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Wildcats rally, hang on for wild win over Vipers

The comeback wasn't complete until Jack Tocho's end zone interception. But the night, like the rally that distinguished it, belonged to Josh Johnson.

The former NFL journeyman threw four touchdowns as the Los Angeles Wildcats erased an 18-point deficit Sunday to beat the Tampa Bay Vipers, 41-34.

The primetime kickoff -- thus far the latest in this second iteration of the XFL -- produced a new record for combined points (75) and arguably the best game of the season.

Johnson has never thrown more than two touchdowns in a single game over 12 years in the NFL, and the lone instance he had two came in his second career start all the way back in 2009. Two weeks ago, he tossed three scores in a rout over the DC Defenders. The Wildcats needed every Johnson TD pass to close out a slugfest against the Vipers.

His third one, a 11-yard strike to Tre McBride late in the third quarter, gave the Wildcats their first lead. They went ahead 33-24 in the fourth after Johnson found Saeed Blacknall for a 17-yard touchdown.

Johnson finished 20 of 36 for 288 yards, hitting four different receivers for touchdowns as the Wildcats set a new record for points in a game.

Los Angeles (2-3) appeared to clinch the win when Boogie Roberts' scoop-and-score gave the home team a 41-27 advantage. The Vipers (1-4), who dominated the game's opening 25 minutes, made a final push in the final five.

Quarterback Taylor Cornelius drove the length of the field before connecting with Reece Horn for a 24-yard TD that cut the deficit to seven. Following a Wildcats three-and-out, Cornelius again moved Tampa Bay down the field and inside Los Angeles' 10, only to be picked off by Tocho.

It all followed an eventful first half in which the Vipers scored the game's first 17 points yet led just 24-20 at the break. Johnson was picked off on the opening play from scrimmage to set up a chip-shot field goal for Tampa Bay. The Vipers scored touchdowns on their next three possessions, capped off by a 16-yard pass from Cornelius to Jalen Tolliver.

Trailing 24-6 and seemingly on the cusp of being blown out, the Wildcats quickly clawed their way back late in the first half. Johnson closed out consecutive drives with a pair of touchdown passes in the last two minutes before halftime.

Cornelius finished 22 of 34 for 300 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

The wild affair featured seven turnovers but just one lead change.

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