United Football League
UFL 2024 Week 4 roundup: Roughnecks' opportunistic defense seals first win
United Football League

UFL 2024 Week 4 roundup: Roughnecks' opportunistic defense seals first win

Updated Apr. 23, 2024 10:27 a.m. ET

Houston Roughnecks head coach Curtis Johnson waited patiently for the return of workhorse running back Mark Thompson.

After sitting out the first three weeks of the UFL season with a knee injury, Thompson played for the first time against the Arlington Renegades on Sunday, providing a spark in Houston’s 17-9 victory.

Thompson rushed nine times for 34 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown and the Roughnecks' final score of the game. Johnson said Thompson was on a pitch count, limiting his availability, but when Thompson was in, he helped create a clear picture for Houston's passing game by forcing a safety closer to the line of scrimmage defensively for Arlington.

"There’s something about him," Johnson said about Thompson. "He’s got the magic." 


The win gave Houston (1-3) its first victory of the season, while the defending XFL champion Renegades remain winless.

While the return of Thompson provided a spark for Houston’s offense, its defense was the catalyst for the victory, holding league-leading passer Luis Perez to just 144 passing yards and sacking him twice — forcing two turnovers and holding Arlington to a season-low nine points after giving up 34 points last week.

The Roughnecks also held Arlington to 2 of 10 on third down. 

Houston defensive end Chris Odom sealed the game, sacking a scrambling Perez and stripping the ball, with linebacker Gabriel Sewell Jr. recovering it on Houston’s 23-yard line with 18 seconds left.

Houston quarterback Reid Sinnett played efficiently, completing 18 of 28 (64.3%) passes for 191 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Roughnecks wideout Cyril Grayson finished with three receptions for 62 yards.

Here’s another look at what else happened in Week 4.

WR Jahcour Pearson's return highlights electric St. Louis offense 

Out for the first three weeks of the season while he recovered from a knee injury, the cat-quick receiver played well in his return to action for the Battlehawks.

Last year's leading receiver in the XFL, Pearson finished with a game-high 10 receptions for 70 yards, including an 8-yard catch in the back of the end zone to complete the scoring in a 32-17 home victory over the Memphis Showboats

St. Louis QB AJ McCarron had another big day, completing 35 of 45 (77.8%) passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns, with his lone blemish being an interception by Memphis safety Quenton Meeks. McCarron completed passes to 10 different receivers in the win, and the Battlehawks recorded 355 total yards of offense.

Running back Jacob Saylors finished with 103 yards on 15 carries, including a 57-yard jaunt in the fourth quarter to salt the game away in front of 31,000-plus St. Louis fans who showed up at The Dome at America’s Center.

After losing a heartbreaker on the road to the Michigan Panthers in Week 1, the Battlehawks have won three straight and lead the XFL conference at 3-1, while the Showboats have lost three in a row and have dropped to 1-3 on the year.

Matt Corral back at QB1, Stallions avoid upset bid by Defenders

Birmingham head coach Skip Holtz went back to Corral as the team’s starter just a week after Adrian Martinez threw for over 300 yards. While it wasn't a clean performance for Birmingham’s offense with two fumbles in the red zone and a blocked punt, the Stallions managed to hold on for a 20-18 victory at Protective Stadium.

Starting in place of injured kicker Chris Blewitt, former Pittsburgh Maulers kicker Ramiz Ahmed joined the team on Tuesday and finished 4 for 4 on field goals, including the game-winner from 46 yards out.  

Corral completed 19 of 29 passes (65.5%) for 240 yards and a score. He added another 51 yards on the ground. Amari Rodgers led the Stallions with four receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown, while Kelvin Harmon totaled five catches for 93 yards and a score for the Defenders. 

The game had six lead changes and Birmingham’s often explosive offense finished 0 for 4 in the red zone. Still, the Stallions remain the lone unbeaten team in the league at 4-0, upping their win streak to 11 straight games dating back to last season, while the Defenders dropped to 2-2 on the year.

Holtz said he’s still figuring out who will start next week between Corral and Martinez, wanting both players to get reps for possible NFL auditions.

"I was proud of the way Matt was able to go out there and play tonight after Adrian put on such an impressive performance a week ago," Holtz said after the game. "I have no idea what I’ll do going forward." 

Quinten Dormady slings it while subbing in for injured Chase Garbers

Starting his first UFL game in place of injured QB Garbers (wrist), Dormady was impressive, completing 23 of 37 passes (62.2%) for 269 yards and a touchdown in the San Antonio Brahmas' 19-9 victory over the visiting Panthers (2-2). Dormady also threw an interception. 

Justin Smith (seven receptions for 105 yards) and Jontre Kirklin (five receptions for 105 yards) both eclipsed the 100-yard receiving mark for the Brahmas. San Antonio’s defense sacked the Panthers six times and forced three turnovers. Linebacker Jordan Mosley finished with five combined tackles, one interception and a forced fumble.

Panthers head coach Mike Nolan replaced injured QB E.J. Perry with backup Danny Etling in the second half, who finished 11 of 14 (78.6%) for 105 yards and a touchdown to Marcus Simms. However, Etling also threw an interception to Mosley to end the game. 

And who doesn’t want to see San Antonio head coach Wade Phillips’ victory dance?

XFL vs. USFL is a stalemate

In matchups against XFL and USFL conferences, Birmingham took the early-season tilt over Arlington, but the two conferences are tied at 4-4 headed into Week 4.

The first season of the UFL has also seen competitive games, with 10 of 16 contests decided by one score, five games with lead changes in the game's final minute and two games decided by one point. The average margin of victory has been eight points.

The fourth-and-12 alternative kickoff option used in place of the onside kick has been converted all three times it has been attempted this season. Kickers also continued to perform well, making 14 of 16 field goals (87.5%) in Week 4 for a 91.2% conversion rate through four weeks. 

Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him at @eric_d_williams.

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