Arlington Renegades vs. Birmingham Stallions @ Choctaw Stadium, Arlington, TX

Words and photos by Scott Rowe
After finding their stride in last year's playoffs, which ultimately led to the Renegades to become the XFL's first championship team, Coach Stoops and company are back to compete for another title. The crowds flowed into Choctaw Stadium, many covered in the team's signature baby blue, awaiting for their team to take on the USFL's back to back champions, the Birmingham Stallions. With the merger of the XFL and USFL, the now-anointed UFL, brought both leagues together to build an ultra-competitive, eight-team spring league. With eight teams in the mix, this will be the first time teams will be facing each other, in new surroundings but the goal for all eight will remain the same...compete for a title.

Prior to kickoff, the grounds surrounding the field were buzzing, as there were faces amongst the crowd that felt familiar to Dallas-Fort Worth football, but now have their own livelihoods within the sport in different capacities. Dallas Cowboy quarterback Troy Aikman was on hand, now calling Monday Night Football for ESPN, and Prime Time himself, former Cowboy and now coach for the Colorado Buffaloes, Deion Sanders was also on the sidelines prior to kickoff. But this being the first game of the season, there was one person lurking in the hallows of Choctaw Stadium that everybody was waiting for, co-owner of the league, former wrestling champion and movie megastar, the Rock Dwayne Johnson. As he emerged from the steps below the stadiums stands, Johnson was greeted with a warm, excited reception from the thousands in attendance. He met with members of the armed forces, a local youth football team, and casually took selfies with those on the sideline before making his was to 50 yard line to make a speech regarding the growing league and the kickoff to this year's season.

Being the first game UFL history, a lot of firsts were had in this game. As mentioned previously, this would be the a matchup of the two reigning champions of the XFL and USFL. The Renegades scored the league's first points behind a Taylor Russolino field goal. The Renegades also scored the league's first touchdown as quarterback Luis Perez connected on a 51-yard bomb to receiver Isaiah Winstead. While those are great, the game did not go in the Renegades favor. While Birmingham was held scoreless in the first quarter, they would go on to score in each of the remaining three quarters with at least eight points, while holding the Renegades to a single touchdown all game. The Stallions more than doubled the Renegades in rushing attempts (36 to 18), averaging over five yards a carry, resulting in two touchdowns. Birmingham also outgunned Arlington in the air (226 to 203), with a gaudy 8.4 yards per attempt. The Stallions ultimately won the inaugural game with a score of 27-4, finishing the game on a 24-5 run in dominating fashion. While this was a setback for the Renegades, if last year taught us anything, do not rule this team out and they'll be back next week to take on the next team.

Photos of the game are below:

Arlington Renegades vs. Birmingham Stallions @ Choctaw Stadium, Arlington, TX Arlington Renegades vs. Birmingham Stallions @ Choctaw Stadium, Arlington, TX Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on April 01, 2024 Rating: 5
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