Bettendorf’s offense didn’t really come to life until late in the first half Wednesday night.
But when you have a defense like the Bulldogs do, an offense sometimes is just window dressing.
Bettendorf proved that again in the opening round of the Class 4A playoffs as the defense set up two early touchdowns and even scored one itself on the way to a 35-7 victory over Cedar Rapids Jefferson at TouVelle Stadium.
The Bulldogs (10-0) will host Cedar Rapids Kennedy on Monday night at TouVelle.
They advanced through the opening round despite accumulating just 280 yards of offense, only 92 on the ground. Despite that, they led by as much as 32 points in the first minute of the second half, mostly because of a suffocating defense and solid special teams.
“That’s what it’s all about in the playoffs,’’ Bettendorf coach Aaron Wiley said. “You’ve got to be solid defensively and control the line of scrimmage.’’
Jefferson coach Brian Webb, who has revitalized what was one of the state’s worst programs just a few years ago, watched it all with a degree of admiration.
“It’s Bettendorf. I don’t know of any better way to say it. It’s Bettendorf,’’ he said. “They don’t change. They’re like this every year. They’re a great example of what we want to be.’’
The Bettendorf defense began doing its part very early as senior linebacker David Smith stormed through to block a punt on just the fourth play of the game, setting up the offense at the Jefferson 24-yard line.
Quarterback Cyle Cox converted it into points with a 5-yard touchdown run to make it 6-0.
“Playing defense, we’re always looking to make big plays,’’ said Smith, who got a hand on another Jefferson punt on the next series. “Defensive players don’t get to make those big plays very often so it’s pretty exciting when we get to.’’
The defense produced another huge play later in the first quarter as two Bulldogs sacked J-Hawks quarterback Jesse Furrow, who spun around and lost control of the ball. Cameron Maxfield, a 255-pound sophomore defensive tackle, was there to scoop up the ball and rumble 31 yards for a score to make it 13-0.
“Offensive and defensive linemen don’t usually get the ball like that,’’ Smith said. “He was in the right place. He needed to be where he was and it was just scoop and score it.’’
The Bulldogs pinned Jefferson deep in its territory and a short punt followed by a 19-yard return gave Bettendorf the ball in the red zone again. Cox scampered 19 yards on the option to widen the lead.
With three minutes remaining in the first half, the Bulldogs had only 56 yards of offense but led, 19-0.
Then the offense finally got cranked up. Cox completed three straight passes, totaling 85 yards, during a six-play, 94-yard march that ended with a 17-yard pass to Austin Cullor, making it 25-0 at halftime.
Just for good measure, Cox hit Cullor for 53 yards on the first play of the second half and Justice O’Conner’s 12-yard touchdown dash made it 32-0.
Cox connected on 8 of 14 passes for 173 yards after completing just one of his first six.
Jefferson (4-6) finally scored in the fourth quarter on an 8-yard run by Furrow, who was under siege most of the night from Smith, Jack Kallenberger and others. He completed 9 of 28 passes for 56 yards passing and at one point had minus-46 yards rushing. The J-Hawks finished with 157 yards of total offense.
“We just can’t make as many mistakes as we did …’’ Webb said. “Before we beat Bettendorf, we have to stop beating ourselves.’’