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Guardians move to 2-2 after important home win over Wildcats

The Guardians’ defense stepped up throughout as the Guardians defeated Los Angeles, 17-14, at MetLife Stadium on Saturday.

At 1-2 on the season, the New York Guardians returned to the friendly confines of MetLife Stadium. With just seven games remaining in the 2020 campaign, coach Kevin Gilbride and company knew that Saturday’s game against the LA Wildcats was pivotal. Without quarterback Matt McGloin, who was inactive due to a rib injury, the Guardians looked to Luis Perez to lead them to victory at home.

Darius Victor ran for 82 yards and the defense finished with three sacks as New York moved to 2-2 after a 17-14 win over the Los Angeles Wildcats on Saturday in front of 12,116 at MetLife Stadium.

The first quarter was a slow start for the Guardians’ offense. With a new quarterback in Perez, Gilbride attempted to get the running game established early. That strategy netted just 22 yards in the first, but it was enough to get on the board after a 51-yard Matthew McCrane field goal.

The Wildcats marched down the field and scored on a Josh Johnson four-yard touchdown pass to Tre McBride. After an unsuccessful two-point conversion, Los Angeles was up 6-3 after the first quarter.

The Guardians got the ball back, and the playbook opened up as New York went 60 yards in 12 plays. However, they were unable to get the ball in the end zone after driving down to the Wildcats’ seven-yard line. McCrane kicked his second field goal, this time from 23 yards, to even the game at six.

After a defensive stop, the Guardians drove down the field once again. After a 10-play drive, Perez threw a three-yard touchdown to Mekale McKay. Backup quarterback Marquise Williams ran in the two-point conversion as New York took a 14-6 lead into the half. The most significant stat from the first half was how the Guardians dominated time of possession (19:42-10:18) and kept the LA offense off the field.

The Wildcats opened the second half driving the field into New York territory. Los Angeles was unable to capitalize after a sack by Jerell Owens, his second of the day, and a holding penalty. The drive ended as Owens continued his big day with a blocked field goal as the Guardians took over. After a Guardians’ three-and-out, the Wildcats sporadic offense finally showed the skill that defeated the undefeated Defenders last week. Johnson connected with Saeed Blacknail on a 42-yard touchdown reception and tied the game at 14 after a successful two-point conversion.

Just when momentum began turning in LA’s direction, Jamar Summers intercepted Johnson. After the takeaway, New York went back to the ground as Victor began eating up yards and the clock. After a promising start, the Guardians had to settle for a third McCrane field goal. The Wildcats ensuing possession ended with a missed field goal by Nick Novak as New York retained the lead.

“This was the definition of a team win,” said Guardians quarterback Luis Perez. “Matt [McCrane] making all of those kicks, and they were some long kicks. Justin [Vogel], at the end, pinning them inside the 10-yard line. Offense doing our part. We talk about no turnovers all the time in all aspects, and the defense got one, and we didn’t turn it over.”

The Wildcats received the ball again, but the Guardians’ defense held Los Angeles on a fourth down. Los Angeles had one more possession, but New York held firm as they picked up the crucial win at home.

“We’re obviously excited about the win. We’re very pleased with the effort that our players put forth,” said Guardians head coach Kevin Gilbride. “I thought they continued to fight and play hard, which we needed to do if we’re gonna get a W against a very good football team.”

What’s Next for the Guardians

New York hits the road to face the Renegades in Dallas on Saturday. The game is set for 5 p.m. and can be seen on FOX.

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Kahlil Thomas

Kahlil is the College Sports Editor for DoubleGSports.com as well as a columnist, hosting the Bump 'N Run column once per week. He also co-hosts a weekly basketball podcast, The Box Out, every Thursday evening with fellow DoubleGSports.com writer Jason Cordner.
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