victory From San Antonio Brahmas

San Antonio Brahmas running back John Lovett.
© Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Brahmas opened the 2024 season with a 27-12 victory over the DC Defenders on March 31 at the Alamodome. However, in a rematch, the Defenders beat the Brahmas 18-12 in a rainy match at Audi Field in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, May 5th.

Game Summary

In a closely fought match dominated by the defenses, the Brahmas went for it on fourth-and-goal at the Defenders’ 1-yard line halfway through the first quarter. Brahmas running back John Lovett was immediately stopped in the backfield by Defenders lineman Niles Scott, resulting in a loss on a play that had no chance of succeeding.

The Defenders led 6-3 at halftime following a 99-yard drive culminating in a touchdown run by running back Cam'Ron Harris.

In the second half, the Defenders extended their lead to 9-3 with a field goal, but the Brahmas countered with their first touchdown when running back John Lovett caught a 2-yard pass. Lovett had an outstanding game, finishing with 23 carries for 153 rushing yards and a touchdown reception. After the game, he repeatedly credited his offensive line for creating effective running lanes.

After trading field goals, the Defenders took the lead for good on Jordan Ta'amu’s 13-yard touchdown pass to receiver Kelvin Harmon that was perfectly placed between two Brahmas defenders. Defenders coach Reggie Barlow expressed his confidence in the post-game news conference that Harmon could secure any catchable pass, as he demonstrated throughout the game

Turning Point

The turning point came during an exciting kickoff return for a touchdown by receiver Chris Rowland halfway through the fourth quarter, but a replay showed he barely stepped out of bounds at the Brahmas' 38-yard line. The drive culminated in a winning touchdown reception by Harmon, after which the Defenders maintained their lead on the scoreboard until the final buzzer.

Winning MVP

Harmon finished with 8 catches for 101 yards and a touchdown, making key plays when his team needed them, including the tough game-winning catch. Harmon is now fourth in the UFL in receiving yards, with 338 yards on 25 receptions and 3 touchdowns.

Losing MVP

In a game where the Brahmas threw for only 67 yards, the running game proved crucial, and Lovett responded by rushing for a UFL season-high 153 yards in a single game. This performance came after an excellent effort the previous week when he ran for 95 yards and 2 touchdowns in a win over Arlington. Lovett now leads the UFL with 348 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns.

What the Loss Means for the Brahmas

This loss was a setback for the Brahmas, who could have nearly secured a playoff berth with a road victory at Audi Field. Now, they find themselves in a tight race with the Defenders for the second playoff spot in the XFL Division.

© Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Let's examine the strength of the schedule for both teams over the remaining four games:

  • Brahmas

    • Opponent win total - 12

    • Opponent loss total - 12

    • Opponent win percentage - .500

  • Defenders

    • Opponent win total - 10

    • Opponent loss total - 14

    • Opponent win percentage - .416

The Brahmas face a slightly tougher schedule, including games against both conference leaders: the 5-1 St. Louis BattleHawks and the 6-0 Birmingham Stallions.

What the Win Means for the DC Defenders

Entering the game at 2-3, this was a must-win for the Defenders to keep their playoff hopes alive. A loss would have nearly eliminated them from playoff contention, putting them three games behind the Brahmas and BattleHawks with only four remaining games.

With the win, the Defenders are now just one game behind the Brahmas for the final playoff spot in the XFL Conference. Expect a fierce battle for the final playoff spot between the Defenders and Brahmas for the rest of the season.


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