With 3:02 left in the San Antonio Brahmas-St. Louis Battlehawks’ XFL matchup today, the Hines Ward-coached Brahmas led 15-3 after a made field goal by kicker John Parker Romo. Within the next three minutes, the Battlehawks would take advantage of the XFL’s rules and get a three-point conversion and convert a 4th-and-15 onside kick. A touchdown pass to Austin Proehl, who also caught the three-point conversion, with 16 seconds left was enough to give the Battlehawks the lead, and they would win 18-15.
Ward’s Brahmas played a lot like the Pittsburgh Steelers teams he used to play on, running the ball to control the clock and relying on a strong defense. The Brahmas ran the ball 39 times compared to 36 pass attempts, with former Steelers running back Kalen Ballage leading the way with 84 yards and a touchdown for San Antonio.
St. Louis couldn’t get much of anything going offensively until the final minutes when former Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron turned it on, hitting wide receiver Hakeem Butler for a touchdown with 1:25 to go before finding Proehl for the conversion. On the onside 4th down attempt, he found Proehl for 22 yards to convert and five plays later would again turn to Proehl, who made a really nice play on the throw over the middle for a 14-yard touchdown.
The first half lacked much offense at all, as the two teams entered the half tied at 3-3. Ward did pull out a gutsy fake spike call late in the first half, although it eventually failed and then Romo missed a 34-yard field goal right before the half.
For Ward, it looked like it was going to be a successful head coaching debut until his defense collapsed late in the game. All coaches in the XFL are mic’d up, and Ward was caught playfully disagreeing with XFL VP of Officiating Dean Blandino about a pass that was ruled incomplete to tight end Alize Mack, another former Steelers player.
Other players who spent time with Pittsburgh in the game include Battlehawks running back Mateao Durant (six receiving yards), Battlehawks linebacker Travis Feeney (two tackles) and Brahmas punter Brad Wing (two punts for 78 yards).
Hopefully for Ward, the Brahmas find more success in the future. It was a brutal way to lose, especially as a first-time head coach, especially because San Antonio had pretty much dominated St. Louis for the majority of the game. If Ward can get a little bit more out of his offense, San Antonio could make some noise in the XFL.