Fumbles Squash Horns' Hopes For Win

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The Coconino Panthers recovered four Payson fumbles and rallied for 21 third-quarter points to upset the Payson Longhorns 28-17.

In the rare afternoon clash played at Cromer Stadium in Flagstaff, the Panthers recovered a Longhorn fumble on the opening play of the second half giving Coconino possession on the Payson 32-yard-line.

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Although school is in a two-week fall recess, members of the Longhorn football team are required to attend daily practice sessions. Monday's practice -- which followed a 28-17 loss Friday evening to Coconino -- was held in the morning. Members learned that quarterback Donnie Wilbanks could be out for the season with a knee injury incurred in the loss to Coconino.

Panther running back Michael Young carried the ball four times driving the ball to the one yard line.

On the next play, Panther quarterback Will Campbell snuck the ball into the end zone to erase Payson's 10-7 halftime lead to give the Cats a lead they never relinquished.

Campbell was a thorn in the Longhorns' side throughout the game. In the first quarter, he returned a fumble 31 yards for a touchdown. Midway through the third stanza, he gobbled up a bad option pitch by Horn signal caller Donnie Wilbanks to give Coconino the ball on the Payson 26.

Just two plays later, Campbell uncorked a scoring pass to teammate Vaughn Howard.

The Horns' lone second-half TD came in the fourth quarter when junior defensive back Derrick Hoosava intercept an errant Campbell aerial and took it 10 yards for a score.

Although fumbles hurt the Payson cause, the failure of the usually potent ground game to get untracked also spelled the demise of Horn hopes for a win.

Williams carried the ball 17 times for 52 yards. Luke Apfel, who has had five games in which he rushed for more than 100 yards, picked up just 50 on 11 carries.

When offensive coordinator Mike Loutzenheiser opted for the air game, it also sputtered. Wilbanks completed two of six passes for 18 yards and had one intercepted. Chris Skinner, who replaced Wilbanks late in the game, completed one of two for 12 yards.

With the loss, Payson falls to 4-3 overall and 0-1 in the Grand Canyon region.

In other regional games played Friday, Flagstaff beat Page 32-3 and Sinagua romped over Mingus 20-6.

The Longhorns will have an opportunity for a first regional victory Oct. 15 in Payson High School stadium against the Mingus Marauders. Kickoff is 7 p.m.

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