The Mayo defense had a not so pleasant film session last weekend.

After a game against Austin that saw the winless Packers run for over 200 yards and left coach Donny Holcomb shaking his head in disbelief, the Spartans had their pride tested a little bit.

With something to prove, the Mayo defense responded by forcing four turnovers and holding Byron to just 36 total first half yards as they ended the regular season in style with a 41-15 victory over the Bears Wednesday night at Mayo High School.

The win improves Mayo — ranked fifth in Class AAAAA — to 7-1 overall and solidifies the No. 1 seed along with a first round bye in the Section 1AAAAA postseason bracket. Byron falls to 2-5.

"They responded with discipline," coach Holcomb said. "They played a heck of a game tonight — it was fun to see."

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The defense set the tone, forcing a three-and-out in the game's opening possession before forcing a fumble on the next Byron drive that help set up a Tore Pappenfus 19-yard rushing touchdown. It was the beginning of a first half that saw Byron pick up just four first downs.

"We wanted to respond after what we thought was a bad performance against Austin," junior defensive back Ayden Mesmer said. "We wanted to respond and come back hard. We did that."

But Byron wasn't going to go down without a fight either. Their defense capitalized off the wet conditions, recovering three fumbles and intercepting a pass that went through the receiver's hands. After recovering their second fumble, running back Adam Glynn made it 14-7 after a 15-yard run.

"Our kids fought," Byron coach Ben Halder. "I mean they fought hard. We are playing a school with over 1,000 more students than us and they played their starters pretty much the whole game. We had a chance with a little bit of time left in that second quarter to punch it in and make it 17-14 but those are the things execution-wise we need to do to make a little run here."

After a Mario Magnotto 28-yard field goal made it 17-7, it appeared the Spartans were well on their way to another score as they were driving into Byron territory before a Bennett Ellsworth pass went through the hands of Carter Holcomb and right into the arms of Glynn, who took it 50 yards to the Mayo 8-yard line.

Byron's William Wharton puts the pressure on Mayo quarterback Bennett Ellsworth during Wednesday night's game. Alex VandenHouten / Post Bulletin.
Byron's William Wharton puts the pressure on Mayo quarterback Bennett Ellsworth during Wednesday night's game. Alex VandenHouten / Post Bulletin.

But that's when the Mayo defense delivered, stuffing Byron on a fourth-and-goal at the 2-yard line. The Spartans' offense then went 98 yards, capped off by a great 66-yard catch-and-run touchdown from Carter Holcomb to completely flip the script on the Bears.

"If we get that — you just never know," Halder said. "But we didn't. Credit to them."

The Spartans made it a 31-7 halftime lead, thanks to a blocked punt that made it a short field and a conversion on a fourth-and-12 led to a 7-yard TD from Ellsworth to Cayden Holcomb that effectively put the game out of reach.

When it was all said and done, the Spartans outgained the Bears 388 to 152. Noah Smith finished with 139 yards rushing and a touchdown — a 38-yarder in the first quarter — on just 16 carries. LeBron See-Stadstad added 54 yards, including a 7-yard TD run in the fourth. Ellsworth was 9-for-17 for 181 yards, two touchdowns and a pick with all of his completions going to the Holcomb brothers. Carter had 88 yards on four receptions with Cayden hauling in five passes for 93 yards.

Now, after a solid regular season, the Spartans will wait until Oct. 30 to start their postseason journey.

"The kids have earned it and worked hard to get in this position," Holcomb said. "Now we have to make sure it's sudden death, do or die in the playoffs and we can't make some of these mistakes like tonight that could hold us back."

Mayo 41, Byron 15

Byron 0 7 2 6 -- 15

Mayo 14 17 3 7 — 41

First quarter

M -- Tore Pappenfus 19 run (Mario Magnotto kick), 4:11

M -- Noah Smith 39 run (Magnotto kick), 0:48

M -- Smith 97 kick return (Magnotto kick)

Second quarter

B -- Glynn 17 run (Bradley Pavon kick)

M -- Magnotto 28 kick, 7:54 left

M -- Carter Holcomb 66 pass from Bennett Ellsworth (Magnotto kick), 4:04

M -- Cayden Holcomb 17 pass from Ellsworth (Magnotto kick), 0:21

Third quarter

B -- Ellsworth sacked for safety, 7:10

M -- Magnotto 33 field goal, 3:44

Fourth quarter

M -- LeBron See-Stadstad 7 run (Gideon Heng kick), 7:04

B -- Kale Robinson 12 run (pass failed), 1:28

Byron Mayo

Total net yards 152 388

Rushing yards 107 207

Passing yards 45 181

Pass att.-comp.-int. 9-5-1

Fumbles lost 4-3, 3-3

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing

Byron — Jacob Thompson 18-80 , Adam Glynn 16-70, Kale Robinson 7-minus 37. Mayo — Noah Smith 16-139, LeBron See-Stadstad 6-54, Tore Pappenfus 3-24, Bennett Ellsworth 5-minus 22.

Passing

Byron Robinson 5 completions, 9 attempts, 0 touchdown, 1 interception, for 45 yards. Mayo — Robinson 17-9-2-1, for 181.

Receiving

Byron — Tyler Connelly 1-17, Kylan Brakke 2-13, James Durst 2-15. Mayo — Cayden Holcomb 5-93, Carter Holcomb 4-88.