XFL scores, updates, highlights, Week 5: Defenders upset BattleHawks, Wildcats outlast Vipers

Relive all this week's XFL action as the season hits the halfway mark

The XFL season hit the halfway mark this weekend, and the Houston Roughnecks finished the first half of the season undefeated after a 32-23 win over the Seattle Dragons on Saturday in a game that ended in controversy. On Sunday, it was the St. Louis BattleHawks who looked to keep rolling, but instead, they fell to the DC Defenders, creating a three-way logjam atop the East Division at 3-2 (along with the New York Guardians). Rounding out the weekend were the Los Angeles Wildcats, who looked in danger of getting routed at home against the Tampa Bay Vipers until Josh Johnson turned it on for a four-touchdown performance in a 41-34 shootout win.

Whether you've been locked in since the league's inception or are just dipping your toe into the water now, CBS Sports' XFL coverage is here for you. We've got you covered with power rankings, quarterback rankings, and much more. You can also head to SportsLine to see picks from an expert who was 14-2 against the spread heading into Week 5.

XFL scores, Week 5

Saturday, March 7
Houston Roughnecks 32, Seattle Dragons 23
New York Guardians 30, Dallas Renegades 12  

Sunday, March 8
DC Defenders 15, St. Louis BattleHawks 6
Los Angeles Wildcats 41, Tampa Bay Vipers 34

Live updates
(82)
See New Posts

With the 41-34 score going final, the Wildcats officially improve to 2-3 on the season, while the Vipers fall all the way to 1-4 despite their recent improvements. The game had the makings of a Tampa Bay blowout, but then Josh Johnson turned it on and aired it out with ease, helping L.A. become the first franchise in the revived XFL to score 40+ points. Thanks so much for tuning in, everyone, and stay tuned at CBS Sports for much more analysis, as well as Week 6 previews!

Wow. Tampa Bay puts together maybe its best drive of the day, picking up four first downs, including on a 16-yard Taylor Cornelius scramble, a wide-open bullet to Dan Williams and a laser over the middle to Reece Horn, pushing all the way to L.A.'s seven-yard line needing seven points to tie the game. But then Cornelius is picked off for the second and final time of the night, seemingly rushing a rifled pass to the end zone and watching as Wildcats CB Jack Tocho absorbs the ball uncontested. The clutch turnover seals the shootout victory for the home team, which at one point trailed 20-6. What a game.

Vipers are going to get a chance to regain their long-lost lead, believe it or not. Wildcats can't do anything, let alone milk the clock, on their possession directly following Tampa's score. The road team is down 41-34 with two minutes on the clock.

With just over three minutes remaining, the Vipers aren't quitting just yet. Jaime Elizondo dials up more shots for Taylor Cornelius, and this time, the QB has enough time to drive the ball downfield, picking up 18 to Reece Horn and then another 37 to Jalen Tolliver. Finally, Horn breaks free down the middle of the field for a 24-yard score, and Tampa Bay pulls within seven points after a De'Veon Smith rush for the one-point conversion. This has been a high-scoring affair, at the very least!

Wow. The Wildcats are going to win this. Josh Johnson can't generate much rhythm thanks to some miscommunication with coordinator Norm Chow and frequent target Saeed Blacknall, but as soon as the Vipers get the ball back after the punt, they give it right back. Taylor Cornelius faces pressure right off the snap, and he's hit as he's about to throw, losing the ball -- which then, promptly, gets scooped up by a speedy big man in Boogie Roberts. The DT returns the fumble 23 yards for the TD, and then Tre McBride hauls in the two-point try to put the icing on the cake. Wildcats up 41-27.

Meanwhile, on the L.A. sideline, Josh Johnson is inexplicably frustrated with his offensive coordinator, Norm Chow, despite just throwing his fourth TD of the night. This, friends, is XFL TV:

Four plays after Josh Johnson's fourth TD pass and just seven plays after his last pick, Taylor Cornelius is intercepted again. Tried finding Dan Williams, but instead the ball goes to LB Taiwan Jones. Fortunately, though, a defensive holding call wipes away the turnover, and the Vipers get to extend their life support. A deep ball to Jalen Tolliver helps put them even closer to scoring range, but then they're forced to settle for a FG after De'Veon Smith is stuffed up the middle. Good from 25, Andrew Franks makes it a six-point ballgame. It's 33-27 Wildcats with about nine minutes left to play.

Seriously, though, this has been some turnaround for Los Angeles. You'd think Tampa Bay would be built for sustaining a lead, what with its reliance on the ground game, but the Wildcats have simply made the deep passing game look easy for much of the night. Credit to Josh Johnson for airing it out with confidence after a brutal start, not to mention without his No. 1 target, Nelson Spruce, who remains sidelined. The Wildcats now lead this one 33-24 as we inch closer to the middle of the fourth quarter.

That might be game, depending on how much you believe in a Vipers comeback after what's transpired. Thrust right back into scoring position following the Taylor Cornelius pick, the Wildcats don't waste much time punching it in, as Josh Johnson finds Saeed Blacknall for his fourth TD pass of the night -- this one a perfectly lobbed toss to the right back corner of the end zone:

Uh oh. This game just continues to swing in the Wildcats' favor. Facing a third-and-5 from their own 36, the Vipers give up possession as Taylor Cornelius is picked off by big DT Reggie Howard, who somehow read his short pass the entire way. Howard brings it another 22 yards, and L.A. is once again knocking at the door inside the red zone:

Considering how this game started, Josh Johnson has really put on a show here at home. The QB opened with a fumble and interception, the latter of which came on the very first play from scrimmage, but he's since thrown three touchdowns and racked up 259 yards through the air for a passer rating of 115. Vipers can't force anything going forward, but they've also got to wake up and get aggressive if they want to regain the lead.

Folks, it's happened. Down 24-6 at one point, the Wildcats now officially lead the Vipers, 27-24. L.A. opened its latest drive at its own 14-yard line, then used nine plays -- including a deep ball from Josh Johnson to Tre McBride, with a roughing-the-passer call tacked on to the end of it -- to get within scoring range, where Johnson once again hooked up with McBride -- this time on a perfectly placed lob toward the sideline of the end zone -- for a touchdown:

Two straight missed FGs between these two sides, so the Vipers remain in front, 24-20. First, Andrew Franks couldn't get enough leg behind a 57-yarder just before halftime. Now, Giorgio Tavecchio is no good from 55. We've got about one and a half quarters left of football. Momentum swung pretty hard in L.A.'s favor before halftime, but it's anyone's game down the stretch.

Perhaps the "Josh Johnson stinks tonight" takes were a little premature (guilty here). In a matter of about six minutes, the Wildcats have gone from down 24-6 to down 24-20, thanks in large part to Johnson zipping it all over the field. A 48-yard bomb to Saeed Blacknall just set up an eight-yard strike to TE Brandon Barnes, and all of a sudden the Vipers seem in danger of losing their lead entirely.

Vi-pers! Vi-pers! Chant it with us now. Tampa Bay may have been helpless for the first three weeks of the year, but they've been on an absolute tear ever since. Five plays after Tre McBride fumbles away a punt return for the Wildcats, Taylor Cornelius puts a beauty on a rope, firing a 16-yard TD pass to Jalen Tolliver while rolling to the left. Tampa now leads this one 24-6 in the second.

My goodness. The Wildcats force a punt after cutting Tampa's lead to 11 points, but then Tre McBride coughs up the ball on the return. Vipers hop on it, and it's their ball at the L.A. 27-yard line. This night can't get much worse for the home team.

Quite the night in Los Angeles, folks. Down 16 at home, the Wildcats finally seem to find momentum after Josh Johnson sidearms a pass over the middle to Jordan Smallwood, who gets away from Vipers defenders to pick up a whopping 54 yards all the way down to the one-yard line -- and set up a TD run by DuJuan Harris. But then, on the two-point try, Johnson once again lets the ball pop from his hands, and the Vipers nearly scoop it up for a huge return:

This is too easy. It's the Vipers' night, and the Wildcats can't do anything about it. Tampa starts inside enemy territory after the fumbled Josh Johnson snap, then reels off an eight-play TD drive capped by an option run by QB Taylor Cornelius, who glides in untouched to put the Vipers up 16-0 on the road. De'Veon Smith and Dan Williams both with big plays to help set up the Cornelius score:

Maybe L.A.'s offensive coordinator should tell Josh Johnson to calm down. A Shotgun snap goes up and right through the QB's hands, and Johnson can't retrieve the fumble fast enough. Tampa gets on it. It's Vipers ball, and another Wildcats turnover during the first quarter. Can't blame it all on Johnson, of course, but not a great look for this offense as a whole:

ESPN's broadcast showed Josh Johnson repeatedly telling L.A.'s offensive coordinator to "calm down." Not the greatest sign for the Wildcats' start tonight:

Beautiful drive from the Vipers, who have moved up and down the field as well as any team in the league the last few weeks. Taylor Cornelius is unfazed after a third-and-short misfire, zipping a perfect out pass to Reece Horn for a first down on fourth, then coordinator Jaime Elizondo dials up back-to-back runs up the gut for RB Jacques Patrick. The first one goes for 24, as Patrick jukes a couple of Wildcats. The second one gets Tampa into the end zone. It's now 10-0 after the one-point conversion. Vipers rolling early!

Vipers struggled mightily in the red zone early in the year. Those struggles were back after the Josh Johnson pick, with Tampa getting a first-and-8 from L.A.'s eight-yard line and failing to punch it in. But Andrew Franks' 26-yard FG after a couple of stuffed runs is good, so the Vipers own an early 3-0 lead on the West Coast. Wildcats fortunate to come away having allowed just a FG after their first-play blunder.

Whoa! Tampa Bay wastes no time putting its imprint on tonight's game. Josh Johnson drops back to pass to kick off the Wildcats' first drive, and his throw is picked off by Vipers safety Robert Priester. Just like that, Tampa gets the ball inside L.A.'s 25. Priester read Johnson from the jump, followed the receiver through Johnson's roll-out and made it look easy:

See More
Our Latest Stories