Roughnecks 28, BattleHawks 24

5 thoughts from the Roughnecks'  thrilling win over the BattleHawks

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Sunday night's game between the Houston Roughnecks and the St. Louis BattleHawks was a thriller to say the least. The BattleHawks rallied late and almost mounted a comeback, but it was too little too late. Houston relied on its high-powered offense and some timely defense to remain undefeated. There were many positive and only a few negative takeaways from the Roughnecks' 28-24 victory.

1) P.J. Walker is a legit Star

Walker had his second great start at quarterback for the Roughnecks and could be on his way to earning some MVP consideration. He looks calm, cool and collected under pressure, and his game is starting to mirror that of Deshaun Watson's. On multiple instances, Walker would elude tackles and extend plays using his legs. Walker's first touchdown pass was a side-armed throw to a tightly covered Cam Philips that was similar to something you would see high caliber NFL quarterbacks do. If he continues to play this way, the Roughnecks' offense will be hard to stop the rest of the season.

2) Cam Phillips has become the number one receiver

If P.J. Walker is the face of the team, Cam Phillips has become the second star that's starting to shine bright. He had three touchdown catches and led the team in receiving yards for the second week in a row. Phillips now leads the XFL in touchdown receptions. Walker and Phillips have developed a Batman and Robin like tandem that is shredding defenses week after week.

3) More star players are starting to emerge for the Roughnecks

To start the season, the most notable name in the entire Roughnecks' organization was Coach June Jones. That's all starting to change now. Besides the aforementioned Walker and Phillips duo, more Roughnecks' players are starting to get praise from their fans and the media. Running Back James Butler has become the go-to running back for the Roughnecks and is playing a great supporting role in Jones' Run N Shoot offense. On defense both Cornerbacks Cody Brown and Jeremiah Johnson nearly had touchdown returns after their interceptions and have shown they can be lockdown cornerbacks when needed. Another emerging defensive star is Linebacker DeMarcus Gates, who has become one of the best tacklers on the team in my opinion. Winning draws fans, and the more you win the more people will watch. I'm not saying these players will start appearing in car commercials, but soon more player's names will become recognizable as the season progresses.

4) The Run N' Shoot is weak against the blitz

The BattleHawks went in to halftime needing to make key adjustments on defense. They did just that for the 3rd quarter and the majority of the 4th quarter as well. The Roughnecks only had one offensive possesion in the 3rd quarter which was a quick three-and-out. They didn't score after halftime until nine minutes left in the 4th quarter to go up 28-18. Their offense started struggling once the BattleHawks started blitzing. The O-line did their part and played well, but in a typical Run N' Shoot style offense, there isn't a tight end or a blocking running back in most plays. This made it easier for St. Louis' defense to get Walker under pressure and force him to try and escape the pocket multiple times. Adjustments made by Coach Jones,Walker and the Roughnecks were able to counter this strategy and win the game. Walker was able to elude the rushers multiple times and extend plays with his legs forcing the BattleHawks to stop blitzing after the Roughnecks scored their final touchdown. I tried to have one negative takeaway, but I would be nitpicking. The offense's lone weakness seems to be blitzing defenses. If that's their only weakness, they surely have one of if not the best offenses in the league.

5) The XFL in Houston works

Nearly 1,000 less people showed up to the second Roughnecks' game of the season, but that didn't seem to matter to the fans who did show up. TDECU Stadium once again had a lound party like atmosphere, and the Roughnecks still outdrew the Defenders and the Wildcats this weekend. Houston fans love them some XFL football. So much so that XFL Commissioner & CEO Oliver Luck announced that TDECU Stadium would host the inaugural championship game. As previously mentioned, if you keep winning fans show up, and it looks as though the Roughnecks are starting to from their own niche in the busy sports scene that is Houston.

The Roughnecks look to remain undefeated as they play their first road game of the season against the winless Tampa Bay Vipers. The early odds show the Roughnecks as a big favorite against the worst team in the league, but could also be a potential trap game if they are not careful.

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After a rough, disheartening loss the night before to even the series at one game apiece, the Astros tried to shake it off and regroup for a win on Thursday to get the series win against the Diamondbacks in Arizona. Here is a quick recap of the finale:

Final Score: Diamondbacks 5, Astros 4.

Record: 6-6, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Junior Guerra (1-0, 0.00 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Ryan Pressly (0-1, 40.50 ERA).

Bielak tosses an impressive start as Houston puts him in winning position

After both teams finished the first three innings scoreless, the Astros were able to get a little bit of good luck on their side, unlike the night prior. Jose Altuve started the inning with a much-needed single, stole second, then moved to third on a groundout for the second out. That set up Yuli Gurriel, who hit a ball down the third-base line that would strike the bag and bounce away from Arizona, allowing Altuve to score and put Houston up 1-0.

Though he likely would have preferred more run support, Brandon Bielak made do with that one run in his first career MLB start. He was able to complete five innings of work, holding Arizona scoreless over that span despite allowing a runner in each inning. He left in line for the win, with a final line of 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 0 HR.

Altuve extends the lead, then Diamondbacks go ahead

Jose Altuve helped double the lead in the top of the sixth, connecting for a one-out solo home run to make it 2-0. With Bielak's night over at five innings, Cy Sneed took over in the bottom of the sixth and allowed back-to-back one-out doubles to cut Houston's lead in half. He allowed a single to put runners on the corners before Dusty Baker would move on to another reliever to try and preserve the lead. Blake Taylor would enter but allowed the tying RBI-single to take Bielak out of winning position. Taylor would go on to allow a go-ahead run before getting out of the jam.

In the bottom of the seventh, Taylor was still on the mound but would only get two outs before another call to the pen. Andre Scrubb would enter and get the final out of the inning. In the top of the eighth, Jose Altuve would improve to 3-for-4 on the night with a two-out double, setting up Alex Bregman for a go-ahead two-run home run to make it 4-3, Houston.

Ryan Pressly allows the walk-off

Scrubb went back to the mound in the bottom of the eighth and was able to record a 1-2-3 inning to move the game to the ninth. After a scoreless top of the ninth, Ryan Pressly would attempt to get the save in the bottom of the inning. Instead, he would allow the walk-off, loading the bases with no outs on a walk and two singles before a two-RBI single to give Arizona the win and the series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will travel to Oakland to kick off a three-game weekend series with the A's on Friday at 8:10 PM Central. The A's will send Chris Bassitt (1-0, 0.93 ERA) to the mound while Houston will turn to Zack Greinke (0-0, 5.00 ERA) to help cut down Oakland's division lead.

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