The UFL | Phillips Debuts a New-look San Antonio Brahmas Team in 27-12 Season Opening Win Over the D.C. Defenders


SAN ANTONIO Wade Phillips, the head coach of the San Antonio Brahmas, confidently told football fans that a new style of football would be coming to Alamo City on several occasions. In his words, a new style of football, including the Mike Leach air raid and the Phillips Defense was coming. Phillips, along with his coaching staff, introduced a new-look San Antonio Brahmas team on Sunday. The Brahmas (1-0, 1-0 XFL) led from start to finish in holding off the D.C. Defenders, 27-12,  in front of 13,164 fans on Easter Sunday at the Alamodome in the inaugural United Football League (UFL) opener for both teams.

Chase Garbers, the Brahmas’ new quarterback, made his debut. He completed 76 percent of the passes he attempted while going 19-of-25 with 158 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also scored on the ground. Jordan Williams, who was the XFL’s top tackler in 2023 with 10 tackles, repeated his feat.

A special teams play that involved punter Brad Wing and center Alex Mollette, who was playing at the start of the halftime period, sent shockwaves across the Alamodome and went viral immediately on social media. The play ended with Mollette catching a 40-yard touchdown pass from Wing. It was one of the most memorable plays in UFL history and possibly even in spring football.

The Brahmas lined up for  a 57-yard field goal attempt by Donald De La Haye, but Wing popped up from his holder position while De La Haye, who played a little receiver at UCF, motioned out to receiver. Wing took the snap. He rolled his body to the right and lofted the pass to Mollette, who caught it on the 15-yard line. The rest of the score gave San Antonio a 20-9 advantage heading into the locker rooms. 

San Antonio opened the scoring with its first touchdown of the year when Garbers found Anthony McFarland Jr. with 9:08 remaining in the first quarter, putting the home side ahead, 7-0. Garbers’s 4-yd TD pass to Jontre Kirklins resulted in a 14-3 victory for the home team. Matt McCrane, the kicker for D.C. Defenders, connected on three field goal attempts in the first half – one each of 50 yards and 34 yards.

Defenses settled down in the second half. McCrane’s 28-yard field goal was his fourth, and it brought the Defenders to within 20-12.

D.C. (1-0, 0-1 XFL), appeared to be on the offensive again in fourth quarter. Keke Coutee, the Defenders quarterback, caught a touchdown pass of 8 yards from Jordan Ta’amu with 10:47 to go in the game. 

The Defenders received a flag for a dead ball personal foul, which would have allowed them to be accessed. Andre Gurode and five-time Pro Bowler of the Dallas Cowboys encouraged Phillips to challenge a false start by right tackle Jean Delance. The Brahmas won the challenge and the touchdown was negated. 

Four plays later, Brahmas cornerback Darius Phillips picked off Ta’amu on the D.C. 6 yard line and returned the ball 88 yards. Three plays later Garbers ran in a 5-yard TD to put the Brahmas up 27-12.

D.C. overpowered the Brahmas, 183-34. San Antonio had three sacks in the second half, and also the interception. Tim Ward, Prince Emili & Wyatt Ray had each a sack. Ray finished the game with two sacks.

Ta’amu finished with 235 yards on 25 of 45 passes and an interception. Ty Scott led the Defenders in catches with four for 87 yard. Jontre’ Kirklin, of San Antonio, had an eight-reception game high for 61 yards. McFarland rushed for 47 yards on 9 carries, the most of any rusher. 

De La Haye made his much-anticipated debut on the field with five kickoffs totaling 371 yards. This was an average of 74.2 yards. 

San Antonio is on the road next week as they travel to Memphis Showboats to play at 11 a.m. CT next Saturday. D.C. is hosting the Houston Roughnecks. The game will start at 4 p.m. Next Sunday, ET will be broadcast on FOX.


Final Score: San Antonio Brahmas 27, D.C. Defenders 12

Sharp Start

San Antonio’s season-opening drive ended with a touchdown, as quarterback Chase Garbers lofted the ball into the arms and legs of running back Anthony McFarland Jr. The Brahmas led 7-0 with 9:08 left in the first quarter after a 5-minute and 52-second drive. 

Texas Trickery

Brahmas centre Alex Mollette caught Brad Wing’s 40-yard touchdown on a long-distance fake field goal. Wing, who had played five seasons in the NFL with the Steelers and Giants, had only attempted one pass in his professional  career, which was intercepted. San Antonio led 20-9 with three seconds left in the first half. 

Defending the Defenders

D.C. managed to get 253 yards of total offense and 16 first-downs, but they were limited to only four field goals. San Antonio was perfect at defending the red area, as they went 3-for-3 to keep the Defenders out. D.C. was in the red zone on their third trip and had a shot to tie the game, but San Antonio’s cornerback Darius Phillips intercepted it and returned it for 88 yards.

Go for It

While the Brahmas converted only 1-of-7 attempts on 3rd Down, they made it up by converting 3-of-4 attempts on 4th Down. This includes a touchdown of 40 yards scored after a faked field goal attempt. 

Home Field Advantage

San Antonio’s first home win in the year 2024 was due to the official attendance of 13,164 for the season opener. The Brahmas only home victory in 2023 was against the XFL Orlando Guardians 25-23 on April 15, 2020. 

De La Haye Debut

De La Haye’s debut on the field was filled with excitement. He kicked off five times for 371 yard, which is a 74.2 yard rate. His kickoffs, which he began from the 20-yard-line, landed at the D.C. 2 yard line, 15 yard line, end zone line, 7-yard-line and 5-yard-line.


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