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The Houston Roughnecks of the XFL moved to 4-0 on the season with a dominant win over the Orlando Guardians on Saturday night. Their 44-point offensive onslaught was the highest single-team scoring total of the year thus far and it came with a tribute to the late Mike Leach.
Unlike the NFL, the XFL’s funky rules allow teams to throw more than one forward pass on the same play. If the first forward pass is caught behind the line of scrimmage, the player who caught that first pass can then turn around and throw a second forward pass.
It looks highly illegal, but it’s not. And the trick play worked to perfection for Houston.
Late in the first quarter, already ahead 14-0, the Roughnecks lined up in the shotgun just beyond the 50-yard-line. Quarterback Brandon Silvers, the early favorite for league MVP and former Troy Trojan, dropped back and dumped the ball off over the middle.
Former LSU wide receiver Jontre Kirklin caught the screen inside the line of scrimmage with no one there to guard him. He had a full pocket of his own, essentially.
As the Orlando defense slowly closed in, Kirklin looked downfield and unleashed a bomb to a wide-open Deontay Burnett, the former Southern California pass-catcher. There was no one within five yards of the Houston receiver, and as the coaching staff went crazy in the box, he took the double pass to the house for six.
Following the game, which the Roughnecks won 44-16, offensive coordinator A.J. Smith spoke to the quirky set of rules in the XFL that allowed his team to score on a play that would not have been legal in any other league. He said that the play was four years in the making.
Mike Leach was the inspiration for the quirky XFL touchdown!
Smith had worked with Leach prior to the league’s first reboot in 2020, and noticed that the late coaching legend ran a lot of short screens over the middle. Taking that iteration of Leach’s offense, coupled with the XFL’s rules, made for the double forward pass on Saturday.
Houston, to honor Leach, named the play after him.
Although Leach didn’t get to see the play work to perfection, his legacy lives on in a unique and unusual way. He made his mark on the college game and the NFL, and now he has left his mark on the XFL.
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No one cares attendance and TV viewing is terrible for this league