EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - FEBRUARY 29: Jamar Summers #21 of the NY Guardians celebrates after the defense forced a fourth down during the first half of their XFL game against the LA Wildcats at MetLife Stadium on February 29, 2020 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
(Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)

The New York Guardians returned to the win column to the tune of a new quarterback and defensive antics on Saturday.

Luis Perez threw for 150 yards and a touchdown in his first career XFL start, while Darius Victor ran for a new team-record 84 yards on Saturday afternoon at MetLife Stadium. It was enough to guide their New York Guardians to a 17-14 win over the Los Angeles Wildcats.

The teams began the game with matching three-and-outs, with each defense registering a sack in the process. New York broke through first with a 51-yard field goal from Matthew McCrane, who continued his perfect season.

Los Angeles went on to respond with a 10-play, 68-yard drive that ended with a Tre McBride touchdown grab from Josh Johnson. McBride previously had two scores against the DC Defenders last weekend.

The Guardians (2-2) continued a trend of scoring, earning points on two more consecutive possessions after McCrane’s kick. Another triple from close range tied the game (Los Angeles missed their two-pointer) before Perez found Mekale McKay for a touchdown. Perez’s fellow quarterback Marquise Williams ran it in from five yards out on the ensuing conversion to make it 14-6.

When the second half began, Los Angeles tried to strike back with a long field goal from Nick Novak, but Jarrell Owens, who also earned two sacks, blocked it at the line of scrimmage to preserve the lead.

Offensive heroics weren’t as easy to conjure in the second half. The Guardians opened with back-to-back three-and-outs, allowing the Wildcats to climb back in the game via a deep Josh Johnson ball to Saeed Blacknall. The ensuing two-pointer to Jordan Smallwood retied the game.

After the latter three-play drive, the Guardians were on their heels as the Wildcats went driving again. However, Jamar Summers’ second MetLife interception put momentum back in New York’s hands. Another McCrane triple gave them a 17-14 lead in the early stages of the fourth quarter.

The Wildcats made a return trip to the Guardians’ red zone, but a missed 45-yard field from Novak kept a three-point game.

Owens and the defense came up big one more time. After a Justin Vogel punt situated the Wildcats at their own 11-yard line, the defenders allowed two first downs but pressure from Owens made Johnson uncomfortable, and they eventually earned a turnover on downs. Rushes from Victor allowed the Guardians to run most of the remaining clock out. A Vogel punt put the Wildcats 92 yards away from the end zone, and they failed to obtain it before time expired.

The Guardians return to action next Saturday, as they hit the road to take on the Dallas Renegades (5 p.m. ET, Fox).

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Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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