At halftime, it had all the makings of a major upset.
No. 2-ranked Bettendorf held a slim lead on Iowa City West but the Trojans had gotten their offense rolling, had outgained the Bulldogs and were getting the ball to begin the second half.
They had a chance.
Then within minutes, they didn’t.
A handful of West mistakes and a 5-foot-7 bolt of lightning named Carlos Wilson combined to turn the game around and send Bettendorf on its way to a 43-18 victory in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs at TouVelle Stadium.
The Bulldogs (11-0) will host a yet-to-be-determined opponent in the state quarterfinals Friday night.
“We found a way to get it done,’’ Bettendorf coach Aaron Wiley said after his team had weathered 41 pass attempts by West’s Alex Henderson. “It wasn’t pretty but nobody cares what the score is as long as we advance.’’
Bettendorf had only a 13-6 lead before everything went to pieces for West.
The Trojans (4-7) were flagged for holding on the first play of the second half, then had a center snap sail over Henderson’s head and out the back of the end zone for a safety.
Wilson, a 145-pound junior, then took the ensuing free kick and zipped 64 yards to the 6-yard line, setting up a touchdown run by Dax Emerson that made it 22-6.
“Most importantly on that play my team blocked for me,’’ said Wilson, who had 168 return yards in the contest. “I just read the keys and took the opening.’’
The Trojans’ nightmare didn’t end there. Mason Carter fumbled on the ensuing kickoff and Wilson was there to recover it.
Three plays later, Emerson was in the end zone again following a 3-yard run to make it 29-6 with just two minutes gone in the quarter.
The Bulldogs had a chance to make it even more lopsided after that. West punted and Wilson (who else?) returned it 26 yards to the West 34.
“He’s been a great return guy for us all year,’’ Wiley said. “When he gets the ball in his hands, he’s just electric. There’s not much to him. I don’t even know what he weighs but he knows what to do when he has the ball.’’
Bettendorf failed to capitalize on that chance, however, as receiver Suni Lane fumbled at the 6-yard line and West went on to drive for two second-half touchdowns. But the Trojans never really recovered from the rough start to the half.
“We made too many mistakes against a very good team and Bettendorf took advantage of all of them,’’ West coach Garrett Hartwig said. “This is the fifth time in five years Bettendorf has capitalized on our mistakes to knock us out.’’
Emerson carried 25 times for 121 yards and three touchdowns and quarterback Owen Ridenour also ran for a pair of scores while piling up 172 yards of offense (91 passing, 81 rushing).
Henderson completed 23 of 41 passes for 244 yards and three touchdowns, all to Oliver Martin, but the Bulldogs played a nickel defense the entire night and never allowed the receiver tandem of Martin and Devontae Lane to really break loose.
“Those receivers are as good as any combination I’ve seen,’’ Wiley said. “Lane is a phenomenal athlete and Martin … we haven’t stopped him in three years. But they didn’t get the big plays on us. That was the idea, to keep them in front of us and not let them get anything deep.’’
Bettendorf 43, Iowa City West 18
B -- Matt Perk 33 field goal, 7:27
B -- Park 24 field goal, 2:31
ICW -- Oliver Martin 15 pass Alex Henderson (kick failed), 9:41
B -- Owen Ridenour 5 run (Perk kick), 6:50
B -- Safety: Snap sailed out of end zone, 11:26
B -- Dax Emerson 6 run (Park kick), 11:12
B -- Emerson 3 run (Perk kick), 10:00
ICW -- Martin 8 pass Henderson (kick failed), 3:08
ICW -- Martin 22 pass Henderson (run failed), 0:20
B -- Ridenour 9 run (Perk kick), 5:56
B -- Emerson 2 run (Perk kick), 1:22
Rushing -- West, Alex Henderson 9-53, Yeshuwa Hicks 8-37, Mason Koch 2-1, Mason Carter 6-(-3), team 1-(-10); Bettendorf, Dax Emerson 25-121, Owen Ridenour 11-81, Jovan Jackson 1-(-2).
Passing -- West, Henderson 23-41-1-244; Bettendorf, Ridenour 10-17-0-91.
Receiving -- West, Oliver Martin 8-101, Dallas Majors 5-57, Devontae Lane 5-52, Jacquese Parks 2-23, Carter 2-6, Donovan Doyle 1-5; Bettendorf, Suni Lane 5-24, Ryan Donovan 2-36, Keaton Cain 2-24, Ian Beck 1-7.