MAULDIN — Byrnes jumped out to a 28-0 lead then held off Mauldin’s comeback attempt as the Rebels won 35-19 at Freeman Field Friday night. No. 2-ranked Byrnes (8-1, 4-1 Region 2-AAAA) piled up 541 yards of total offense to spoil Senior Night for the Mavericks (5-4, 3-2).
After cutting Byrnes’ lead to 28-13, the Mavericks had momentum late in the third quarter after a big defensive stand. A 17-play drive by the Rebels was stopped at the Mauldin four-yard line on a fourth down incompletion.
However, Mauldin’s 10-play drive on its ensuing possession ended on a punt near midfield. The Rebels then marched 76 yards on a seven-play drive capped by Jaylan Foster’s 12-yard touchdown run. That helped seal the win as Byrnes took a 35-13 lead with 7:59 left to play.
“We just sputtered out right there at midfield,” Mauldin coach Lee Taylor said. “If we could’ve turned that into points I think the momentum would’ve really shifted, but Byrnes is a veteran team. They played hard and stopped us.”
After a diving interception by Mauldin’s Hunter Dawsey ended Byrnes opening drive, the Mavericks missed a golden opportunity to take early control.
On 3rd-and-1 at Byrnes’ 10-yard line, Mauldin quarterback Dre Harris scrambled toward the goal line but fumbled as he crossed it and the ball rolled out of the end zone. Officials ruled that he lost the ball just before breaking the goal line plane and Byrnes took possession on the touchback.
“I’m not going to question the call down there,” Taylor said. “We should’ve protected the ball,”
On their ensuing drive, Byrnes’ quarterback Micah Young hit Chavis Dawkins for a 54-yard gain on a 3rd-and-10 play. Two plays later, Steadman Rogers scored on an 18-yard run for the Rebels.
On Byrnes’ next possession, the Rebels converted a first down on 2nd-and-20. The Rebels faced 3rd-and-13 later in the drive when Young hit Bouvier Howard on a 34-yard touchdown.
Mauldin put together a 13-play drive that was assisted by three Byrnes’ penalties, but ended on a fourth down incompletion at the 35-yard line.
Byrnes then came up with a back-breaking score late in the half. On fourth down, Young and Howard connected on a 49-yard touchdown with 3.7 seconds left in the half as the Rebels took a 21-0 lead into halftime. Young completed 21-of-31 passes for 389 yards, including 286 in the opening half.
“We felt going into halftime, at worst, it should’ve been 14-7,” Taylor said.
Things went from bad to worse quickly for Mauldin in the second half. After Foster returned the second-half kickoff to the Mauldin 49-yard line, Quez Mayes ran for a touchdown on the Rebels first offensive play.
Mauldin fired right back though as Matt Atkins returned the ensuing kickoff to Byrnes’ 22-yard line, and Jason Labrador ran for a touchdown on the Mavs’ first play of the half.
Mauldin then recovered an onside kick. On 4th-and-7, Harris threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Dawsey to cut the lead to 28-13 with 8:11 left in the third quarter.
Harris threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Atkins to close out the scoring with 3:18 left to play.
“Our kids fought in the second half … and I’m proud of them,” Taylor said. “Kids in our program have to learn to turn that corner. We’re real close and when we get there, there’s no ceiling for us.”
Howard led Byrnes’ receivers with seven catches for 168 yards, while Dawkins had four receptions for 100 yards. Mayes rushed seven times for 72 yards for the Rebels, who overcame committing 16 penalties for 172 yards.