Facing one of the state’s top teams on the road in the regular-season finale, the Davenport West Falcons thought maybe they could catch No. 2-ranked Bettendorf napping. It didn’t work.
“They caught us instead,’’ West coach Justin Peters admitted.
Jacob Durkin returned West’s game-opening onside kick 58 yards for a touchdown and the Bulldogs continued on from there to crush the Falcons 60-13 on Friday night at TouVelle Stadium.
Bettendorf (9-0, 4-0 in Class 4A District 8) seemingly did everything right in building a 33-0 first-quarter lead. Almost all of the Bulldogs’ starters took the rest of the night off to rest up for the start of the playoffs Wednesday.
“We’ve got some bangs and bruises so it was good to get the starters out of there,’’ Bettendorf coach Aaron Wiley said. “We didn’t want to be sloppy. We still wanted to function and I think we did that.’’
Wiley said that he just wanted his team to start fast against the Falcons, who suffered their sixth straight loss. He couldn’t have asked for anything more.
It began with an onside kick that Wiley said was unlike anything he’d ever seen. Durkin, a junior linebacker, just happened to be standing there as the ball bounded over to the right sideline.
“I went up and a ball popped out so I just grabbed it and did what I could with it,’’ Durkin said.
He had a clear path straight up the sideline to the end zone.
It was the first of a handful of nightmarish special teams plays for the Falcons in the opening quarter.
After losing six yards on three plays in their first series, the Falcons punted and Carlos Wilson returned it 40 yards to set up a 26-yard Matt Perk field goal. The next punt was blocked, setting up a 4-yard touchdown run by Dax Emerson. The snap on the next punt sailed out of the end zone for a safety.
The Bulldogs had 19 points before they even had a first down.
Emerson also scored on runs of 20 and 14 yards before the opening quarter was over and the rout was on.
The Bulldogs’ defense did its job, too, holding West to minus-36 yards of offense in the opening quarter.
“We were pretty locked in on D,’’ Durkin said. “I think we’re going to be pretty good from here on out.’’
West running back Dot Combs, who was among the state’s leading rushers early in the season, finished the game with minus-8 yards in eight carries although he did have 63 yards receiving.
“He’s a good player,’’ Wiley said. “He’s very athletic so that was our focus.’’
The Falcons eventually got going a little bit and junior speedster Tyrese Ballard scored a pair of touchdowns on a 40-yard interception return and a 22-yard pass from backup quarterback Xavior Calvin.
“The one thing coach told us at the beginning of the year was that he wanted us to compete and and I think we continued to do that even after we got behind,’’ Ballard said.
“Bettendorf is just a good team,’’ Peters added. “It’s the standard we want to get to. If there’s any team here on the eastern side of the state that we want to emulate, it’s them.’’