Last-Minute Comeback Spoils Hines Ward’s XFL Coaching Debut
The head coaching debut for former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward ended in heartbreak, as the St. Louis Battlehawks came from behind to beat Ward’s San Antonio Brahmas, 18-15 in their XFL season openers on Sunday.
The Brahmas did not trail until 16 seconds remained in the fourth quarter, when St. Louis quarterback A.J. McCarron hit Austin Proehl for a 14-yard touchdown to put the Battlehawks ahead.
A.J. McCarron was absolutely lights out late in the 4th for the St. Louis Battlehawks and this throw to Austin Proehl for the go-ahead TD was nice! #XFL @XFLBattlehawks pic.twitter.com/iIc9RapaP8
— Kevin Gray Jr. (@KevinGraySports) February 19, 2023
McCarron, a former Alabama and Cincinnati Bengals quarterback, finished 18 of 27 for 190 yards and two touchdowns.
San Antonio built its lead with three John Parker Romo field goals and a touchdown pass from Jack Coan to Fred Brown. After the final Romo field goal, San Antonio had a 15-3 lead with just 3:02 left to play. McCarron led an 8-play, 71-yard touchdown drive that was capped with an 18-yard pass to Hakeem Butler.
Instead of an onside kick, XFL rules allow a team to attempt one offensive down on a 4th and 15 at their own 25. St. Louis converted, with McCarron hitting Proehl for a 22-yard completion. A 15-yard penalty then got the Battlehawks up near midfield. McCarron was 5 of 6 for 59 yards on the final drive.
Former Steelers running back Kalen Ballage was the Brahmas’ workhorse, rushing 24 times for 84 yards. He also caught three passes for 13 yards. Former Steelers tight end Alizé Mack caught three passes for nine yards.
For St. Louis, former Steelers running back Mataeo Durant had three carries for no yards.
Ward’s Brahmas will keep looking for his first head coaching win next weekend when they visit Orlando next Sunday at 4 p.m.
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