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The conditions were crummy and the field was muddy. Kyle Smith was right at home.

"We had to play low and play in the trenches," Bettendorf's senior offensive lineman said. "We practiced that all week long."

Tailback John McLaughlin reaped the benefits.

Behind McLaughlin and a dominant offensive line, the Class 4A 10th-ranked Bettendorf football team marched to a 34-7 triumph over North Scott on Wednesday night in an opening-round contest at a wet and sloppy TouVelle Stadium.

McLaughlin finished with a career-high 252 rushing yards and four touchdowns to propel Bettendorf (8-2) into Monday's second round at Iowa City West (9-1), a 69-7 winner over Dubuque Hempstead.

"Our offensive line was phenomenal," McLaughlin said. "They made big holes, and that's all you can ask for."

McLaughlin rushed for 191 yards in a 55-19 win over the Lancers on Aug. 30. He nearly equaled that total at halftime.

The Bulldogs scored on their first three possessions, including a 75-yard touchdown run from McLaughlin with 3 minutes, 31 seconds left in the opening quarter.

By night's end, McLaughlin carried the ball 36 times on Bettendorf's 44 running plays.

"John is just a warrior," Bettendorf coach Aaron Wiley said. "He looks like a freshman and can't weigh more than about 160 pounds, but he's a gutty, gutty kid and a warrior with the ball.

"Our offensive line was outstanding, and that's how you win playoff games — control the line of scrimmage."

Bettendorf had a 24-7 cushion at halftime, nearly identical to the advantage it had a year ago against North Scott. But instead of a furious second-half Lancer comeback, the Bulldogs silenced them.

"We did not want to repeat last year," said senior defensive back Michael Lintz, who picked off a pair of passes. "We want to show we're a completely different team and we have the ability to close out games."

North Scott (5-5) finished with four turnovers and failed to score three times inside the Bettendorf 10-yard line.

Matt Sacia passed for 219 yards, but the Lancers were stymied to just 86 yards on the ground. Tailback Jacob Ridgeway, who had at least 90 yards in each of the last four games, was limited to 12 yards on 10 rushes.

"If you can't run the ball consistently, especially in these conditions, they can tee off and do a lot of things coverage-wise," North Scott coach Kevin Tippet said. "Matt was under pressure a lot of the night."

Tippet said rain and field conditions played a part, but he didn't use it as an excuse.

"We were going to throw the crap out of it tonight, so it does hamper things a little bit," he said. "But come playoffs, you've got to stop the run and be able to run the ball, and we struggled with both."

North Scott had won first-round playoff games each of the last three years.

"I feel bad for our 17 seniors; they gave us a great effort tonight," Tippet said. "Hopefully for the kids coming back, it serves as motivation."

The seven points, which came on a Jordan Gronewold 53-yard touchdown reception on North Scott's first possession, were a season low for the Lancers.

Tippet's team had not been held below 30 in five weeks.

"We made them a little bit one dimensional," Wiley said. "For the most part, we contained what they do, and that's not easy because they're a very good offense."

And Bettendorf's running game and offensive line did the rest.

"Playoffs are a whole different atmosphere," McLaughlin said. "Even in weather like this, it didn't faze us and we were ready to go.

"The running game is good to have in times like this."


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.