After losing at Gaffney twice last year during the Indians’ run to their 16th state championship, Byrnes turned the tables before more than 10,000 fans Friday night at Nixon Field.
Isaiah Hill scored four touchdowns and totaled 153 yards offense and Byrnes’ defense held Gaffney to 112 yards in the second half as the Rebels won 61-20.
“Championships seem to run through Gaffney and Byrnes,” Byrnes coach Bobby Bentley said. “This is a big win for our program.”
Byrnes, ranked No. 2 in Class AAAA, improved to 7-1 overall and 4-0 in Region 2-AAAA. Gaffney, ranked No. 9 in the state, fell to 5-3 and 3-1 in region play.
Hill said Byrnes’ players talked during the week about halting their losing streak to the Indians.
“It’s a big rivalry,” Hill said. “I’ve got to give it up for the linemen. It starts up front.”
Byrnes went ahead in the first quarter on a 49-yard pass from Shuler Bentley to Greg McHam. The Rebels elected to go for two after an offsides call on the point-after try, but they missed, and Gaffney answered.
The Indians went ahead 7-6 after Hyleck Foster scored on a 1-yard run. But they couldn’t hold momentum.
The Rebels marched 66 yards to score on their next drive, culminating with a 1-yard run by Hill, and Avery James, Jared Davis, Aymeil Lyles and Tyreik Lyles sparked the Byrnes defense with big plays.
“I’m so proud of our defense,” Bobby Bentley said. “We took so many hits early in the year – ‘What’s wrong with our defense?’ Coach (Mo) Dixon, Coach (Fred) Cross, Coach (Byron) Shells, Coach (Coco) Henderson, Coach (Brandon) Gentry – they’ve done a heck of a job. They have really turned that whole side of the ball around.
“And those guys have really responded. Those seniors who are running a totally different system, now they’re buying into this thing.”
South Carolina commitment and Shrine Bowl selection Shaq Davidson totaled 251 yards offense, and he scored on a 35-yard run in the second quarter when he reached the corner and turned on his speed.
Foster, a Marshall commitment, rushed for 43 yards and two touchdowns for Gaffney.
Shuler Bentley, an Old Dominion commitment, passed for 357 yards and five touchdowns. He has 42 touchdowns and five interceptions.
McHam caught eight passes for 155 yards with two touchdowns.
Shaedon Meadors caught back-to-back passes in the third quarter and recorded his 19th touchdown on a 17-yard reception.