Darien Porter missed Bettendorf’s summer football workouts recovering from surgery on a torn ligament in his right wrist.
With Porter still wearing a brace, the Bulldogs have slowly worked him into their attack.
In a small sample size Thursday night, the 400-meter state track and field champion showed how viable of a weapon he can be for the Bulldogs’ offense.
Porter scored on a 28-yard touchdown run and hauled in a 43-yard pass in the first half as Class 4A eighth-ranked Bettendorf raced past 3A eighth-ranked Davenport Assumption 45-7 at Brady Street Stadium.
“It is a work in progress for now,” said Porter, who is expected to get full clearance and lose the brace Sept. 12. “I feel like I showed a lot tonight with it on. I’m just excited to get it off and show everyone what I can do without it.”
Porter had only two touches in Bettendorf’s season opener against West Des Moines Valley. He had four on Thursday going for 90 yards.
“He’s in our future plans, no doubt,” Bettendorf coach Aaron Wiley said. “Nobody runs like him on our team and not many others in the state. He brings a great dimension.”
Porter admits it is still difficult catching passes and struggles holding the ball with his right hand.
“We’ve definitely got to get him on the field,” Bettendorf quarterback Carter Bell said. “He’s a threat when he starts running. Nobody out here can catch him.”
The Bulldogs (1-1) feasted on explosive plays for their fourth straight win over Assumption.
Wiley’s squad had nine plays cover 15 yards or more. Tailback Nijel McIntosh had five carries for 146 yards and three touchdowns.
Bettendorf scored 21 points on its first 11 offensive plays and finished the night with 445 yards.
“We preached all day we wanted to have a good start, a crisp start and get on them right away,” Wiley said. “We were really efficient offensively the whole game, and that’s a good sign.
“We took some definite steps forward on offense tonight.”
Assumption played keep-away in the first quarter. The Knights (1-1) had the ball for 10 minutes, 23 seconds out of the 12 minutes.
Jayce Levy’s 2-yard touchdown run on fourth down evened the game 94 seconds into the second quarter.
“That was the idea, to slow the game down,” Assumption coach Wade King said. “They’ve got an explosive offense. We wanted to keep our offense on the field, but that’s a tough task doing that all night.”
Bettendorf reeled off the next 38 points, including 17 in the final 8:54 of the second quarter.
McIntosh had a 49-yard run to set up the go-ahead score. Porter followed with a 28-yard scoring run on the next possession and a 43-yard reception to set up a 38-yard Justin Wehr field goal before intermission.
“We’ve got athletes all over the field — receivers, quarterback, running backs,” McIntosh said. “Anybody can hit you from anywhere. That keeps the defense guessing.”
Bell was efficient under center again. The junior completed 7 of 9 throws for 113 yards and a score. That, combined with McIntosh and Porter, gives Bettendorf a powerful triple threat.
“I don’t think we were ready for that kind of quickness,” King said. “Last week we played a power team (in North Scott). This team, they’re powerful but the backfield is very quick and speed we weren’t ready for.”
Bettendorf found its footing defensively, too. It limited Assumption to just 20 yards in the second quarter.
Assumption lost Levy to a left shoulder injury early in the second quarter. He did not return. Backup quarterback Brandon Schlichting left in the fourth quarter with an injury.
King said the Knights didn’t want to risk bringing either one back with next week’s district opener at top-five ranked West Delaware.
Ryan Wohlers led the Knights’ ground game with 91 yards on 18 carries.
Bettendorf, meanwhile, avoided its first 0-2 start since 1984. It is on the road again next week at Cedar Rapids Washington.
“This helps a lot with our confidence, gets team morale up and gives us a lot of momentum going into Week 3 versus Cedar Rapids Washington,” Porter said. “We did a lot of good things tonight.”