Top-Ranked Lobos Defeat Horns

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Snowflake's 31-24 homecoming win over Payson Friday evening has lifted the Lobos into sole possession of first place in the East region standings.

The Lobo triumph also ensures that Snowflake will remain the top-ranked team in the 3A conference as it has been the past two weeks.

Prior to the Friday night clash, Snowflake and Payson both sported 4-0 records and were ranked first and second in two of three state prep polls.

In the other, Payson was first and the Lobos second.

What effect the Longhorn's loss will have in the state polls won't be known until later today (Tuesday) when the rankings are released.

The Longhorns have the opportunity to rebound from the loss Oct. 11 in Eagar. Kick off against the Elks is 7 p.m at the Round Valley High School dome.

If the Horns are to rebound against the Elks, the team will have to retool a defense that allowed the Lobos 434 yards of total offense.

"Our defensive line got dominated," defensive assistant coach Mike Loutzenheiser said. "If we meet them again, we have to control the line of scrimmage."

Most of the game, it was the Payson offense that was in control of the ball (29:52 to 18:08 for Snowflake), but when the Lobos took over, they averaged more than 10 yards per play.

After kicking off a half-hour early in Lobo stadium due to the homecoming festivities, both teams went three-and-out on their first possessions.

The second time the Lobos took over, the Snowflake offense churned out a four-play 89-yard drive that culminated with Chad Green fumbling in the end zone and the Lobos recovering for a TD.

After Payson's Chad McRae booted a field goal to close the Lobo lead to 7-3, Snowflake's Paul Johnson's capped a short drive by fumbling into the end zone. Once again, Snowflake recovered and the Lobos had a 13-3 cushion. Troy Johnson kicked the extra point.

Armchair quarterbacks might point to the two end zone fumbles that Payson failed to recover, as the scores that turned the tide against the Longhorns.

By halftime, the Lobos had upped their lead to 17-3 thanks to a second quarter 25-yard field goal off the toe of Troy Johnson.

After watching his offense sputter much of the first half, PHS coach Steve Saban finally got a glimpse in the third quarter of the Wing-T that averaged almost 300 yards in the first four games.

With 6:38 remaining in the third, an 18-yard TD pass from Nate Perna to Waylon Pettet capped a 14-play 80-yard drive. McRae kicked the extra point.

But almost before Payson fan enthusiasm could die down in the stands, Snowflake came roaring back with a touchdown of its own. Lobo running back Paul Johnson, who the PHS coaching staff had worked on defending most of the practice week, broke loose on a 70-yard scoring scamper.

Trailing 26-10, the Horns rallied on two touchdown runs by sophomore fullback Tyler Williams.

With 5:10 remaining in the game, Snowflake's strong-armed signal caller Porter Caldwell hooked up with Joey Cosper on a 43-yard TD aerial that iced the Lobo win.

Following the score, Payson's attempt to tally a game-tying TD ended when Troy Johnson intercepted a Perna pass.

Only minutes later, the Horn defense held Snowflake to three-and-out which allowed the Horns one last-gasp effort.

After hooking up with Waylon Pettet on a 45-yard completion, Perna threw on the final play of the game 26-yards to Mike Barr.

Some in attendance, including the PHS coaching staff, thought Barr was in the end zone and had scored a TD. In a controversial decision, the officials ruled that Barr was short of the goal line and there was no TD.

Star slowed

A key to the Lobo victory was the defense's ability to contain Pettet's running antics.

In 18 attempts, Pettet picked up 85 yards and had a longest run of 15 yards.

His 4.7 yards per carry was much less than the 10-yard average he racked up in the first four games.

Williams, who picked up most of his yardage on trap plays between the guards, had 50 yards on 17 carries.

When Perna went to the airways, tight end Mike Barr was most often his favorite target. Barr caught five passes for 169 yards.

Through the airways, Perna completed eight of 23 passes for 240 yards and one touchdown.

His three interceptions, two of which came in the fourth quarter when the Horns were trying to rally, put a crimp in the Longhorn offense.

Defensively, the Horns were led by senior end Jake Swartwood the Roundup's Player of the Week in the Horns' Sept. 27 win over Tuba City.

Swartwood finished with a game-high five tackles and now has 20 for the season.

Klayton Haught, Derek Daniels and McRae chalked up three tackles each.

Freshman action

In Thursday evening action, the Horn freshman team thumped the Lobos 40-0. Payson's jayvees emerged victorious 21-15.

In the freshmen win, which upped the team's record to 4-0, coach Don Engler cited linebackers Cash Armstrong and Josh Blalock for their outstanding play. Running back Luke Apfel and the offensive line also drew praise from the coaching staff.

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