Quarterback P.J. Walker put the Houston Roughnecks on his back and carried them to victory. On the XFL’s opening day, Walker was the brightest star.
Houston Roughnecks Run Away from the Los Angeles Wildcats, Win 37-17.
After taking the opening kickoff back 33 yards, the Houston Roughnecks got on the board quickly thereafter. PJ Walker hit the deep pass to Cam Phillips for a 50-yard touchdown. Houston chose to go for the one-point conversion and failed.
Quarterback Charles Kanoff got the start at quarterback for the LA Wildcats for the injured Josh Johnson. Kanoff led LA on an eleven play, 71-yard drive, capping it off by scoring on a five-yard scramble. He hit Jordan Smallwood on a pass for the two-point conversion to take an 8-6 lead.
Houston failed to capitalize on an LA turnover on the next possession. Kermit Whitfield muffed a punt at his own 38-yard line which Houston recovered. After a quick first down, Houston’s drive stalled out. Sergio Castillo was wide left on a 40-yard field goal attempt, giving the ball back to Los Angeles.
After an uneventful start to the second quarter, LA turned the ball over for a second time. Kanoff’s first down pass was batted at the line and fell into the lap of Kaelin Burnett who intercepted the pass while laying on his backside. Again the Roughnecks failed to convert the turnover into points.
On the next possession Kanoff was impressive, hitting Spruce, Whitfield twice, and finally Smallwood for an 11-yard touchdown. Kanoff’s first passing touchdown put the Wildcats up 14-6 with 9:26 remaining in the first half. The two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
After a pass interference call on Los Angeles took the ball down to the 16-yard line on the next drive, Walker promptly tossed his second touchdown pass of the day, this time to James Butler. Down 14-12, the Roughnecks failed to convert the two-point attempt for the second time.
Elijah Hood and Larry Rose started a balanced drive for LA on the next possession. The running backs gained 22 yards on the first four plays to get the drive going. They would fail to get into the endzone however and have to settle for a Nick Novak 35 yard field goal to go up 17-12.
Houston would catch a lucky break to start the next possession. James Butler initially muffed the kickoff which ricocheted hard off of his body and bounced in front of him. He was able to recover the loose ball in stride and hit a hole for a 62 yard return. Two plays later Walker would hit Sam Mobley for a 39 yard touchdown pass to make the score 18-17.
That’s where the score would stay going into halftime as Los Angeles bungled their last possession and weren’t able to attempt a field goal before the clock ran out.
The second half was all Roughnecks. PJ Walker was the best player on the field and showed why he beat out Connor Cook to win the starting job. After a three and out by Los Angeles to start the half, Walker would lead a seven play, 48 yard drive to extend the lead. The Temple alum hit Kahlil Lewis with a four yard touchdown pass and ran in the two point conversion attempt. It was Walker’s fourth touchdown pass of the game and Houston led 26-17.
Los Angeles struggled to move the ball in the second half. After a Castillo field goal increased the Houston lead to 29-17, Jalan McClendon replaced Kanoff at quarterback for the Wildcats. He would promptly throw an interception of his own.
Walker was impressive on the next drive, with his arm and his legs. He accounted for 38 of the 42 yards and Butler put the game away with a four yard touchdown run. A two point conversion from Walker to Lewis capped the days scoring at 37-17.
Walker accounted for 298 total yards and four touchdowns for the Roughnecks. Nelson Spruce and was the bright spot for the Wildcats, tallying 11 catches for 103 yards.
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