EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - FEBRUARY 09: Matt McGloin #14 of the NY Guardians looks to pass against the Tampa Bay Vipers during the first half of their XFL game at MetLife Stadium on February 09, 2020 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
(Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)

The New York Guardians debuted in style, dominating every part of their opening game against the Tampa Bay Vipers at MetLife Stadium.

Geoff Magliocchetti

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—New York football won a game in February. Many would probably prefer it coming one Sunday earlier, but a new franchise, nonetheless, got off to a good start at MetLife Stadium.

Quarterback Matt McGloin was responsible for two touchdowns, the first ones in team history, and the New York Guardians emerged victorious in their XFL debut. A dominant defensive effort left the outcome in little doubt, as the Guardians took the game by a 23-3 final.

The Guardians (1-0) took things over right from the get-go. A strong return from Austin Duke allowed them to immediately begin the game in Tampa Bay territory. The ensuing eight plays saw them convert on both third and fourth down en route to McGloin’s punch-in from one yard out.

Tight end Jake Powell had a crucial 15-yard catch on fourth down, and Joe Horn Jr. set the Guardians up in the red zone with an 18-yard catch.

Tampa Bay threatened to counter on a nine-play drive that got as close as six yards away from a touchdown. Another New York-first would stifle the opportunity. Aaron Murray’s would-be touchdown pass was intercepted by Andrew Soroh, the lucky recipient of a tip by linebacker D’Juan Hines.

A New York punt was followed by a Tampa three-and-out, but the Guardians would then go on to score on just three plays, moving 57 yards. Colby Pearson would earn the first touchdown catch in team history, scoring on a 12-yard throw from McGloin. The historic score was preceded by a diving 45-yard grab from Mekale McKay.

The Guardians continued to snuff out Tampa opportunities with a strong defensive effort. Joey Mbu and Bunmi Rotimi each earned their first XFL sacks, while a big interception prior to halftime by Bryce Jones ensured a goose egg going into the locker room. Matthew McCrane would boot a 49-yard field goal to create a 17-0 lead at the midway mark.

Tampa Bay (0-1) gained some traction upon the insertion of hybrid quarterback Quinton Flowers, but were unable to generate true momentum. Relentless pressure from the New York defense allowed them only a third-quarter field goal from Andrew Franks. The defense themselves got into the scoring summary in the fourth quarter.

Jamar Summers picked up a fumble from tight end Nick Truesdell and took it back 13 yards for the first defensive score in Guardians history. Another one-point try was no good, but the Guardians owned a commanding 23-3 lead nonetheless.

Further proof of the Guardians’ defensive dominance was on display through their red zone protection. Four Tampa Bay drives ended inside New York’s six. Only one ended in points, and it was a mere Andy Franks field goal that created the final score.

The Guardians return to action on Saturday, as they’ll hit the road for their first away game at Audi Field against the DC Defenders on Saturday afternoon (2:00 p.m. ET, ABC). DC likewise triumphed in their first XFL game, topping the Seattle Dragons 31-19 on Saturday afternoon at home.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490

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