Josh Johnson threw for 278 yards and three touchdowns, two to Tre McBride, as the Los Angeles Wildcats defeated the DC Defenders, 39-9, Sunday for their first victory.
Martez Carter ran 1 yard for a touchdown in the second quarter, caught an 18-yard pass from Johnson for a third-quarter score and ran 20 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown for the Wildcats (1-2) before a crowd at Dignity Health Sports Park announced at 12,211.
The Wildcats had an announced crowd of 14,979 at the 27,000-seat stadium for their home opener last Sunday against the Dallas Renegades.
Johnson completed 18 of 25 passes as the Wildcats outgained the Defenders, 334 yards to 290, and led 17-16 in first downs but trailed 34:07-25:53 in time of possession.
DC entered Sunday’s game allowing a league-low 9.5 points per game. It recorded the league’s first shutout Feb. 15 in a 27-0 victory over the New York Guardians.
The Defenders (2-1) were held to Ty Rausa’s 32-yard field goal 28 seconds before halftime and Nick Brossette’s 38-yard touchdown run with seven minutes, 23 to play. DC entered Sunday’s play averaging 29 points per game, second in the eight-team XFL behind Houston’s 33-point average.
Former Los Angeles Charger Cardale Jones completed 13 of 26 passes for 103 yards DC. He had four passes intercepted and was sacked three times after being sacked once in the Defenders’ first two games. Jones’ 511 passing yards led the XFL entering Saturday’s play.
The Wildcats’ defense allowed a league-high 277.5 passing yards per game entering Saturday’s play.
The Wildcats opened the scoring on the game’s first possession on Johnson’s 40-yard touchdown pass to McBride. After being forced to punt on their next two possessions, the Wildcats scored touchdowns on three consecutive possessions to increase their lead to 27-0 with 4:44 left in the first half.
Larry Rose ran 1 yard for a touchdown with 14:20 remaining in the second quarter, five plays after cornerback Mike Stevens intercepted a pass by Jones at the Defenders’ 28-yard line. Carter caught a pass from Johnson for a 2-point conversion.
Johnson threw a 28-yard pass to McBride with 8:40 to play in the first half to complete a seven-play, 42 yard drive.
The Wildcats capitalized on Hunter Niswander’s botched punt attempt for their next touchdown. With Jack Tocho rushing in, Niswander did not attempt to get off a punt. The ball became free with Tocho recovering it at DC’s 10-yard line, then returning it 6 yards.
Carter ran 1 yard for a touchdown two plays later. Rose ran for a 1-point conversion.
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