No. 4 Snowflake built a 27-7 lead late in the first half but couldn’t hold it as No. 20 Payson rallied for a 34-33 overtime victory on Friday, Oct. 11.
The Longhorns improved to 6-1 for the first time since 2008 by snapping an eight-game regular-season losing streak against the Lobos, who fell to 5-2.
Payson improved to 2-0 in the 3A East and is the only unbeaten team in the region. Snowflake dropped to 1-1.
“It was a phenomenal game,” said Payson coach Bryan Burke. “Everybody made a play when we needed them to. Man, I can’t tell you how proud I am of our response.”
Payson entered the game having lost nine of its previous 10 meetings with Snowflake. The lone win was a 7-6 triumph in Snowflake against the No. 2 Lobos in the first round of the state tournament in 2016.
Snowflake marched up and down the field in scoring four touchdowns to go ahead 27-7 with 2:27 left in the second quarter.
But Jesse Conway hauled in a 73-yard bomb from Trevor Cline 29 seconds later to cut the deficit to 13 points at the break.
And Payson ran 8:10 off the clock in a 17-play, 80-yard drive to open the second half. Cline capped it off with a 5-yard TD run to make it 27-21.
Senior Porter Flake entered the game having lost all eight football games he’s played against Snowflake and his cousin, Taylor Flake.
“It’s great,” he said of the win. “I can’t explain it, I’m still processing it.
“Those other eight games, I just said, ‘There’s always next year.’ Now I can’t say that.
“Us seniors in the huddle we were just like, ‘There’s no next year, we have to leave it all on the field.”
And they did.
Conway then raced 22 yards around end to tie the score with 4:43 to play. A bad snap led to a missed extra point that would have given Payson the lead.
The Lobos had a chance to win it on the final play but a 46-yard field goal attempt fell short. In overtime, teams start at the opponents’ 10-yard line and get four downs to score.
Payson won the toss and went on defense. Snowflake’s Brig Turley scored his third touchdown of the game on a 10-yard run on the first play. But Snowflake went for two and Payson’s defense stopped the run short of the end zone.
Snowflake coach Kay Solomon said he wanted to put pressure on the Longhorns on the two-point attempt but credited the Longhorns with keeping them out of the end zone on the play.
When Payson got the ball, Cline picked up seven yards on first down and scored from the 3 on second down. After a timeout, Mike Dominguez kicked the extra point to give Payson the victory, igniting a joyous celebration by players, coaches, and fans.
Cline threw three touchdown passes and ran for two more scores. Conway caught a TD pass and ran for a touchdown.
Payson won the turnover battle 3-2. Jojo Ortiz and Troy Daniels recovered Snowflake fumbles and Marques Alcorta intercepted a pass.
The Longhorns drew nine penalty flags for 56 yards. Snowflake had seven penalties, also for 56 yards.
Snowflake’s Taylor Flake broke a scoreless tie by hauling in a 66-yard touchdown pass from Ethan Ramage with 1:35 left in the first quarter.
Turley made it 14-0 on a 2-yard run with 8:34 to play in the half.
Cline hit Kyle Shepard on a crossing pattern that turned into a 66-yard touchdown reception to get the Longhorns on the board with 5:50 left in the second quarter.
Connor Faust blocked an extra point following a 16-yard TD run by Terren Green with 4:26 to play in the second quarter but Snowflake still led 20-7. The Lobos built a 27-7 lead on a Turley 1-yard run after the visitors somehow recovered the ensuing kickoff at the Payson 29-yard line.
But the Longhorns took over from there.
Payson plays at Show Low on Friday. Snowflake hosts Holbrook.