Video Credit: XFL/ESPN

FSM Essential Recap: Vipers vs Battlehawks – XFL Week 8

Vegas Vipers (2-5) | St. Louis Battlehawks (5-2)

Franchise Sports Media


The Vegas Vipers took on the St. Louis Battlehawks Saturday. Heartbreakingly the Fang Gang fell short 21-17 in OT.

The Vipers vs Battlehawks played a Week 8 game in St. Louis. 

Vipers vs Battlehawks Rod Woodson
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

It was Week 8 of the XFL regular season on Saturday, and the Vegas Vipers headed to St. Louis to take on the Battlehawks in a game that had both teams feeling spicy on social media. This is the second season meeting between the Battlehawks and Vipers and a rematch of a Week 6 matchup in Las Vegas that St. Louis won 29-6. Each team’s social media accounts were talking trash to the other heading into the game, and if that were any indication of how the game would play out, we would be entertained.

Both teams have flashed throughout the season, incredibly late in the Vipers‘ case, and this game had the promise to be a fun one to watch. Vegas had won 2 out of their last three games coming into the game and seemed to have found their QB1 in Jalan McClendon. Would the Vipers’ offense, led by McClendon, be able to penetrate the Battlehawks’ defense? Or would St. Louis’ balanced offensive attack, powered by ex-NFL players, be too much for the Fang Gang?

The Battlehawks scored at least 20 points in six straight games, ranking second in the league with 23.3 points per game. Vegas, meanwhile, has allowed 25.0 points per game, which are the most in the XFL North and second-most in the league. The St. Louis offense had an advantage on paper. But the new-look Vipers are led by a ground game that has been able to run through defenses in recent weeks. Add in McClendon’s passing ability, and all bets were off, and the over/under total of 46 was in play to be hit early in the first half.

The Battlehawks would return to The Dome at America’s Center, closing the regular season with a three-game homestand. The home crowd would be loud and into the game as they have been at every home game this season. The Battlehawks are averaging over 38,000 at their home games, giving them a clear home-field advantage. How would the Vipers and McCledon handle that type of environment? Would St. Louis be able to stop the Vegas ground game?

It was time for the Vipers vs Battlehawks to kick off.

First Half

The Vipers vs Battlehawks start of the first half. 

Vipers vs Battlehawks Rod Smith
Photo Credit: Dilip Vishwanat/XFL

It looked good early for the Vipers as they led for the entirety of the game. The team jumped out to a quick 8-0 on their first possession and limited the Battlehawks to only one possession in the first quarter. Vegas continued its trend by scoring on the team’s first or second possession when John Lovett ran it in from five yards out on the Vipers’ opening drive. Jalan McClendon found Martavis Bryant for the two-point conversion, giving Vegas the early lead.

After forcing a punt, Vegas took a methodical approach for the rest of the first quarter and used up the clock. The team opened the second quarter with a 23-yard field goal courtesy of new kicker Sam Sloman, who was acquired during the week.

Nearly four minutes later, St. Louis got on the board and converted its two-point conversion to make the score 11-8. Near the end of the quarter, Vegas attempted a fake field goal but could not convert on the play, and the teams went into halftime with the Vipers having an 11-8 lead.

The Vipers vs Battlehawks end of the first half. 

Second Half

The Vipers vs Battlehawks start of the second half. 

Vipers vs Battlehawks Nick Tiano
Photo Credit: Dilip Vishwanat/XFL

Following a scoreless third quarter, Vegas extended its lead when McClendon found Geronimo Allison for a 27-yard score. Still, the team could not convert the two-point conversion, giving the Vipers a nine-point lead with 7:09 remaining in the game.

St. Louis answered by scoring on a fake punt, resulting in a 64-yard touchdown. The Battlehawks had a chance to end the game in regulation but settled for a field goal with 15 seconds on the clock, forcing the first overtime in XFL history.

Vegas got the first possession in overtime. The teams would trade two-point conversion attempts from the five-yard line. The Vipers looked to have scored to open the extra session, but it was ruled that Cam Sutton was stopped short of the goal line. St. Louis converted on its first attempt to take its first lead of the game and had the advantage in the best-of-three overtime scenario.

McClendon found Martavis Bryant during Vegas’ second attempt, but the attempt was erased as Bryant was flagged for offensive pass interference. Following an unsportsmanlike penalty on the Vipers, the Battlehawks ran the ball in from two yards out, cementing the victory.

The Vipers vs Battlehawks’ final score was. 


Here are some Vipers vs Brahmas final thoughts. 

Vipers vs Brahmas Jalan McClendon
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

The Vipers’ offense seems to have found some rhythm with McClendon as the signal caller. McClendon finished 13-of-23 for 159 yards and a score and rushed for a team-high 62 yards on 13 carries. Rod Smith also added 51 rushing yards on 13 carries. Allison led the team in receiving with 44 yards on two catches and a touchdown.

The Vipers have been in many one-possession games and failed to hold the lead all season. But the Fang Gang seemed to find their identity with McClendon as the QB. They are a power-running team looking to control the clock and tempo of the game. Vipers head coach Rod Woodson mentioned this in the past, and it’s just too bad it took most of the season to figure it out.


Next Saturday, the Vipers travel to St. Louis to take on the Battlehawks.

The Vegas Vipers will be back in action next Saturday morning when they travel to Houston to take on the Roughnecks. Kick-off is at 9:30 am and can be seen on ABC. For Vipers ticket information or to buy season tickets for 2024, tap here.


-Joe Arrigo – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Joe on Twitter & Instagram at @JoeArrigoFSM

Follow The Franchise on social media