Chase Garbers Leads San Antonio to XFL Conference Title

Ex-Cal QB Garbers was questionable to play, then takes the Brahmas to a berth in the UFL championship game
San Antonio Brahmas quarterback Chase Garbers
San Antonio Brahmas quarterback Chase Garbers / Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Former Cal quarterback Chase Garbers was questionable to play in Sunday’s XFL conference championships game, but with a brace to protect his twice-injured left wrist, he did enough to lead the San Antonio Brahmas to a 25-15 victory over the St. Louis Battlehawks Sunday night in St. Louis.

With the win, Garbers and the Brahmas will face the USFL champion Birmingham Stallions in the United Football League championship game next Sunday in St. Louis.

Garbers committed two costly turnovers that helped St. Louis stay in the games, but he was otherwise effective.  He finished 15-for-21 for 197 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and an impressive 172.1 passer rating.

It was uncertain whether Garbers would play Sunday.  When he suffered a left wrist injury in the third game of the season back on April 14, the Brahmas announced that it was a season-ending injury.  But Garbers came off the bench two weeks ago to lead San Antonio to a victory, then started the final regular-season game last week against St. Louis.  But he left that game after re-injuring his wrist, and his practice time this past week was limited.

It was not until a few hours before Sunday’s game that Garbers was announced as the Brahmas’ starter for the XFL conference title game.

The Brahmas dominated the game, recording 410 yards of total offense to 239 yards for St. Louis.  And Garbers had the Brahmas' offense on the move from the start.  He started 9-for-10 for 136 yards and two touchdowns, but that one pass that wasn’t completed was an interception on a third-and-goal play from the St. Louis 5-yard line on the Brahmas’ first possession.

Garbers quickly made up for that mistake by throwing a 15-yard touchdown pass to Marquez Stevenson.

And the Brahmas made it 13-0 when Garbers connected with Justin Smith on a 63-yard scoring pass on the first play of the second quarter.

San Antonio led 13-3 at halftime, and extended its lead to 19-3, before St. Louis made it interesting.  A touchdown pass by AJ McCarron made it 19-9 before Garbers made a mistake that let St. Louis back in the game.  On a first-down play from the San Antonio 28-yard line, Garbers fumbled the ball without being hit.  A Battlehawks defender picked it up and returned it for a touchdown to make it 19-15 with 5:41 left in the third quarter.

However, St. Louis did not score again. Two field goals by San Antonio’s Ryan Santoso, the second one coming with 1:56 remaining in the fourth quarter, gave the Brahmas the breathing space they needed.

Now Garbers will try to lead the Brahmas to victory over the Stallions in the UFL championship game.  The Stallions are 10-1, but that one loss came against San Antonio, when Garbers led the Brahmas to an 18-9 victory over the Stallions on May 25.

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Jake Curtis

JAKE CURTIS

Jake Curtis worked in the San Francisco Chronicle sports department for 27 years, covering virtually every sport, including numerous Final Fours, several college football national championship games, an NBA Finals, world championship boxing matches and a World Cup. He was a Cal beat writer for many of those years, and won awards for his feature stories.