DUNCAN — Byrnes spotted Spring Valley a three-touchdown lead and then went to work.
The Rebels, down 21-0 after the first quarter, tied it up by halftime and rolled to a 51-21 win at Nixon Field in the opening round of the Class 4A, Division II playoffs.
“There was definitely concern,” Byrnes coach Chris Miller said. “No doubt about it.”
Byrnes (11-1), the No. 5 seed, will play host next week to Spartanburg and continue the quest to win a third consecutive championship. Spring Valley (8-4) was in the playoffs for the first time since 2006 and looking for the first title since 1988.
Spring Valley burst out of the gate and it started on the Vikings’ first snap as Malik Wilson ran 68 yards to the 1. John Miller scored a rushing touchdown from there and added an 18-yard TD run after a 34-yard pass from Chris Adams to Dominique Taylor with a facemask penalty on the Rebels tacked on. On the ensuing kickoff, Byrnes fumbled in the end zone and Jason Lewis recovered for Spring Valley.
The Vikings lost their quarterback, Adams, to an ankle injury early in the second quarter. Miller moved over from the running back spot, but the option-based offense was never the same.
“They loaded the box on us. We knew they would do that,” Spring Valley coach Miles Aldridge said. “We just didn’t do a good job against that and they whipped us.”
Byrnes quarterback Shuler Bentley, plagued on the first few possessions by overthrows and dropped passes, threw for 379 yards and five touchdowns. He broke the school record for passing TDs in a season and has 54 to go with 4,277 yards.
Bentley tossed touchdowns in the second quarter to Shaedon Meadors, Akia Booker and Greg McHam.
“I’m not real sure how it got away from us so quickly,” Aldridge said. “We didn’t tackle very well. Byrnes is outstanding. They got back in the game. We let them back in the game.”
Miller led Spring Valley by rushing for 134 yards and two scores on 20 carries. Wilson finished with 79 yards on 10 carries. The Vikings were 3 of 9 passing for 35 yards.