A change was inevitable.
After recording two first downs and only 27 passing yards in the first half, Head coach Zorn decided at halftime to make the switch from quarterback Brandon Silvers to B.J. Daniels. “It was a super hard decision because it was not all on Brandon [Silvers],” said Zorn. “[Silvers] did not fail, we just needed to give the team something different.”
“Certainly B.J. [Daniels] has the wheels to make someone miss, and did,” said Zorn. “It ignited the team in both the run game and the passing game.”
In what is a common theme for the Dragons, the next half was completely different. Sometimes the first half is way better, sometimes it’s the second, but it seems like the Dragons struggle to put two good halves together each week. Today, all the life came after the injection of Daniels at quarterback to start the second half. “[Daniels] gave our team a spark,” said Zorn. “He kept it going too, it was not just one drive.”
Daniels completed a long 57 yard pass to wide receiver Alonzo Moore and a ten yard touchdown to tight end Evan Rodriguez, but a big chunk of his production came on the ground. Daniels rushed for 84 yards on seven carries and the threat of him running is what set up plays like the big 57 yard completion. “He (Daniels) uses his legs very well,” said Zorn. “He made some great decisions running the ball.”
This was an offense that was struggling to do just about everything: stay ahead of the chains, convert third downs to stay on the field (other than the first half versus the Renegades) and produce big plays. While Daniels was not perfect, only boasting a 50% completion rate, he provided life to this dormant offense.
After getting slayed in the first half, the Dragons came roaring back and made it a game. The Dragons eventually fell short but fans have something to be excited about because this was a good performance (with Daniels in) against a top team in a tough environment. “I think we picked up our energy in the second half and really tried to make it a game,” said Daniels.
St. Louis BattleHawks head coach Johnathon Hayes had to make adjustments to limit the impact Daniels had. “It changed our approach on how we had to attack them,” said Hayes. “Give the kid [Daniels] credit, he made some plays.”
The BattleHawks, led by the dynamic quarterback, Jordan Ta’amu, had a balanced offensive attack and were able to pile up almost 400 yards of offense. Hayes had high praise for Ta’amu after the game. “[Ta’amu] is good at overcoming adversity, he keeps a cool head and we communicate very well,” said Hayes. “I trust him, and he knows that.”
Ta’amu accounted for a lot of that 400 yards of production, rushing for 63 yards and passing for 264. De’Mornay Pierson-El was the leading receiver with 71 yards and a touchdown on five catches. Ta’amu did spread the ball around a little, though, as four BattleHawk receivers recorded 40+ yards. “I’m not the type to favor one receiver,” said Ta’amu. “These guys just did a great job of getting open and the offensive line did a great job of protecting.”
“My job is to just sit back, give them the ball and watch them do work,” said Ta’amu. “Spreading the ball around is the beauty of our offense.”
A positive going into the last drive was that the Dragons did not turn the ball over. Unfortunately, on the last drive, Dragon fans saw something they have seen too much – a miscommunication which led to an interception. “We had split safeties so Austin [Proehl] was running down the middle of the field and I thought we would have an opportunity to gash them,” said Daniels. “There was an opportunity there and we just did not connect on it.”
Zorn also commented on the aforementioned interception. “[Daniels] would like to have that back,” said Zorn. “[Daniels] saw a space and unfortunately the receiver was not looking.”
“[Daniels] had hoped the receiver would turn around and see it,” said Zorn. “But [Proehl] never turned around.”
The loss was obviously disappointing but this team played better under Daniels. Regardless of how you look at it, next week is almost a must win game as falling to 1-4 would be difficult to come back from. However, the Renegades are a tough task and it should be a battle. If the Dragons are able to pull out a win, they are firmly in contention for the second seed in the west. The BattleHawks are sitting pretty on top of the East.
Until next week, Go Dragons!
17-year-old football fan. Team Reporter for Seattle XFL.