The gridiron mystique that Snowflake spun for seasons in their torture of the Payson Longhorns is finally dead and buried.
The final rites were said Oct. 31 in Lobo land where the Longhorns laid Snowflake to rest, 52-15.
The stirring victory represented a complete reversal of Payson misfortunes during a winless streak that lasted from 1980 to 1998.
During that time, the Horns never beat the Lobos, often snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
In the Longhorns’ win on Friday, Payson started slowly playing the Lobos to a 7-7 first quarter deadknot.
But it was Katie-bar-the-door in the middle two quarters as Payson posted 28 points in the second and 14 more in the third to take a commanding 49-7 lead.
In the fourth, Snowflake added a little respectability to the final score on Matt Reidhead’s 83-yard kickoff return and Tyrel Nichols’ safety. But those points were posted against reserves and jayvees that coach Josh Anderson substituted in a show of good sportsmanship and wily coaching.
The Horns’ offensive onslaught against the outmanned Lobo defense began with 11:53 remaining in the second quarter on an 8-yard TD pass from Ridge Halenar to Max Johnson. The score capped a nine-play 53-yard drive and gave the Horns a lead they would never relinquish.
The 42-point outburst concluded with 6:50 to go in the third quarter on Brandon Alexander’s 12-yard TD romp.
Sandwiched between Halenar’s scoring pass to Johnson and Alexander’s TD, were several other stunning highlights including Payson Herring’s 60- and 39-yard scoring scampers.
Herring finished as the leading rusher with 152 yards, 99 of which came on two carries.
Halenar, a signal caller known more for his running than passing, had a night to write home about, finishing 7-of-9 through the airways for 64 yards and three touchdowns.
On the TD aerials, the senior gunslinger spread the wealth around hooking up with Tyler Savage, Westin Gibson and Max Johnson.
As impressive as the passes and long scoring runs were, it might have been the Horns’ game-opening 13-play, 73-yard drive that was equally as remarkable.
It’s those types of drives that require almost almost perfect execution from all 11 players. They also use up time on the clock and keep the ball out of the hands of opponents.
Fullback David Carlen, the Horns’ leading rusher for the year, capped the drive with a 7-yard TD run.
Carlen also turned in a standout defensive game finishing with a team-high 19 tackles while playing middle linebacker.
Savage was a demon on both sides of the pigskin adding 11 tackles and two interceptions to his pair of pass receptions and touchdown.
Also, senior lineman Matt Wilson was a two-way force clearing the way for running backs, protecting Halenar on pass attempts and recording five tackles and a sack.
As a team, defensive coordinator Kenny Hayes’ bandits put the clamps on the once-promising Lobo offense holding Snowflake to 67 yards rushing and 69 through the airways.
With the win, the Horns finish 10-0 overall, 5-0 in the East and win the region title outright.
Payson will also take the No. 1 power points seed into the state tournament set to begin Saturday, Nov. 8 in Payson.
The Horns opponent will be Holbrook, the 16th and final state seed.
Kick off is 7 p.m. in PHS stadium.