Payson Rallies To Down Bradshaw Mountain

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If Dandy Don Meredith had been announcing the Longhorns' 23-14 win over Bradshaw Mountain, he most likely would have chimed in with "Turn Out the Lights the Party's Over" about the time Matt Wilson sacked Bear quarterback Marshall Bailey in the end zone.

Wilson's safety, which came with 40 seconds remaining in the game, upped the Horn lead to nine points and ended any hopes the Bears had of staging a last-second game-tying rally.

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B.J. Hill tries to break loose through several Bradshaw Mountain defenders during the Longhorns 23-14 win Friday evening in Longhorn stadium.

The two-point safety also culminated an amazing comeback, in which Payson fell behind early 14-0, then roared back to outscore the Bears 23-0.

Payson's resiliency was never more evident than in the fourth quarter.

Trailing 14-7, after both teams had gone scoreless in the second and third stanzas, Payson scored on 2- and 20-yard runs by quarterback Ridge Halenar.

Halenar's game tying, touchdown, which was scored with 11:03 remaining in the four quarter, capped a workman-like 10-play 94-yard drive that would have made Woody Hayes, Vince Lombardi and Frank Kush proud.

Halenar scored the go-ahead touchdown with 9:49 remaining.

Payson's first TD, tallied with 2:32 to go in the first quarter, was the results of a 39-yard scamper by Nick Goodman. With the yardage, Goodman moved into fifth place into the East rushing title chase with 309 yards.

Bradshaw Mountain, a 4A Division II school that was added to the Horn schedule only months ago, opened on a tear, taking the kickoff 92-yards for a TD and a 7-0 lead. Only minutes later, Jordan Perdue's 25-yard run upped the Bear cushion to 14-0.

"D" takes over

That, however, was all the scoring Bradshaw could muster as defensive coordinator Kenny Hayes' gritty bandits held Bear's vaunted Wing-T attack in check the remainder of the evening.

Individually, Zack Brooks turned in perhaps his finest effort of the year intercepting a pass and chalking up several key tackles.

"He had a big day," PHS coach Josh Anderson said.

On six consecutive BM possessions, after the Bears had upped their lead to two touchdowns, Bradshaw punted twice, missed a field goal, had a pass intercepted, lost a fumble and turned the ball over on downs.

It was that type of rock-solid, hard-hitting defense that Hayes was hoping for from his brigade of bandits.

As good as the defense was, it did receive some help from the raucous, overflow crowd that packed PHS stadium.

"The crowd was a huge factor," Anderson said." I don't think BM could hear the snap count and got two false start penalties."

Offensively, the Horns showcased a stellar passing attack that rendered Bradshaw Mountain's "stack the box" defensive mentality ineffective.

Halenar completed a season high 15 of 26 passes for 166 yards.

His favorite target of the evening, Shane Keith, hauled in five passes for 59 yards including a 21-yarder.

Tyler Savage was on the receiving end of four passes for 41 yards.

While Halenar was riddling the BM defense with the air attack, Horn runningbacks were picking up sizeable chunks of yardage. Nick Goodman uncorked a 61-yard run and fullback Brandon Alexander scampered for 40 yards.

Halenar led all rushers with 72 yards in 11 attempts.

Although the backs and receivers shined all evening long, it was the domination of the line of scrimmage by both the offensive and defensive linemen that set the tone for the game.

"That's how games are won," Anderson said. "It was a great test."

With a 5-0 record, the Horns now set their sights on the undefeated and state fourth-ranked Show Low Cougars (5-0)

The clash, which kicks off at 7 p.m. Sept. 28 in Longhorn stadium, is the all-important East region opener for both teams and also Payson's homecoming.

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