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John McLaughlin could not help but have flashbacks to what happened on the same field against the same opponent 10 months ago.

Bettendorf's football team squandered a three-touchdown advantage in the second half to North Scott in the opening round of the Class 4A playoffs and lost 35-26.

The Bulldogs were on the verge of coughing up a 27-point cushion Friday night, but McLaughlin and the offense silenced the Lancers' rally.

McLaughlin sparked a 317-yard rushing attack, and Bettendorf scored the final 28 points for a 55-19 victory at TouVelle Stadium.

"We had that memory of last year in the back of our mind and used it for our own purposes to win the game," said McLaughlin, who registered 191 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns in his first start. "We didn't want that to bite us again."

North Scott trimmed what was a 27-0 deficit to 27-19 late in the second quarter, but McLaughlin reeled off a 49-yard run on third down to set up a Cyle Cox touchdown in the final 35 seconds of the half.

It turned out to be the difference-maker.

"That was huge for us," Cox said. "Our offensive line worked their butts off in the trenches."

Cox, a junior and his second season as the Bulldogs' quarterback, accounted for five touchdowns. He rushed for three and threw 30- and 26-yard scoring strikes to Tyler Scheib.

The southpaw finished with 106 yards rushing and 77 through the air.

"Our offense was very, very good for Week 1," Bettendorf coach Aaron Wiley said. "There are always things you've got to clean up, but I was very pleased there.

"Run, pass, Cyle did it. He's going to be a good one, and we think he's a special player."

The Bulldogs' offensive line of Stephen Soko, Ian Burklund, Kyle Smith, Wade Webster and Jess Jacobsen dominated the line of scrimmage for most of the contest.

"They made holes huge," McLaughlin said.

"In the end, I really thought our offensive line took control, our backs ran hard and found a way to get a win," Wiley noted.

The Bulldogs scored 14 points before the Lancers even took an offensive snap. After Bettendorf scored on its opening possession, North Scott fumbled the kickoff and Justice O'Conner scooped it up and darted 12 yards for a score.

"We talked and knew Bettendorf would come out both barrels blazing, and they did," Lancers coach Kevin Tippet said. "We helped them a lot in that first quarter.

"Give them credit because they played well, but we had four drops, two or three false start penalties. We've got to control the controllable, and we made a lot of unforced errors."

North Scott, which didn't have a first down until 5 minutes in the second quarter, did make it interesting.

Junior Matt Sacia, making his varsity debut, threw three touchdown passes in a 5-plus minute span in the second quarter to turn a 27-0 deficit into a one-score contest.

Sacia, who finished with 185 yards passing, found Ty Williams for a score and hooked up with Ricky Grimes twice. Grimes finished with seven grabs for 106 yards.

"Real happy how we responded because we put our defense in a lot of bad situations," Tippet said.

The Lancers appeared to have all the momentum on a sweltering night until the Bulldogs marched 65 yards in less than 2 minutes before halftime.

McLaughlin had four runs for at least 15 yards.

"In everything he does, he's a butt-kicker," Cox said. "He gets a lot of credit for tonight."

And the Bulldogs' 2013 season is off on the right foot.

"We came out with a lot of passion tonight," McLaughlin said, "and we're going to make a run for it this year."

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Sports Editor

Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.