Of Payson’s biggest football rivalries, Snowflake ranks right up there with Blue Ridge and Show Low as the biggest.
The Longhorns love beating the Lobos as much as any of them.
But they’ll have to wait until 2022 to get another shot at Snowflake after the defending state champions won 52-17 in Payson on Friday night.
It’s possible they could meet again in the playoffs, but Payson’s chances of qualifying for the tournament took a big hit with back-to-back losses to Round Valley and the Lobos to open the 3A East.
No. 15 (last week’s rankings) Payson stands at 4-3 heading into Friday’s game at #4 Show Low (6-0).
No. 5 Snowflake (5-1, 2-0 3A East) improved to 11-2 in its last 13 meetings with the Longhorns.
The Lobos and Round Valley are tied atop the 3A East with 2-0 records, with Show Low and Blue Ridge both 1-1.
Payson finds itself tied for fifth with #9 Winslow (4-2) at 0-2. The teams face each other next week at Winslow.
The Longhorns likely need to win all three of their remaining games. They close at home against #12 Blue Ridge (5-2) on Oct. 29.
Payson led Snowflake 3-0 on Mike Dominguez’s 27-yard field goal. The Longhorns trailed just 12-10 after Dexter Waterman’s 1-yard touchdown run in the opening minute of the second quarter.
But the Lobos exploded from there, scoring four more TDs before halftime to lead 35-10 at intermission. They tacked on two more TDs in the third quarter before booting a field goal in the final period.
Waterman connected with Sergio Madrid on a 7-yard scoring pass for Payson with 9.5 seconds remaining.
Caden Cantrell completed 9 of 12 passes for 149 yards and two TDs for the Lobos. Noah Baum caught two passes for 84 yards and a touchdown.
Snowflake rushed for 205 yards, led by Camden Brimhall, who carried the ball 17 times for 79 yards and four TDs.
Snowflake turned the ball over twice on fumbles, including one of the game’s opening kickoff return. Payson took over at the Snowflake 26-yard line and picked up a first down before settling for the field goal.
Payson turned the ball over four times with three interceptions and a lost fumble. Snowflake’s Bradden Lewis returned one interception 41 yards for a TD to go ahead 35-10 with 1:00 left in the first half.