A 40-0 season ending loss to the Show Low Cougars Friday evening dropped the defending state champion Longhorn football team into third place in the final East Division standings.
As a third seed, the Horns (5-3-1 overall, 4-2 in the division) will be forced to take their act on the road for the opening round of the state tournament.
Payson travels Friday evening to Globe for a 7 p.m. kickoff against the Tigers (8-1 overall, 6-1 in the division). The cats enter the tournament opener as the South division runnerup behind champion Coolidge.
Globe is fresh off last Friday's 37-6 South division victory over Sahuarita and has lost only to state second-ranked Coolidge.
After winning four straight games at mid-season the Horns dropped their final two contests by lopsided margins losing 49-7 to Blue Ridge and by 40 points to the East runner-up Cougars.
In Show Low, the Longhorn defense couldn't contain the running antics of Jacob Kerr who scored five touchdowns while rushing for 186 yards on 17 carries.
A week earlier against Blue Ridge, the Yellow Jacket's Charles Parkinson shredded the Horn D for 290 yards rushing.
Against Globe --the surprise success story in the Class 3A conference after finishing 3-6 last season -- the Horns will have to contend with Michael Bolinger who had two touchdown runs against Sahuarita.
The Tigers also proved they are tough through the airways when quarterback Lincoln Hansen finished with six completions on eight passes and two touchdowns.
A victory over Globe would propel Payson into the state quarterfinals to be played Nov. 12 at Mesa or Glendale College.