XFL Week 8: NY/NJ Hitmen vs Orlando Rage

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The Orlando Rage jumped on the Hitmen early and held on late to beat NY 17 to 12 in front of 20,000 Rage fans. Orlando was coming off a demoralizing loss to LA in their previous game, they lost their leader Jeff Brohm and the Hitmen were looking to avenge an early season defeat at the hands of the Rage. The task wasn't supposed to be easy and the game didn't start out easy for the Hitmen. They made things hard on themselves all game. The Rage struck NY early and fast when Brian Shay returned the opening kickoff 95 yards down to the Hitmen 1 yard line. It only took 1 play from scrimmage to score as Derrick Clark ran off the right side to give Orlando a 6-0 advantage. The Rage converted the extra point with a pass from Brian Kuklick to Kevin Swayne which gave the Rage a 7-0 lead only 43 seconds into the game.

The Hitmen tried to answer the Rage's early score on their first offensive drive. They looked good early, getting 3 first downs, then a big James Roberson sack put the Hitmen back into 3rd and long. The Hitmen went to their bag of tricks early with a quick kick punt. The play failed and this would become an ongoing theme for the Hitmen on this day. Orlando was shut down by the New York defense on their next possession. The NY offense once again failed to respond and were forced to punt. Shannon Culver returned a Leo Araguz punt 64 yards for a touchdown, the play however was called back due to offsetting penalties. The Hitmen dodged a bullet with that play. Maybe the called back return effected Orlando because on their very next play, Brian Kuklick fumbled the center exchange and the football was picked up and returned 43 yards for a touchdown by Ron Merkerson. NY/NJ failed to convert the extra point but the score was now, Orlando 7 NY/NJ 6.

With under 5 minutes left in the game, This was crunch time for NY's defense. The Rage managed to garner a first down and milk some time off the clock but the Hitmen defense held again and forced Orlando to punt. Kirby Dar Dar returned a Taylor punt 16 yards to set up the Hitmen at their own 34 with 1:41 remaining. It seemed like history was going to repeat itself. This was exactly how things unfolded last week vs Memphis. On 1st down, Wally connected with Michael Blair for 8 yards. Clock running, Wally hits Anthony Dicosmo for a big first down completion to The Orlando 46 yard line with 1:16 left in the game.

Then disaster struck the Hitmen as Wally Richardson was chased by James Roberson in the backfield and was forced to throw the football away. Wally threw the ball away and avoided the sack but he didn't avoid disaster as he landed hard and sprained his left knee. Richardson limped off the field and was out of the game and he could miss next weeks game which would hurt their playoff chances. Charles Puleri came in and he threw two completions and failed to keep the drive alive for NY. The game was over. Orlando 17 New York 12.

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