The hungry Los Angeles Wildcats (1-2) were able to get their first win of the XFL season in a dominant fashion, taking down the DC Defenders (1-2) 39-9 in a one-sided affair.
Wildcats’ QB Josh Johnson came out firing on all cylinders and was able to finally bring life to an offense that had struggled in the first two weeks. Johnson led the Wildcats 71 yards down the field on their first drive, finding Tre McBride for a 40-yard touchdown and giving Los Angeles a lead that they would never look back from.
Head coach Winston Moss spoke about the improvements he has seen from his QB, “Josh really prepared, not only himself, but he got this team prepared. He challenged the players for more commitment, more dedication, and the results speak for themselves,” Moss said.
Johnson posted a near-perfect passer rating of 148 while completing 18 of 25 passes for 278 yards and 3 touchdowns. Through his first two games, he has amassed 474 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions. Johnson had missed the majority of training and the first game of the season due to a thigh injury.
“I am feeling better, just getting back in sync. I missed all of training camp, so I understood why things were going to go certain ways. A lot of teams have been together for two months, but we have just been like patchwork,” Johnson said about the status of his injury and team. “It was on us to figure out our problems and one thing we have all been talking about is that it is not about who is right or wrong, it is about all of us seeing it the same way; just finding solutions instead of worrying about problems. We did a good job with that this week.”
McBride played against his former team, DC traded him to the Wildcats for Rasad Ross in January. McBride caught five passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns, averaging an immense 21.8 yards per reception.
The Wildcats didn’t just put on a show in the air, their run game was also the best we’ve seen so far. Starting RB Elijah Hood sat out. However, in his absence, Larry Rose and Martez “Mr. Excitement” Carter made a huge impact on the field. Rose ran for a touchdown and Carter found the endzone three times, with one receiving touchdown and two by rushing, punctuating his career performance with a backflip in the endzone.
“It actually feels great! We put the work in to get this dub. And we put the time in, this week was over time. We game-planned a lot and as you can see today it showed,” Carter said about his team’s first win. “So I’m proud of my team, I’m proud of the offensive line, it started on the front. So, I’m really pleased with the results that we have today, going forward I feel real confident in the whole team, defenses as well. They showed up today. So I feel really good about it going forward.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Los Angeles had a field day. The team forced 5 turnovers from the Defenders, including 4 interceptions from MVP favorite Cardale Jones. Coming into Los Angeles, Jones only had one interception on the season. Tyree Jackson replaced Jones. Jackson engineered the only DC touchdown drive
Jones spoke about his performance in the Defender’s loss, “I can’t put our team in tough positions like the one out there. I have to give credit to LA, and what they did on both sides of the ball. They took away everything that we wanted to get, took away everything we thought were weaknesses that we wanted to exploit.”
Cornerbacks Mike Stevens and Jack Tocho were able to exploit the Defenders the most, with both players recording a pair of takeaways. Stevens had two interceptions while Tocho had an interception and a fumble recovery from a botched DC punt.
Things are looking up for the Wildcats, the defense has taken massive steps since the team parted ways with defensive coordinator Pepper Johnson after their first game. Josh Johnson appears to be finding his stride and has a core group of receivers to help him succeed.
For the Defenders, it’s hard to tell if this game was a fluke. Cardale Jones looked lost in his first game on the road and the Defenders’ lines struggled. Head coach Pep Hamilton will have a lot of evaluating to do.
The Wildcats will look to keep their momentum rolling as they travel to The Big Apple on Saturday to face off against the New York Guardians at 2 p.m. ET on ABC. DC will be on the road for the second week in a row. They look to bounce back against the winless Tampa Bay Vipers at 7 p.m. ET Sunday on ESPN 2.