Horns Fall To Blue Ridge, Only One Game Left In Season

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In the week leading up to Friday's East regional contest pitting Blue Ridge against Payson, a White Mountain radio station scheduled to air the game announced that if the contest turned into a blow out, they'd switch coverage to the Snowflake versus Round Valley game occurring the same evening.

Like some fans, radio officials apparently weren't confident the struggling Horns could give the unbeaten and state top-ranked Jackets much competition.

BR has been a juggernaut all season, winning by lopsided scores of 55-0 (Williams), 56-0 (Holbrook), 53-0 (Alchesay) and 45-0 (Snowflake).

A first glimpse at Friday's final tally Blue Ridge 41, Payson 6 seems to lend support to the contention that the young Longhorns were no match for the tradition-rich Yellow Jackets.

But in truth, the game, played in PHS stadium, was well contested for much of the 48 minutes of play.

In the scoreless first quarter, Payson controlled the ball, executing 16 snaps compared to just nine for BR.

At halftime, Blue Ridge clung to a precarious 13-0 lead thanks in part to a 96-yard second quarter pass from Alex Moro to Toby Elkins.

On the play, Elkins running a fade route snuck behind a Horn defender and outraced the secondary to pay dirt.

In the second half, the Horns closed the count to 13-6 by tallying the first TD the stingy Jackets have given up in six consecutive shut outs.

The score, a fumble recovery by Steve Williamson in the end zone, occurred on the second-half kick off. After fielding the kick, the Blue Ridge returner was sandwiched between pummeling tackles by Scotty Garduno and Caleb Miller. On the hits, the ball popped loose and rolled into the end zone, where Williamson alertly recovered.

With the score, the Horns pulled to within seven points and that's about as close as anyone has been to the Jackets all season.

The two teams continued to battle on even terms until the depth and experience of the Jackets began to pay dividends.

With 9:17 remaining in the third stanza, Show Low-transfer Kenly Ries scored on a one-yard run to up the count to 19-6.

Just as the quarter ran down, Tyler Maxwell tacked on another TD on a 53-yard run.

Two scores in the fourth quarter one on a pass from Moro to Ben Sedillo and the other on a 4-yard run by Ries put the exclamation mark on the BR victory.

Following the game, assistant coach Jack Morris praised his charges, saying the team played courageously while outmanned.

One who drew plaudits from Morris for having his best game of the season was tailback Levi Armstrong.

As the workhorse in the Horn lineup, Armstrong finished with 92 yards in 20 carries.

For the Jackets, Ries finished with 164 yards and Maxwell had 153.

The high-octane Jacket offense primarily fueled by the second-half surge produced 519 yards 341 of which came on the ground.

With the loss, the Horns fall to 4-4 overall and 2-3 in the East.

Payson wraps up the 2000 campaign under first-year coach Mike Wheelis Friday against Show Low. Kick off is 7 p.m. in Longhorn stadium.

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