By nearly all offensive metrics, the Orlando Guardians kept up with the Houston Roughnecks in their 2023 XFL season opener. Through four quarters of football, they were only outgained by 23 yards and earned only two fewer first downs than Houston. Not to mention, Houston was only able to run three more plays and hold on to the ball for less than three more minutes than Orlando. However, they struggled to keep up in just one category, turnovers. A quarterback change and three turnovers led to a blowout loss for Paxton Lynch and the Guardians on Saturday.
Orlando got off to a fast start on Saturday. Led by Paxton Lynch, the Guardians moved the ball 77 yards down the field for a touchdown on their opening drive. Houston closed the first quarter with a scoring drive to tie things up at six apiece.
The second quarter was a bit less kind to Lynch and company. The Guardians started the second quarter with an eight-play, 52-yard drive that resulted in a missed field goal. Orlando’s offense then followed up with three drives for -9 yards and three punts. Meanwhile, Houston exploded with three drives of 159 yards and 15 points. By halftime, the game was beginning to get away from the Guardians as they fell behind 21-6.
Orlando’s defense attempted to give Lynch and the offense some life with two interceptions in the third quarter. Unfortunately, the Guardians were just as inept on offense as they failed to pick up a first down in the third quarter. Not to mention, Paxton Lynch threw an interception to close the quarter before being benched in the fourth.
The Guardians hoped a quarterback change would provide the spark they needed. Instead, it led to two more interceptions and a 33-12 loss at the end of four.