Roughnecks 37, Wildcats 17

Roughnecks vs Wildcats: Good, bad and ugly

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The Houston Roughnecks kicked off their inaugural season with an impressive victory over the Los Angeles Wildcats in front of nearly 18,000 spectators at TDECU Stadium. The game had a party like atmosphere as the city of Houston welcomed its newest professional sports team to town. There was a lot of scoring, big hits, and even a little defense for the first ever XFL game in Houston.

The Good

- The Roughnecks didn't waste any time getting on the board to start the game. It took only three plays for Quarterback P.J. Walker to find an open Cam Phillips for a 50- yard touchdown. Walker was by far the standout player of the game. He finished his Roughnecks debut with 272 yards passing and 4 touchdown passes on 23-for39 passing attempts. He was named the starter over former Raiders Quarterback and 4th round pick Conner Cook on Thursday, and it looks as though June Jones and his coaching staff made the right call. Walker worked well under constant pressure and was able to throw the ball deep down the field on multiple occasions. Walker looked as though he had a little bit of Deshaun Watson in him by eluding would be tacklers and even flashing the H-town sign after picking up a first down.

- It was a back and forth game offensively between both the Roughnecks and the Wildcats with neither team playing particularly well on defense. That is until the second half started, for Houston's defense didn't allow the Wildcats to score at all after halftime. The Roughnecks did a great job getting after both L.A. quarterbacks with 16 QB hits and 5 sacks as a team. In a league that predicates itself as a high octane offensive league, it's good to know that the Roughnecks have a defense that can step up when needed. The defense had two key turnovers in the second half that killed all momentum for the Wildcats. One was an interception by Deatrick Nichols with 12 minutes left to go in the 4th quarter, and the other was fumble and recovery by DeMarquis Gates. This essentially sealed the game for the Roughnecks.

- June Jones is back in Texas and looks as if he never lost his offensive touch. Jones coached at the University of Hawaii and SMU before taking his coaching talents to the CFL to coach the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. This season, he left his position with Hamilton to become the head coach for the Roughnecks. Everywhere he has gone, he has instilled an offensive game plan known as the Run N Shoot, now known as an up tempo offensive spread. Walker and the Roughneck's offense ran this scheme amazingly. With Jones at the helm and Walker as the go-to quarterback, who knows how good this offense can be going forward.

The Bad

- The Roughnecks' running backs combined for only 12 rushing attempts and 50 yards rushing for the entire game. Although one of those attempts was a touchdown to James Butler for a 4 yard score, the offense was too heavily reliant on passing plays to keep the ball moving. It may have worked this time, but Jones should implement his running backs more going forward. Butler performed admirably in his limited offensive role and given some time, Butler could be the next breakout star for this Roughnecks' offense.

- Speaking of potential breakout stars, Sammy Coates didn't have that good of a game to start the season. The former Houston Texan came into training camp as the number one receiver and was essentially shut down by the Wildcats' secondary. He finished the game with only 2 catches on 9 attempts for only 26 yards. He was heavily covered on almost every play which led to other receivers such as Lewis Kahlil, Cam Phillips and Sam Mobley to get the lion's share of catches for the game. As pedestrian as his performance was, this game should be an outlier for Coates instead of the norm for the young talented receiver. Coates will have more opportunities to show he is a number one receiver as the season progresses.

- There wasn't much else that could fit in the "bad" category for the Roughnecks. Sure the defense was mediocre until halftime but I would just be nitpicking if I said that. Instead I'll use the final bad point to talk about the Wildcats' coaching errors. Los Angeles looked great going into halftime. They were answering everything the Roughnecks threw at them and were down only 17-18 just before the end of the second quarter. All the Wildcats had to do was kick a 29-yard field goal to take the lead into halftime, but Head Coach Winston Moss' poor time management lead to the clock running out and the Wildcats never saw a lead again. This was a huge missed opportunity that could have given the Wildcats momentum going into halftime.

The Ugly

- The PAT rules in the XFL are bizarre and may need some time to get accustomed to. Under XFL rules, teams don't kick extra points anymore. Instead they must try to score one, two or three points attempts from two, five, or ten yards out. The Roughnecks were 0-3 on PAT's in the first half but finished 2-5 on total point after attempts. Most likely, these points after attempts will improve as the season progresses and fans will get used to the idea of no more kicking attempts for points after touchdown scores.

- In what can only be described as unexpected, Wide Receiver Lewis Kahlil lined up near the Wildcats' red zone early in the game and the camera caught him losing his lunch on the field. This isn't the first time someone has gotten sick in the middle of the game and certainly will not be the last time. It was an ugly sight to see, but the Roughnecks' offense started playing well after this "fumble" if you will. Maybe it was a good luck charm for a Roughnecks victory.

- Those that didn't attend the game tuned to FOX to see the inaugural XFL game in Houston. After the Roughnecks scored their initial touchdown you could hear Veteran Sportscaster Curt Menefee, who was calling play-by-play for FOX, yell "Touchdown Renegades." Oops. The Renegades are the XFL team in Dallas. It's like if the Texans scored and the commentator yelled touchdown Cowboys! Yikes, a rough start for the Roughnecks already. All jokes aside, this blunder didn't take away from the television viewing experience Roughnecks' fans had watching their team crush the Wildcats.

With Week 1 in the books, the Roughnecks look ahead to the St. Louis BattleHawks Sunday February 16th as they look to remain undefeated. If they continue to play as well as they did Saturday night, the Roughnecks could be a potential favorite in every game going forward.

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Houston loses to end the road trip

Dodgers get best of Odorizzi to split series with Astros

Jake Odorizzi allowed four home runs over three innings against the Dodgers on Wednesday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

After spoiling the night of many Dodgers fans in the opener of this two-game series in Los Angeles the night prior, the Astros returned to the stadium to a fresh set of hostile fans, looking to get the mini-sweep. This one went much more in favor of the home team, though, as the Dodgers would ride three big innings to start the game to the win for the series split.

Final Score: Dodgers 7, Astros 5

Astros' Record: 65-43, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Max Scherzer (9-4)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (4-6)

Odorizzi gets shelled

After a Michael Brantley solo home in the top of the first run against Max Scherzer, making his Dodger debut, it looked like the Astros may continue their momentum from the night before to grab hold of this game as well. However, that all changed in the bottom of the inning, as the Dodgers would tee off against Jake Odorizzi.

In that inning, he allowed four runs, a leadoff solo shot by Mookie Betts, then later a three-run blast by Will Smith. Betts made it 2-for-2 with solo homers in the bottom of the second, extending the lead to 5-1. Things went from bad to worse in the third, with Los Angeles getting their fourth home run, this one for two runs to make it a 7-1 game. Odorizzi would finish the third but go no further.

Scherzer K's 10 over seven innings in his Dodger debut

Houston tried to start clawing back into it in the top of the fourth, getting a second run against Scherzer with a two-out RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, trimming the lead to five runs at 5-2. First out of Houston's bullpen was Yimi Garcia in the bottom of the fourth, and he tossed the first 1-2-3 inning for Houston. Rafael Montero was next in the bottom of the fifth, working around a leadoff double followed by a walk for a scoreless inning.

Montero remained in the game in the bottom of the sixth, still 7-2, and would get another scoreless inning, this time sitting down the Dodgers in order. Scherzer finished his quality debut for his new team in the top of the seventh, erasing a leadoff walk to complete seven innings while allowing two runs.

Astros lose to split the series with Dodgers

Brooks Raley was Houston's next reliever, and he, too, would get through a scoreless inning by erasing a two-out single. In the game-within-the-game, the Dodgers brought in Joe Kelly for the top of the eighth, who notched two strikeouts to bring none other than Carlos Correa to the plate, setting up a rematch of the well-known incident that led to the "pouty face" clip from 2020. Carlos Correa won this round, launching a 405-foot homer off of Kelly to make it a four-run game at 7-3.

Phil Maton kept the score there, stranding two runners in the bottom of the eighth to send the 7-3 game to the top of the ninth, where the Dodgers would bring in Kenley Jansen. After a leadoff single, Kyle Tucker would get the Astros within two runs on a two-run homer, making it 7-5. That's as close as they would get, as Jansen would regroup to get the next three batters out to wrap up the loss for Houston.

Up Next: With this road trip completed, the Astros will have a quick turnaround as they catch a late flight back to Houston then turn around with a game Thursday at 7:10 PM Central to open a four-game series with the Twins. Framber Valdez (7-2, 3.01 ERA) will take the mound for Houston in the opener, while Minnesota will counter with Griffin Jax (1-1, 6.41 ERA).

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