• River Tompkins

Can't stop this undefeated Houston Roughnecks team as they take down the Seattle Dragons

In Houston two electric quarterbacks face off in a major West division battle. Houston Roughnecks P.J. walker who is the number one ranked QB in the XFL takes on Seattle Dragon’s first time starter QB B.J.Daniels. Walker, who has rolled through the season as the top QB, led the league's most prolific offense and is the first QB to hit 1,000 yards. Daniels, who only played one half in week 4 made his presence felt with 100 passing yards, 1 touchdown, and 70+ rushing yards. What should have been a one sided affair, turned in to a dynamic back and forth matchup. The game proved no different then expected: it was thrilling. The game started with the Roughnecks receiving as they always opt to. The Dragon’s defense came out gunning as defensive end Jacquies Smith came roaring around the edge knocking the ball out of P.J. Walker's hands leading to a Seattle recovery. Dual-threat quarterback B.J. Daniels scored on a 2-yard QB sweep play.

Seattle's Jacquies Smith strips ball from QB P.J. Walker.

"Yes, I am going to have him [B.J. Daniels] continue, I think he's earned that. He got better this week, last week he came in and had almost zero reps, so he took the majority of the reps this week. I did give Brandon Silvers a lot of time because how do you know when you're starting a new guy. He [Daniels] showed he's ready for this,” said Dragons head coach Jim Zorn.

Starting QB of the Seattle Seahawks (1976-1984) now Seattle Dragons head coach Jim Zorn.

After a missed Roughnecks field goal the Dragons were once again set up in great field position. Sprinkling in both run and pass they made their way downfield allowing running back Trey Williams to get loose for a 17-yard TD. The Roughnecks, now down by their largest deficit in Houston history, needed a playmaker, his name was Nick Holley. Holley ran a streak route and was left uncovered, after making the catch he broke the defender's ankles, soaring into the endzone for a 50-yard touchdown.

Nick Holley makes break-out 50-yard touchdown.

With the score 6-14, the Roughnecks got the ball back. Starting X receiver Sammie Coates had been held out of the game due to injury and his replacement was Sam Mobley. Mobley who had already made plays made yet another, breaking away on the sideline for a 42-yard catch. Walker then hit three different receivers for gains of 9, 9, 15 and 14-yards allowing James Butler to plow through into the endzone for a 1-yard touchdown.

James Butler pushes through to the end zone.

With the score tied 14-14, the Dragons stepped up hitting a field goal from 46-yards out. Next, P.J. Walker stepped up in the pocket trying to throw to an outside curl route, the pass was jumped by Marko Myers who took it back to the one-yard line. Dragons coach Jim Zorn did not fix what was not broken as he ran an identical QB weep allowing B.J. Daniels to score from 1-yard out.

B.J. Daniels shifts the field with rushing touchdown.

P.J. Walker had hit the Dragons defenders deep in the middle, the left and now the right. On this play, Walker found stud wide receiver, Cam Phillips, for 48-yards downfield. James Butler (12-52-2) did what he does best, cap drives off inside the 10-yard line, this one from 8-yards, Butler had his second score of the game. For the second time he jumped in to the crowd and the fans went crazy.

Fan favorite James Butler jumps the wall and celebrates with the crowd after each of his touchdowns.

The Roughnecks again with the ball were down by three. Knowing he had to take time off the clock, head coach June Jones transitioned to a slower pace yet still effective offense. This drive totaled 11 plays all gaining modest pickups and led to Walker finding Cam Phillips in the back of the endzone. June Jones up now by three forgot about the clock and continued the air raid. Walker (27 out of 38 / 351 yards / 3 TDs / 2 INT) once again found Mobley downfield, this one for 25-yards then found the XFL leading touchdown receiver Cam Phillips for his second of the day and ninth of the season.

Sam Mobley making defenders miss as he takes off downfield.

What I noticed from this game is that the Roughnecks are going to spread the ball around. In previous weeks they were reliant on Cam Phillips (10-122-2) but now Sam Mobley (6-95), Khalil Lewis (3-31) and Nick Holley (4-72-1) have all stepped up. When all is said and done the Roughnecks remain undefeated and on the top of both the XFL and the Western Conference. The Dragons will need to get it together soon in order to beat out the Renegades or Wildcats for a playoff spot. The Dragons will take on the LA Wildcats on Sunday in Seattle. The Roughnecks (5-0) travel to New York to take on a rejuvenated Guardians (3-2) team this Saturday.

QB P.J. Walker proudly holds up five fingers to represent five games, five wins.

“We have been behind in a game but not that much behind. You kind of know that's the way the football game is. There are going to be times during the game when you are going to have to fight adversity and we did and we came back and made some plays. P.J. wishes he did not throw a couple of balls. The thing I was impressed with is he came right back and took us right down the field and does not let it bother him, that's what the great ones do”, stated Roughnecks head coach June Jones.

Houston Roughnecks head coach June Jones.