Vipers Lose but Win

By on February 23, 2020
USF’s Quinton Flowers with a Homegrown TD! (TRAVIS FAILEY PHOTO)

There’s a part in the classic sport movie “White Man Can’t Jump” where Rosie Perez states “Sometimes when you lose you actually win and sometimes when you actually win you lose.” Well on Saturday at Raymond James Stadium, The Tampa Vipers took a tough loss to the Houston Roughnecks 34-27 but the fans in the stands and the XFL as a whole were winners. 

Gang Green Tackle! (TRAVIS FAILEY PHOTO)

On a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Tampa, the Viper’s fans packed the parking lots early and then proceeded to get their tail gate game on in a big way.  There was food, games and booze and beer galore and a considerable amount of fans showing their Viper Pride all geared up in neon green and face paint.  To say that the almost 20,000 fans were fired up to support the new team in town would be an understatement.

(TRAVIS FAILEY PHOTO)

The fans also brought an attitude with them as on the second offensive drive after a field goal on the first, booed Vipers QB Taylor Cornelius pleading for Coach Trestman to replace him with former USF standout Quinton Flowers.  They got their wish and Flowers energized the team and the fans like he did when he was the QB of the USF Bulls. Mr. Electric took a page out of his old playbook with a QB option with a right roll out where Flowers planted and cut back to head forward into the endzone untouched. It was vintage Flowers with the 7 yard TD giving the Vipers a 10-9 lead after the 1 point conversion.

(TRAVIS FAILEY PHOTO)

Flowers stated “Just knowing that this is where you made history at and you continue to leave your legacy. Just going in that end zone I had to show my face, because this is home. This is my second home. These people believed in me – they stuck by me, and I’ll do whatever it takes to win and that’s all I try to do out there in front of the fans.”

Flowers was replaced by Cornelius after going three-and-out on the next series and didn’t play the rest of the game. The move was highly criticized especially after not tying the game with 4 downs to score from the 2 late in the game. The coaching staff didn’t do themselves any favors either by calling 3 straight pass plays out of shotgun formation instead of running the ball ala Pete Carroll.

Dan Williams dancing into the end zone (TRAVIS FAILEY PHOTO)

Houston’s coach June Jones on Flowers not coming back in “He was tough, running and throwing. … He creates so many things when he gets flushed. He made a couple of big-time plays when he was in there.”

Let’s not take away anything from the Roughnecks, they were an offensive juggernaut on Saturday. The Roughnecks are led by QB PJ Walker, who some compare to Lamar Jackson of the NFL Baltimore Ravens. Walker had a total of 4 TDs with 3 of them in the air and one on the ground. He also had a total of 306 yards passing and the three touchdowns went to Cam Phillips, who had eight catches for an XFL season-high 194 yards.

PJ Walker gets crushed (TRAVIS FAILEY PHOTO)

“I try to just prepare as best as I can,” said Walker, whose team stayed perfect on the season, improving to 3-0, as Houston holds the lead in the XFL West.

The Vipers had one more shot but confusion on the route by “I try to just prepare as best as I can,” said Walker, whose team stayed perfect on the season, improving to 3-0, as Houston holds the lead in the XFL West.

 The game was in doubt with Tampa Bay driving until Houston linebacker DeMarquis Gates picked off Vipers quarterback Taylor Cornelius. It was either a bad read or a bad route by the running back, but the pick assured the Vipers an 0-3 record to start the season

(TRAVIS FAILEY PHOTO)

You can’t blame the loss solely on the offense as they had their best game of the season. The defense struggled and gave up big plays when they could have gotten off the field. Roughnecks running back James Butler assisted Walker by gaining a game-high 72 yards rushing on seven carries and a score.

Even though the Vipers took another loss, the offense played much better and as a whole this team continues to be a work in progress from all departments.  The Viper fans were a bit dejected after the loss but overall had a great time at the game and even after as the parking lot parties continued into Saturday evening. The fans will get another chance to watch their team next Sunday night at 7 pm at Raymond James as the Vipers will host the DC Defenders.

For all game stats:

https://stats.xfl.com/9

For Full Travis Failey photo gallery:

 Meanwhile, the Vipers fell to 0-3 despite far and away their best effort of the season. The game was in doubt with Tampa Bay driving until Houston linebacker DeMarquis Gates picked off Vipers quarterback Taylor Cornelius with 1:05 to play to seal the game.

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