LAS VEGAS — The San Antonio Brahmas saw their playoff hopes get even slimmer when they fell 26-12 to the lowly Las Vegas Vipers at Cashman Field on Saturday afternoon in their final road game of the 2023 season.
The loss dropped San Antonio to 2-5 on the season, putting their playoff hopes in serious doubt with three games remaining and trailing the Arlington Renegades in the South Division.
“It was just disappointing. We had mistakes all over the football field,” San Antonio Head Coach Hines Ward said. “We have to get back to football 101 and if I have to take some privileges away from these players then I got to do so.”
Former Baylor backup quarterback Jalan McClendon got the start for the hometown Vipers, throwing for 264 yards and two touchdowns.
San Antonio opened the scoring when Kurt Benkert, who made his first XFL start, found Fred Brown with a 1-yard touchdown pass, putting the visitors up 6-0 early. McClendon then led the Vipers down the field on the next drive for a touchdown and two-point conversion, putting Vegas up 8-6. From there, it would be all gravy for the home team.
After Vegas added a field goal, Brown returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to put San Antonio up 12-11. That would be the final time the Brahmas would score.
The second half opened with McClendon finding Rod Smith on a 17-yard touchdown pass to put Vegas up for good at 19-12 and added a 1-yard score in the fourth quarter.
“We had a big score and then they responded and after that, we were just playing catchup,” Ward said.
As for the playoffs? Ward offered a blunt answer that his team may not like but would have to agree with.
“Listen, we are not a playoff team by any means right now,” Ward said. “We are starting to get a lot of attention from scouts. They are starting to inquire about some of our players in the XFL. To my players in the locker room, I told them we can’t put bad stuff on tape – it all resonates if you want to have any shot at playing at the next level. And today, it wasn’t good. Nobody in that locker room did enough to get evaluated.”