Last year, the Bulldogs were upset in the opening round of Iowa 4-A football playoffs by an astonishingly underrated team that went on to make it all the way to the state championship final. Fast forward a year later, and they get to play that team again, but this time it’s the state semifinal at the UNI Dome.
Bettendorf was one of two teams in 4-A left standing in the Quad City area, and they faced off against the other, North Scott, last Friday for a ticket to the dome. In a meeting that was destined for excitement, the matchup was expected to be one of the best games of the season for the MAC area. Both teams only losing their first games of the season, the two squads are at the top of the 4-A football scene, but only one could go to the dome.
The Bulldogs came out to strong start, with two rushing touchdowns from quarterback Carter Bell in the first half, putting the Dogs up 14-0. However, Bell took a hit in the pocket late in the second quarter and had to leave the game, with backup Justin Wehr (starting kicker) stepping into to finish the game.
The Lancers took the momentum of Bell’s exit and cut the score bit by bit, and at half it was 17-14 in favor of the Bulldogs. The Lancers continued to pound the ball in, with all of their points coming from rushing TD’s. and took the lead 21-17 late in the game.
Justin Wehr was not having it, though. The senior connected with receiver Darien Porter for a 31 yard TD to put the Bulldogs up 24-17. The Lancers then drove the ball down into field goal territory to even the score, but missed the attempt. In the ensuing offensive drive, senior running back Nijel McIntosh gave the Bulldogs some cushion with a talented 63 yard TD yard to put the Lancers away for the season. The Bulldogs finished the game 31-21, defeating the Lancers and heading back to the UNI Dome, a opportunity that was missed out on last year.
The standouts for the game include backup quarterback Wehr with 65 passing yards and a game-winning touchdown pass. Along with Wehr is McIntosh with 179 rushing yards and Porter with 59 receiving yards on the night.
The defense performed phenomenally against a rush-orientated defense. Seven Bulldogs racked up five or more total tackles, with junior Alex Blizzard leading the team with 8.5 total tackles. Blake Rollinger was among those players, and also had a game-ending interception to put the Lancers away.
The Bulldogs are heading back to the Dome for the fourth time in five years, and they matched against the team that knocked them out of the playoffs only a season ago: Iowa City West.
The Trojans of Iowa City are undefeated this season and have been AP ranked first in the state for most of the year. The Trojans feature one of the top quarterbacks in the state with Evan Flitz, who is third in 4-A in passing yards, fifth in completion rate, and third in QBR. Receiving from Flitz is Traevis Buchanan who is fourth in the state in receiving yards and second in receiving touchdowns.
Bettendorf will look to stop a top-tier passing offense with consistent coverage of the Trojan receivers, as well as try to continue its diversified success on offense to give Iowa City West a run for their money this Friday in Cedar Falls. The stage is set: only four teams are left practicing this week in Iowa 4-A football, and the boys in black and gold are one of them.
Bettendorf will take on Iowa City West at the UNI Dome this Friday at 4:05 p.m. for the rights to a championship game, a game the Bulldogs haven’t played in since 2011.