Friday's East division gridiron clash against the lowly Alchesay Falcons was predicted to be a lopsided blowout, but penalties and fumbles slowed the Payson express on the way to a 21-0 victory.
Had it not been for a 15-point uprising in the fourth quarter, the Horns might have had to settle for a 6-0 triumph after the two teams fought to a scoreless first half.
It's redundant, but a win, is a win, is a win, and the Horns will settle for the triumph as ugly as it might have been.
The defending state champion Horns now stand 3-1-1 for the year, but more importantly, are unbeaten (2-0) in all-important East play, and they're steaming toward a divisional showdown at 7 p.m. Friday evening in PHS stadium against the Holbrook Roadrunners.
A win over the Runners would provide all types of momentum for the Horns as the squad enters the most crucial part of its schedule. In the three following weeks, Payson goes helmet to helmet against the division bad boys -- Snowflake (Oct. 15), Blue Ridge (Oct. 22) and Show Low (Oct. 29).
Prep football just doesn't come any better than that.
In the victory over Alchesay in Whiteriver, the Payson "O" rolled up a whopping 305 yards of total offense, but could only put 21 points on the board.
Three lost fumbles and 15 penalties for 139 yards seemed to thwart the Longhorns at every down marker.
In a game that was looking like it could end in a ho-hum scoreless deadknot, senior quarterback Kyle Conway finally lit up the scoreboard on a 21-yard scoring run off an option play with 9:08 remaining in the third quarter.
The conversion kick failed.
The Horns upped the count to 12-0 early in the fourth quarter when defensive end Sterling White yanked a deflected pass attempt out of the air and rambled untouched 65 yards into the end zone.
Timmy Bunting's two-point conversion upped the count to 14-0.
With only 47 seconds remaining, the Horns tacked on an insurance TD with a 3-yard run by Dusty Brockett.
Brockett successfully booted the extra point.
While the offense was rolling along unchecked but scoreless, defensive coordinator Mike Wheelis' bandits were holding the Falcons to a miserly 117 yards of total offense.
The 1999 regular season will wrap up at the conclusion of the Oct. 29 game in Show Low.
State tournament first-round play beings Nov. 5 at the home of the higher seed and culminates with the state championship game Nov. 29 at Mesa College.