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Guardians outmatched in 27-0 blowout loss against D.C.

After an impressive Week 1 win, New York could not find their footing in Washington as they fell to the Defenders.

After last week’s win against Tampa Bay, the New York Guardians headed to the nation’s capital to take on the 1-0 Defenders on Saturday. While the story against the Vipers was their defense, the Guardians knew they needed to do more on offense to counter Cardale Jones and the explosive D.C. offense. 

Unfortunately for New York, the Defenders continued to show why they may be the best team in the XFL. 

The Guardians were dominated throughout as they fell to Defenders 27-0 on Saturday afternoon at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. 

From the opening kickoff, it seemed as if New York was not clicking on offense. They went three-and-out on their first possession of the game. After a 41-yard punt from Justin Vogel, Jones and the Defenders marched down the field on an 11-play, 80-yard drive. Former Penn State standout Deandre Thompkins scored on a 13-yard reception to put D.C. ahead in the first quarter. 

From there, the bottom fell out from under the Guardians. Over their next five possessions, New York gained just 32 yards and punted three times. Overall, the Guardians gained only 137 yards of total offense as Matt McGloin struggled against the ferocious Defenders defense. Defensive lineman Anthony Johnson, who was acquired by D.C. on Friday from Los Angeles, picked up 1.5 sacks in his D.C. debut. 

On the other side, the Defenders picked up where they left off after their Week 1 win over Seattle. They scored on their first two possessions. They could have gotten more during the game if not for odd playcalling deep in Guardians’ territory on numerous drives. The DC defense also picked up a defensive touchdown as linebacker Jameer Thurman returned a McGloin pass 46 yards for a score. 

Cardale Jones continued his early campaign for XFL MVP, going 23-of-37 for 276 yards and two touchdowns. The Guardians, who picked up five sacks in Week 1, finished with no sacks against Jones and the surprisingly disciplined D.C. offensive line. New York also struggled against D.C.’s running game as the Defenders picked up 108 yards on the ground. 

“I thought they (Guardians defense) played inspired football, it’s not wasted,” said Guardians head coach Kevin Gilbride. “The effort that was put forth… it was quite an example of how to go about your business. Knowing the character that was demonstrated today, I would be very, very surprised if we don’t rally around each other and come back ready to play next week.”

McGloin finished 8-of-19 for just 44 yards and two inceptions and a lost fumble. Throughout the game, the Guardians quarterback never had the time to get settled and find receivers as many of his completions were short-yardage passes under duress. There were also moments where McGloin appeared to miss receivers deep down the field in favor of short passes. Add in an almost non-existent running game and it was a game to forget for the Guardians.

“I’m disappointed with how we played, and that’s on me… When you play as poorly as we did today, one of two things is going to happen,’ said Gilbride. “You will either recognize that this wasn’t good enough and you’re going to dig down deeper and you’re going to rally each other and inspire each other… Or you splinter apart.”

With 1:24 remaining, the Defenders became the first team to attempt the three-point extra point from the ten-yard line. The conversion was unsuccessful as Jones’ pass fell incomplete. 

The story as the game went on was the frustration McGloin showed many times during the loss. Prior to entering the locker room for halftime, McGloin told ESPN’s Dianna Russini that the Guardians needed to change their entire game plan in the second half. McGloin’s frustration only grew in the second half as cameras caught him on the sidelines speaking to a teammate. 

“At no point at any time did I think we would be successful,” said McGloin speaking about Saturday’s game. “This is the worst game I’ve ever been a part of.” The former Penn State quarterback was replaced by backup quarterback Marquise Williams in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach. 

“I think sometimes when you’re frustrated, things come out that upon further reflection you wish didn’t come out,” said Gilbride.

What’s Next For The Guardians

New York (1-1) hits the road as they face the St. Louis BattleHawks at The Dome. Game time is 3 p.m., and the game can be seen on ESPN.

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Kahlil Thomas

Kahlil is the College Sports Editor for as well as a columnist, hosting the Bump 'N Run column once per week. He also co-hosts a weekly basketball podcast, The Box Out, every Thursday evening with fellow writer Jason Cordner.
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