June 10, 2023

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The Rebels upset the defensemen to claim the unlikely XFL title

The Rebels upset the defensemen to claim the unlikely XFL title

The Arlington Renegades, led by quarterback Luis Perez, captured the XFL championship by upsetting the DC Defenders 35-26 to complete their improbable run.

The Renegades entered the playoffs with a losing record (4-6) but were able to win the championship against the Defenders who went 10-1.

Perez carried the Renegades offense going 26-for-36 for 288 yards with three touchdowns. He was named MVP of the game.

Coached by former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, the Renegades, who won a national championship with the Sooners in 2000, captured the first championship of the newly reimagined XFL under the new ownership group led by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Dany Garcia and RedBird Capital partners.

The Rebels’ season changed course once they were traded to the Vegas Vipers for Perez in Week 7. Prior to the tournament, they had not won straight games all season and traded wins and losses in the first six weeks.

The biggest reason was the Rebels’ struggling offense, which had averaged 13 points per game prior to the Perez trade. Once a regular starter, Perez increased the Rebels’ scoring to 19.8 points per game and their yards per game increased to 343 points.

The wins didn’t come right away as they went 1-2 in Perez’s starts. Although they had a sub-. 500 record in the regular season, they made the post-season as they finished second in the South Division.

Once the postseason hit, the Rebels flipped the switch, starting with the Southern Division championship. They pulled off an upset win by defeating the #1 ranked Houston Roughnecks as Perez threw for 289 yards and three touchdown passes.

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And that same momentum continued throughout the championship game.

The Rebels jumped out to a 20-6 halftime lead as they scored twice in the first two drives. Their defense complemented the offense as it held the Defenders, who averaged 30.5 points a game, to six points in the first half—the second-lowest score of the season.

But in the third quarter, the Defenders scored 14 points, starting running back Abram Smith sparking the offense when he rushed fourth down for 52 yards on a first drive. Then several drives later, quarterback Jordan Taamo threw a 72-yard touchdown to wide receiver Josh Hammond to cut the Renegades’ lead to 26-20.

However, Perez threw a 30-yard touchdown to running back Lady Brown to push the lead to 32-20 as the quarter ended.

Once in the fourth quarter, the Rebels held the defensemen up to six points on their way to capturing the title.