BY JEREMY HOUSEWRIGHT
The St. Louis Battlehawks have opened the 2023 XFL football season with two come-from-behind victories in exciting fashion.
On Thursday night, former University of Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron did it again for the Battlehawks.
The signal caller had ice in his veins – probably literally as temps dipped below freezing in Seattle – in leading the team down the field for the winning drive Thursday night.
The Battlehawks got a 44-yard field goal from kicker Donald Hageman as time expired, giving St. Louis a 20-18 win over the Seattle Sea Dragons.
McCarron finished the game 22-of-36 passing for 180 yards and one touchdown pass. While McCarron was sacked five times last week, the offensive line was a bit better, allowing just three sacks this week.
Still, the offensive line is a work in progress.
The Battlehawks’ running game was effective, averaging 4.2 yards per carry. McCarron led with 41 yards rushing. The team missed starting running back Brian Hill, who was out with a hamstring injury. He should return next week.
Hakeem Butler led all receivers with four catches for 61 yards, while Austin Proehl came up big once again with a clutch catch near the end of the game to put St. Louis in field goal range. Proehl finished with four catches for 37 yards. McCarron hit eight different receivers on the night, doing an effective job of spreading the ball out.
While Seattle quarterback Ben DiNucci looked really good at times, tossing two touchdowns, he also had the turnover bug once again. Seattle turned the ball over three times in the loss.
St. Louis, while not dominant, takes care of the football, which pays dividends in the end, as the team has found itself in both games at the end on each occasion.
Now at 2-0 on the season, St. Louis will travel to Washington, D.C. to take on the D.C. Defenders next Sunday at noon. The game will air on FX.
The Battlehawks faced the San Antonio Brahmas on the road during opening weekend, pulling off a miracle comeback win.
Down 15-3 with 90 seconds left in the game, McCarron led a drive finished off by an 18-yard pass to Hakeem Butler to make it 15-9.
In the XFL, you can go for a three-point conversion. The Battlehawks converted on the play to make it 15-12.
Another rule in the XFL allows teams to attempt a fourth down and 15 play from the team’s own 25-yard line instead of going for an onside kick. The Battlehawks converted the fourth and 15 and marched toward the end zone.
With only 16 seconds remaining in regulation, McCarron connected with Proehl for the go-ahead score to win 18-15.
In other Battlehawks news, the upper deck of The Dome at America’s Center will be available for seating during the home opener of the Battlehawks on March 12. For tickets or more information, click here.