In every facet from the first kickoff to the final whistle, the St. Louis BattleHawks dominated an overmatched New York Guardians squad on Sunday afternoon.
Sparked by Joe Powell's electric 84-yard ramble for a kickoff return touchdown, St. Louis scored 20 straight points on its way to a 29-9 throttling over the visiting Guardians in XFL East action.
"Everybody stood up, even special teams," St. Louis quarterback Jordan Ta'Amu said late in the win during a sideline interview on ESPN. "I'm happy for the win.
"We're here to play and we're not going nowhere."
Though the first-place D.C. Defenders and Houston Roughnecks had emerged as frontrunners and favorites in the XFL East and West, respectively, the BattleHawks (2-1) continue to keep pace as they smothered the beleaguered Guardians (1-2), who lost for the second straight week and have scored just one touchdown over the last two games. And now as a result of the L.A. Wildcats' upset of the Defenders, the BattleHawks' victory puts them in a tie atop the East.
Entering the week as the XFL's leading ground gainer, BattleHawks running back Matt Jones essentially put the game away when he barreled in from a yard out with 1:12 remaining in the first half for a 21-3 advantage.
Jones had a game-high 95 yards rushing on 15 carries, while stablemate and fellow former NFLer Christine Michael added 13 carries for 44 yards and a touchdown. Ta'amu had a rather pedestrian outing as he wasn't really called on to do much as the game was a blowout from the beginning. Nonetheless, the dual threat was efficient to the tune of 12-for-18 for 119 yards and 14 yards on the ground in three carries.
The BattleHawks set a dominant tone from the onset, as Jones carried the ball on the first three plays from scrimmage, gaining six and five yards before bursting off right tackle for a 47-yard gain. On the ensuing play, Michael ran it up the gut for a 14-yard touchdown. Four plays, 72 yards and a 6-0 lead St. Louis would never look back from.
A week after a shutout loss, the Guardians offense found no answers. Much-maligned quarterback Matt McGloin got the start again, but his time, much like New York's aspirations for a win, was short-lived. McGloin was 8-of-11 for 73 yards and an interception before Marquise Williams took over (7-of-15 for 94 yards). Guardians third-stringer Luis Perez (4-of-5 for 39 yards) was able to orchestrate a scoring drive past the midway point of the fourth quarter and hit wide receiver Austin Duke for an eight-yard score.
Just as questions still need answering for the Guardians -- most notably on the offensive end -- the inspired play continues for the BattleHawks.