CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — In its journey to the UNI-Dome, the Bettendorf defense stifled three of the more prolific offenses in the eastern half of the state in Class 4A.
It handcuffed North Scott and Pleasant Valley to one touchdown each, and corralled Iowa City West to 24 points — less than half of its season average.
Despite a 31-7 defeat to preseason No. 1 Cedar Rapids Xavier on Friday evening in the state semifinals, the Bulldogs' senior-led defense held its own.
Bettendorf forced Xavier to punt nine times, limited Brendan Miller — a 1,400-yard plus rusher — to 22 yards and the Saints to nine first downs.
"I thought our defense played outstanding," Bettendorf coach Aaron Wiley said.
"Stone cold," Bettendorf running back John McLaughlin described the defensive unit.
The Bulldogs' defensive front, anchored by Matt Albert and 315-pound Raekwon Jefferson, controlled the line of scrimmage, giving the linebackers space to roam and make tackles.
"Tough team," Xavier coach Duane Schulte said. "Did you see how big those guys were? No. 69 (Jefferson) is a mountain. We knew it was going to be tough."
Miller had only two runs for more than 4 yards.
"It was Bettendorf defense," linebacker Sam Ambrose said. "They couldn't run the ball. Other than a couple big plays, that was it."
One of those resulted in a score — a 73-yard screen play on Xavier's second possession. Hunter Baldus took a pass from Quinton Scholer and sprinted down the left sideline for a touchdown.
"We didn't make a play," Wiley said. "They got our guy blocked and we missed a tackle."
Xavier finished with 209 total yards, 163 of those coming on six pass completions.
"(Bettendorf's) defense was really flying to the ball and it was really hard to read the coverages," Scholer said.
Xavier's defense, though, answered it and then some. The Saints, who have recorded eight shutouts this season, surrendered just 193 yards.
"(Xavier) is probably the best defense in the state and we went toe-to-toe with them," Ambrose said. "It just wasn't enough."