DUNCAN — Byrnes was not its sharpest Friday night in the first round of the Division I-AAAA playoffs, but the Rebels were still plenty good enough to earn a 42-14 victory over Wando. Byrnes will play host to Lexington next Friday.
Byrnes quarterback Shuler Bentley passed for 471 yards and five touchdowns, three of which came on three consecutive offensive plays in the first quarter.
Wando was led by Kenny Waring, who rushed 31 times for 186 yards and two scores.
“I have been proud of my team’s effort all year long,” Wando coach Jimmy Noonan said. “Byrnes is a very good team and program. We turned the ball over a few times and allowed big plays, but they’re a big-play team.”
Waring’s 1-yard touchdown run early in the first quarter gave Wando a 6-0 lead before Byrnes responded with 28 straight points to close out the first period.
Byrnes lost two fumbles in the game and had to punt three times, its most since its season-opener, but the Rebels used a strong passing attack and a dominating defensive outing to pull away for the victory.
“I’m proud of the guys. I think any time you can overcome some sloppiness and still win, that’s the mark of a good team,” Byrnes coach Bobby Bentley said.
“The bottom line is I think all of it can be corrected. We’ve just got to clean it up, just a little sloppy.”
Wando was trailing just 28-14 early in the third quarter and had the ball with a chance to cut into Byrnes’ lead when Jared Davis picked off a Bailey Hart pass and raced 18 yards for a touchdown to give the Rebels a 35-14 advantage.
Wando finished the game with just 217 yards of total offense.
“I’m proud of the way the defense made plays all night tonight,” Bentley said. “The defense continued to rise up in key situations.”
Shuler Bentley, who threw four touchdown passes in the first quarter, added his fifth with 6:38 remaining in the game to extend the Byrnes lead to 42-14.
Bentley broke the record for passing touchdowns in a season during the game and currently has 62.
“It’s fun breaking records, but I couldn’t do it without my awesome teammates,” Bentley said. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thrown a screen pass and it goes the distance. I just do my job along with everybody else.”
Najee Bowens caught three of Bentley’s touchdown passes on catches of 47, 82 and 33 yards. Shaedon Meadors added an 80-yard touchdown catch, while Tavin Richardson had a 6-yard touchdown reception.
Bowens finished the game with seven catches for 238 yards, while Meadors added seven receptions for 151 yards.