A quick jump into stardom led to a complete flop in Hollywood. The Tampa Bay Vipers got off to another great start, however this time the team collapses as the Los Angeles Wildcats win 41-34 in comeback fashion.
Los Angeles, CA — The Tampa Bay Vipers came out on fire, continuing the success from the previous week. They ran the ball with ease. The defense created turnovers, including interception Josh Johnson’s first pass of the game. It was like we were watching the best performance Hollywood had to offer.
The Vipers took a 17-0 lead into the second quarter. Dating back to the prior game, the Vipers outscored their opponents 42-0. The defense went 90:07 of game clock between opponent scores, which is the longest such streak in the XFL so far this season.
They were even up at much as 24-6 at one point. So what the hell happened?
The Wildcats then responded with a 10-play, 67-yard touchdown drive to get the score within ten points. That touchdown was scored with 1:50 left in the first half. The Vipers then went three-and-out and took a whopping :47 seconds off the clock. Two blinks later, the Wildcats scored again making the score 24-20 at half time.
“I will just start by saying we have a very disappointed Vipers locker room,” Vipers head coach Marc Trestman said to the media after the game. “I am proud of our guys. We played our tails off, but the fact of the matter is that we are a 1-4 football team, and we have to accept that.”
The defense has been the glue that’s kept this team in games for much of the season. That glue could not hang on in the second half of this game, however.
They were lights out up until there was five minutes to go in the second quarter. The defense put constant pressure on Johnson, although they didn’t record a sack. They forced Johnson out of the pocket all night, but after the first pass that was intercepted, Johnson was unstoppable. He completed 20/36 passes for 288 yards and four touchdowns. All four touchdowns went to different receivers.
The 41 points allowed is the most given up by any team this season. It’s two more points than the previous high of 39 points, which was also scored by the Wildcats offense.
Offense did their job
The offense did stall in the second half, but scoring 34 points in a game, you’d expect to win. In fact, the 34 points are the most points scored for a losing team this season. Taylor Cornelius had the first 300 yard passing game for the Vipers as he threw for exactly 300 yards on the dot. He completed 22/34 passes including two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran for a score for the second straight game.
Reece Horn led the receivers with nine receptions for 9o yards and a touchdown.
“We came out swinging. Our offense was on it,” Horn said after the game. “Defense was on it too. And I think something we learned from this game is to just keep that momentum going. Don’t get too high, don’t get too low, no matter what the score is.”
Horn was one of three receivers with over 86 yards tonight for the Vipers. Jalen Tolliver caught four passes for 95 yards and a touchdown. And Dan Williams also played a big role tonight with five catches for 86 yards.
The run game started strong. Jacques Patrick started the scoring with his second rushing touchdown of the season. He later injured his back and did not return to action. He finished with seven carries for 23 yards. De’Veon Smith carried the load rushing 24 times in the game. He could only convert those into 69 yards, though.
The Vipers (1-4) get to stay home this week as they host the St. Louis Battlehawks (3-2) at Raymond James Stadium. The game is scheduled for Saturday, March 14th at 5PM ET.
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