Recap: Tampa Bay Vipers fall to the LA Wildcats

Tampa Bay Vipers quarterback Taylor Cornelius (Credit: XFL.com)

The 1-3 Tampa Bay Vipers traveled to Dignity Health Sports Park to take on the 1-3 LA Wildcats. Taylor Cornelius and the Vipers look to continue the momentum after last week’s big win over DC.

It didn’t take long for the Vipers to take charge as DB Robert Priester picked off the Wildcat’s quarterback Josh Johnson on the first play of the game. Tampa Bay would capitalize with an Andrew Frank field goal to take the 3-0 lead.

The Wildcats Patrick Vahe had a bad snap to QB Josh Johnson, the fumble was recovered by Vipers DT Sean Bowman with 2:17 left in the first quarter. Tampa Bay QB Taylor Cornelius would execute a fake handoff and run the ball in for a 2-yard touchdown run to the right side of the endzone. De’Veon Smith would pick up the 1 pt conversion, putting Tampa Bay up 17-0 with 14:00 left to play in the second quarter.

The LA offense would put six on the board with a DuJuan Harris 1-yard touchdown run. During the next drive, the Vipers would punt the ball away to LA’s WR Tre McBride. Viper’s FS Micah Hannemann would knock the ball out of T.McBride hands, causing a fumble that was then recovered by Tampa Bay’s LB Emmanuel Beal on the LA 27. The Vipers would capitalize on a Taylor Cornelius 16-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Tolliver in the back of the endzone. The Vipers would come up clean with a successful 1 pt conversion to put them up 24-6 with 6:28 left in the second quarter.

The Wildcats would turn off the Vipers momentum and would take the lead LA 27, Tampa Bay 24 with two touchdowns just before halftime and a big scoring drive in the third quarter taking the lead.

The Vipers would tack on 10 more points with an Andrew Frank 25-yard field goal, a Taylor Cornelius passing touchdown to WR Reece Horn, and a De’Veon Smith 1 pt successful conversion; but it was too late. LA had found their niche and continued feeding off each other’s energy after taking the lead in the third quarter.

Quarterback for Tampa Bay Taylor Cornelius would throw 22-34 with 300 yards passing, he had 2 passing touchdowns and 1 rushing touchdown. Unfortunately, Cornelius would throw two interceptions and one being picked off in the endzone with 37 seconds left in the fourth quarter that could have helped the Vipers to a win.

The Vipers had 40 rushing attempts for 142 yards. De’Veon Smith would lead the team tonight with 69 yards rushed after Jacques Patrick left the game with an injury. Patrick had 23 yards rushing and 1 touchdown.

The Vipers have now fallen to a record of 1-4 with a final score of Wildcats 41, Vipers 34.

Recap: The Vipers see some light at the end of the tunnel

Tampa Bay running back Jacques Patrick recovers after carrying the ball. (Credit: XFL.com

The Tampa Bay Vipers may have seen some light at the end of the tunnel just as hopes for a successful 2020 season started to come to a close. The Vipers went into week 4 with zero wins on the season against Cardale Jones and the DC Defenders but struck first scoring which then leads to a start to finish momentum that drove the Vipers to their first win with a shutout score of Vipers 25, DC 0.

The Vipers had two rushing touchdowns; one being runningback Jacques Patrick who picked up an 8-yard touchdown on a handoff in the 1st quarter and QB Taylor Cornelius who scrambled to the right side and ran the ball into the endzone as he powered through a defender to put the Vipers up 13-0 in the 3rd quarter.

The Vipers had one passing touchdown as Taylor Cornelius found #80 TE DeAndre Goolsby for a 13-yard touchdown pass in the 2nd quarter. Goolsby had 3 receptions on the day for 41 yards.

Tampa Bay’s kicker Andrew Frank made 2/3 field goals on Sunday night. The missed field goal was a 31-yard field goal that missed wide right.

Defenders quarterback Cardale Jones completed 9 of 22 passes for 72 yards with a completion rate of 41% and threw 1 interception that was picked off by Vipers CB Tarvarus McFadden.

The Vipers defense managed to put a hold not only on Jones passing game but also on the Defenders running game. DC rushed the ball for a total of 46 yards in 13 attempts during Sunday night’s game (before week 4 DC averaged 30.3 rush attempts per game).

DC has now dropped 2 straight road games to winless teams and may have to reconsider how they prepare for road games. DC has a record of 2-2 on the season and things aren’t looking good as head coach Pep Hamilton and the Defenders travels back home to face the talented 3-1 St. Louis Battlehawks in week 5.

The Vipers offense was much different than what we’ve witnessed in the previous weeks. QB Quinton Flowers was listed as inactive (roster exemption) and Aaron Murray was listed as active but is still coming off of a knee injury; giving Taylor Cornelius the start again at quarterback. Cornelius completed 24-31 passes with a total of 211 yards and 1 interception. Cornelius constantly threw the ball short and let his receivers get the yards after the catch. This worked well for the passing game for the Vipers and they cut down heavily on miss throws. Taylor Cornelius also used his feet to move the ball on 4 rushing attempts for 36 yards and 1 touchdown.

The Vipers running back duo; Jacques Patrick and De’Veon Smith showed their talents once again as they raised the bar with a combined 230 yards rushed. Patrick ran for a total of 108 yards and 1 TD on 21 carries. Smith carried the ball 122 yards on 24 attempts.

Tampa Bay defensive standout was DE Obum Gwacham who had 1 sack, 2 tackles, and 1 blocked field goal that was recovered by the Vipers FS Micah Hannemann.

Tampa Bay needs to keep the momentum going on the road as they travel to LA this week to face off against the Wildcats. Both teams are 1-3 on the season and the Vipers look to have found some team chemistry and hope to finish better than how they started this season.

Pre-Game: The Vipers matchup against the Defenders

As the Vipers welcome in the DC Defenders in week four at Tampa Bay’s Raymond James Stadium; the Defenders look to pick up win number three after they lost in the previous week against the now 1-2 LA Wildcats. 

The Defenders look for quarterback Cardale Jones to have a better game this week as he suffered his first loss of the season against LA  where he threw four interceptions and had a completion rate of fifty percent. Jones, a former Ohio State Buckeyes and 4th round draft pick in the 2016 NFL Draft is not shy to success and looks to brush off last week’s 9-39 loss. 

The Defenders have used rushing the ball to their advantage, giving 10 different players the opportunity to execute the run play for a total of 91 rushing attempts and 376 total rushing yards this season. The Vipers will need to have a strong defense of line this week if they want to stop the run.

Going into week four of the XFL, the DC Defenders defense has been strong for the first two games as CB Elijah Campbell blocked a punt and was then recovered by LB Jonathan Celestin for DC’s first-ever touchdown. The Defenders defense also intercepted two of QB Brandon Silvers passes, giving DC the win over the Seattle Dragons 31-19 in week one. In the following week against the New York Guardians, the defense had two interceptions, one touchdown and had a forced recovered fumble in week two while not allowing New York to score. Things fell apart as the undefeated DC defense traveled to the 0-2 LA Wildcat’s Dignity Health Sports Park. The Defenders couldn’t figure things out defensively as they couldn’t stop the Wildcats QB, Josh Johnson. DC allowed 39 points in week three, coming up short in their first loss. The Defenders look to bounce back on top as they look to give the Vipers their fourth straight loss.

The Tampa Bay Vipers will need to figure out there QB situation going into week four as Aaron Murray looks to possibly play this week after being sidelined with a foot injury. The past three weeks the Vipers have failed to get there first win this season and a lot has to do with a quarterback controversy that head coach Marc Trestman seems to struggle with.

The Vipers have a strong running game with fan-favorite backup QB Quinton Flowers who is quick on his feet when he gets the opportunity to play and with running back duo Deveon Smith and Jaques Patrick, who are both top 5 in the league in total yards rushing. 

Tampa Bay is going to need to look towards their defense in order to come up on top in this week four matchup against DC. The Vipers as a team have allowed a total of 74 points against them this season. The Vipers man to man coverage has looked weak, especially after last week’s loss against the Houston Roughnecks. The Vipers failed to stop QB PJ Walker and his sidekick two time XFL Star of the Week WR Cam Phillips. The Vipers defense allowed Phillips to catch three-TD passes and have a total of 194 yards receiving.

Both teams look to bounce back after a disappointing week three loss. 

Tampa Bay gets a taste of fan favorite Quinton Flowers

XFL Tampa Bay QB Quinton Flowers #9 (Credit: XFL.com)

As #9 jogs onto the field with 3:30 left in the 1st quarter of week three’s XFL match-up of the Houston Roughnecks vs Tampa Bay Vipers, the Raymond James Stadium crowd erupted into applause. There’s no question that the Vipers fans want the ex-Miami Jackson Senior High graduate and ex-USF graduate to be taking the snaps as starting quarterback. Quinton Flowers, a 5th round pick by the Tampa Bay Vipers in the XFL Draft, has no doubt become a fan favorite. 

Quinton Flowers, a dynamic running quarterback went 4 for 6 with 51 yards passing and 29 yards rushing with 1 TD. Flowers left nothing behind as he ran a QB keeper into the Vipers endzone and slams his helmet on the ground in celebration for the first-ever rushing and offensive touchdown for the Vipers organization.

It’s hard to say if Flowers has earned the starting spot over Taylor Cornelius while Aaron Murray is sidelined with a foot injury. But has Flowers had enough snaps to prove himself yet? Tampa Bay’s fan base has let head coach Marc Trestman know how they feel, as the Florida native is sidelined for most of the second half of the game. Its no question that Tampa wants Flowers in at QB and Trestman out as a head coach.

The Vipers managed to consistently score more with the quarterback rotation but Trestman stuck with Cornelius and the Vipers managed to come up short 34-27 in the home opener in front of 18,117 fans against the Houston Roughnecks.

We look to see what the Vipers head coach Marc Trestman does next week as they invite the DC Defenders to Raymond James Stadium next week on March 1.

Vipers look to stop undefeated Roughnecks in home opener

The Tampa Bay Vipers have struggled scoring as they invite the undefeated 2-0 Houston Roughnecks into Raymond James Stadium for week three this Saturday. The Vipers are 0-2 and have yet to show what they’re made of as they dropped their first two games. If Tampa Bay wants to pick up their first win they need a game plan to stop the talented Roughneck offense ran by dual threat quarterback PJ Walker.

The Roughnecks are ranked No.1 in the XFL averaging 32.5 points a game and Walker has a lot to do with Houston’s success so far. Walker has a lot of different targets to throw to, as he’s connected with nine different receivers in two games. When Walker doesn’t have any receivers open, he has the ability to scramble outside of the pocket and run. Walker has a total of 53 rushing yards and 442 passing yards (ranked #3 in the XFL in passing yards). So far PJ Walker and Roughnecks head coach June Jones have dominated the first two games of the season and are making a name for the Houston organization in the XFL.

The Vipers will need to figure out their quarterback controversy and focus on their passing game if they want a shot at taking down the 2-0 Houston Roughnecks. Tampa Bay has a steady defense with former FSU alumni Tarvarus McFadden at cornerback. McFadden intercepted Seattle’s quarterback Brandon Silvers thrown pass and ran it back for the Vipers first ever touchdown.

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Along with McFadden at CB, Tampa Bay has FS Marcelis Branch with 17 tackles going into week three.

Although the Vipers offense has struggled, they’ve got a running back duo like no other. Jaques Patrick and De’veon Smith both have 100+ yards. Both RB are in the top 5 in yards rushed in the XFL and hope to explode throughout the season.

As we head into week three at home, the Vipers will look to score the first offensive touchdown of the season and hopefully determine a set starting quarterback.

Kick-off is Saturday at 2 p.m. EST and coverage is on ABC.