Horns Soundly Spanked By Lobos

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Longhorn football players and coaches saw enough of Snowflake’s Robby Martindell on Oct. 2 in Lobo land to last them a lifetime.

In the Lobos’ 31-0 spanking of Payson, the Snowflake gridiron star was simply a one-man wrecking crew.

For proof, check out these stats:

• 9:39 first quarter — Martindell scores on a 55-yard TD pass.

• 3:17 first quarter — Martindell boots a 37-yard field goal.

• 9:03 second quarter — Martindell scores on 49-yard TD reception.

• 4:03 third quarter — Martindell kicks extra point.

• 10:22 fourth quarter — Martindell scores on 25-yard TD reception.

• 2:07 fourth quarter — Martindell kicks school record 45-yard field goal.

In all, Martindell scored 25 of Snowflake’s 31 points.

And while the Snowflake stalwart was running rampant, Payson’s “O” could never get untracked, picking up a mere 145 yards of total offense.

Most alarmingly, Payson passed for possibly the lowest total yardage in school history — three yards.

Of the Horns’ 17 pass attempts, only three were completed and three were intercepted.

One of those picks, thrown by Jake Sleeper late in the third quarter, was intercepted and returned for a Lobo touchdown.

Couple those passing miscues with three three fumbles, one of which was recovered by Snowflake, and the evening turned into a total fiasco for PHS players, fans and boosters.

The Longhorns entered the game armed with one of the most elusive running backs in the 3A conference — Payson Herring.

But the junior scat back couldn’t duplicate his heroics of a week earlier when he rushed for 207 yards, leading the Longhorns to a 42-7 win over Santa Cruz.

Against Snowflake, Herring was held to 42 yards on 13 attempts and was forced to the sidelines late in the game with an injury.

Westin Gibson, who rotated at quarterback with Sleeper, was the Horns’ only legitimate running threat, picking up 71 yards on 12 carries. Among his carries was a 22-yarder, which represented a huge accomplishment on a night the team struggled from the onset.

While the Lobo machine was churning out yardage in huge chunks, Payson was struggling to keep alive sustained drives.

Of Payson’s 12 drives, five were three-and-outs. Another ended in a pass interception and one, which occurred just before the halftime buzzer, resulted in minus-eight yards.

The Horns’ longest drive of the evening was nine plays and 52 yards, but it ended with a Lobo interception.

Tough times at Payson High

With the loss, the Horns fall to 2-4, 0-2 in the East region, and in danger of not qualifying for the state tournament.

Around the East, fans are wondering when was the last time any team failed to qualify for playoffs after winning the state championship the previous year.

Boosters can’t seem to recall that occurring recently, but it certainly is a possibility for Payson if a huge turnaround doesn’t take place.

It’s tough to peg Payson’s playoff chances on power points because points are this year being awarded only for the final seven games.

Which means, points have been doled out for only two games and a true reading of how teams stand in the system won’t be known for at least another two games.

The points are so skewed through week four they show Chino Valley, with a 1-3 season’s record tied for second with Round Valley and Show Low.

Currently, Blue Ridge is the only undefeated team in the East, sporting a 5-0 record, 2-0 in the region.

Show Low is 1-0 in the East and Snowflake and Round Valley are both 1-1.

Those four teams appear bound for the post-season Promised Land, meaning Payson’s chances of reaching the playoffs might rest on five region teams advancing.

But with games against Fountain Hills (Oct. 9), Blue Ridge (Oct. 16) and Show Low (Oct. 30) remaining, the Horns are facing three of the finest schools in the 3A ranks.

Wins against those teams will be tough to come by in light of the Horns’ struggles this season.

Lowly Alchesay (0-1, 2-4) on Oct. 23, appears to be a breather, but even a victory against the Falcons won’t greatly improve Horn post-season fortunes.

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