Byrnes is for real.
Northwestern coach David Pierce would have told you that before Friday night’s game after watching Rebels film all week, but thousands more people found out at District Three Stadium. Byrnes stymied Northwestern offensively and punished the Trojans’ numerous special teams mistakes en route to a 48-14 win.
“It starts with special teams and defense,” said Byrnes coach Reggie Shaw. “They set the tone, flying around being physical. Each week we’ve found a way to win and special teams has been a big part of it and defense has been a big part of it.”
Two of the best high school football programs in South Carolina produced a sloppy spectacle that dragged on into the night.
Northwestern’s first possession ended in a 2-0 Byrnes lead when the snap sailed over the Trojans’ punter’s head and into the end zone for a safety. The Trojan defense forced a Byrnes punt late in the first quarter but then handed the Rebels (4-0) a new four downs by roughing the kicker. That led to a Brock Carroll touchdown, before Byrnes’ Josiah Irby blocked a Northwestern punt on the following possession, returning it for a 22-yard touchdown and a 16-0 lead with 9 minutes left in the half.
That left plenty of time for Northwestern (2-2) to snap another ball over its punter’s head, which led to a Byrnes field goal, and have its own 36-yard field goal attempt blocked. Another mishandled punt snap in the third quarter led to a second Byrnes safety but by then the game was essentially decided.
“They’re a good team, we were not a good team tonight,” said Northwestern coach David Pierce. “We have to play 100 percent every time we step on the field to have a chance, to have a chance to win.”
Byrnes’ opportunistic second quarter explosion - the Rebels outscored Northwestern 24-0 in that period - rendered the second half a largely inconsequential 30 minutes.
Northwestern finished with double-digit penalties and hurt itself offensively with a number of holding flags, several coming early in possessions and forcing the Trojans to make up twice the yardage for first downs. They converted just 1 of 15 third down plays.
“We’re not real big but we’re fast on defense,” said Shaw, the former A.C. Flora and Blythewood coach in his first season in charge of Byrnes’ program. “That creates a lot of problems for people and we try to mix it up between three and four-man fronts.”
And of course the Trojans’ special teams goofs buried any chances they had of beating Byrnes a second year in a row. The margin of victory was the Rebels’ largest against Northwestern, topping a 19-point win in 1984.
“The special teams performance was sub-par tonight,” said Pierce. “We come out the gates, special teams error down two, special teams error down nine. Defense had several series playing lights out and it looked like we were gonna compete.”
The Rebel defense combined for 14 tackles-for-loss. Four different Byrnes defenders - Khalid Jones, Nate Good, Omar Foster and Irby - had two each.
Sophomore Rajhai Harris had a 53-yard touchdown catch and a 77-yard TD run that iced the game in the third quarter, while Zy Young added a 73-yard sprint for six points later in the game.
Northwestern defensive back Deylajure Addison had two tackles-for-loss in the first half, while Jamario Holley made a couple of long catches on nice throws by QB Dustin Noller. Holley finished with four catches for 109 yards and a touchdown.
Byrnes hosts Broome, while Northwestern continues its Region 3-5A challenge with a road contest against Spartanburg.
Byrnes 48, Northwestern 14
Northwestern;0;0;7;7 - 14
Byrnes;2;24;15;7 - 48
BHS - safety, 10:24
BHS - Brock Carroll 22 run (Luis Hernandez kick), 10:49
BHS - Josiah Irby 20 blocked punt return (Hernandez kick), 9:07
BHS - Hernandez 29-yard field goal, 6:14
BHS - Ben Henson 13 pass from Carroll (Hernandez kick), 1:05
NHS - Jamario Holley 15 pass from Dustin Noller (Thomas Gettys kick), 8:46
BHS - Rahjai Harris 77 run (Hernandez kick), 8:08
BHS - safety, 3:19
BHS - Henson 53 pass from Carroll (kick blocked), 2:20
NHS - Ger-Cari Caldwell 33 run (Gettys kick), 7:36
BHS - Zy Young 73 run (Clayton Crile kick), 6:22
RUSHING Byrnes: Rahjai Harris 11-89; Zy Young 2-79; Brock Carroll 10-47; Quez Mayes 9-43; Alec Davis 6-11. Northwestern: Dequez Harris 12-28; Dustin Noller 13-15; Jordan Starkes 5-12; Trey Robinson 1-3; Marquez Cherry 1-0.
PASSING Byrnes: Carroll 10-17-0-2, 123 yards; Cary Enos 3-6-0-0, (-2) yards. Northwestern: Noller 17-30-0-1, 221 yards; Starkes 1-3-0-0, 34 yards.
RECEIVING Byrnes: Harris 2-59; Ben Henson 2-20; Braylin Johnson 1-14; T.J. Young 2-11; Jake Childers 1-6; James Rhodes 1-5; Roshawn Newton-Johnson 2-5; Mayes 1-2; Alex Deck 1-(-1). Northwestern: Starkes 5-51; Jamario Holley 4-109; Ger-Cari Caldwell 2-49; Gregory Bivens 3-29; Harris 3-15; Brentyn Switzer 1-2.
RECORDS Byrnes 4-0; Northwestern 2-2.