Jacksonville Sports Day

XFL: Tampa Bay Vipers’ Comeback Falls Short in Seattle Loss

Given how the rest of this one played out, it seems that Seattle Dragons receiver Justin Santiago’s 63-yard kickoff return did more than just motivate his team coming out of halftime.

It invigorated the Tampa Bay Vipers, as well, resulting in the two teams slugging it out until the closing seconds. But, in the end, it was the Dragons who flew past the Vipers and earned a 17-9 home victory, their first of the season.

Six plays following Santiago’s return, Vipers cornerback Tarvarus McFadden temporarily halted Seattle’s surge after picking off Dragons QB Brandon Silvers and taking it 78 yards to the promise land. It was Tampa’s first TD of the young season, and it gave them a 9-0 lead.

Apparently, McFadden’s big play awoke the sleeping Dragons as Silvers, after having just seen the deficit grow, raised the stakes with a deep shot to receiver Keenan Reynolds, who took it all the way for a 68-yard catch-and-run score.

Two short drives later, Dragons defensive end Marcel Frazier literally snatched control of the contest, picking off Vipers QB Quinton Flowers as he backpedaled 11 yards from Seattle’s endzone, and landing in the endzone to make 12-9 at the 5:27 mark of the third.

A successful two-point conversion upped the lead, and the teams would remain in a stalemate until late in the fourth when Dragons kicker Ernesto Lacayo converted a 27-yarder.

The Vipers attempted to come up in the clutch on the game’s final drive but a game-sealing pick on a Hail Mary by Dragons Kyle Queiro sealed the deal.

Reynolds earned game ball honors for Seattle, finishing with 87 yards and the TD. Silvers continued his lukewarm start to the year with 91 yards, a TD and pick on seven of 18 attempts.

For the Vipers, starting QB Taylor Cornelius went 16-of-27 for 154 yards and two INTs while Flowers, who spelled Cornelius at times and played some running back, went 3-of-7 for 43 yards.

Seattle’s defense recorded 11 tackles for a loss (three sacks)and six passes defensed. Linebacker Steven Johnson led the way with 10 tackles and two TFL.

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