WEST DES MOINES — Errant snaps. Busted coverages. Four lost fumbles, two recovered for touchdowns. And its defense could not contain an explosive collection of skilled players.
The first regular-season showdown between traditional state powers turned into a one-sided affair Friday night at Valley Stadium.
West Des Moines Valley scored six first-half touchdowns to roll past Bettendorf 49-13 in a non-district tilt, the Bulldogs’ most lopsided loss since a 38-0 defeat to Pleasant Valley in 2012.
“They’re as good as we thought they’d be, but I’m just disappointed we made it easy on them with some of things we did,” Bettendorf coach Aaron Wiley said. “We’re better than that, but we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
The whole second half was played under a continuous clock due to the 35-point rule.
Of Valley’s five offensive scoring drives in the first half, it started three inside Bettendorf territory, one at midfield and another at its own 45.
“We sold our guys that this was going to be a four-quarter, physical, knockdown, drag-out game,” Valley coach Gary Swenson said. “Clearly, it has to make our kids feel good about the work they’ve done and where they’re at, but with Waukee, Dowling and Johnston coming up, I don’t think anyone is going to get a fat head.”
Valley quarterback Rocky Lombardi, a Michigan State recruit, rushed for two touchdowns and completed 10 of 17 throws for 188 yards and two scores in the first half.
The Tigers had seven players catch passes.
“This is probably the best group of skilled guys we’ve had in a while at Valley,” Lombardi said. “I don’t know what my teammates expected, but I certainly didn’t expect the game to turn out like this.”
Bettendorf fumbled the ball near midfield on its opening drive. Valley capitalized with a touchdown.
Then late in the opening quarter, Lombardi rolled to his right and hit Tariq Brown for a 45-yard touchdown on what Wiley called a busted coverage.
“Some of our guys started to press (after that) and it just snowballed on us,” Wiley said. “Everything kind of went wrong that could have gone wrong.”
JMichael Young, making his first varsity start at quarterback, found Keegan Glaus for an 18-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter to pull the Bulldogs within 21-7. Valley, though, scored three times in the next 4 1/2 minutes to finish it off. Lombardi scampered for a 41-yard touchdown run, scored on a 22-yard fumble return and converted a 4-yard scoring pass.
“Our issue coming into this year was where are we at on the line of scrimmage,” Swenson said. “Our offensive line has got a long way to go, but we saw improvement this week, but our receiving, quarterback and running back combinations, that’s as good as we’ve had here.”
To Swenson’s surprise, Valley’s defensive front also won the battle in the trenches against a Bettendorf offensive line with two Division I prospects.
The Bulldogs had just 89 rushing yards on 30 attempts.
“I thought we’d do a little better up front,” Wiley said. “We got thumped, no way around it. We’ll come back to work in the morning.”
Young finished with 75 rushing yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown. He also threw for 86 yards and showed signs of progress throughout the game.
“The second half, he was a whole different player,” Swenson said. “The difference was we had a three-year starter and they had a young guy who is an athlete. He’s going to be pretty good.”
Bettendorf is at home the next two weeks to face Davenport Assumption and Cedar Rapids Washington. Lopsided outcome aside, Wiley was not ready to hit the panic button.
“It is not even September yet,” he noted. “We can’t let this define our season. We had a terrible half of football, got to flush it and go to work for Week 2.
“We have good senior leadership. We’ll be fine.”