By Greg Perkins
It took the Lobos a while to get going, but once they did they had little problem getting past Payson 43-8 in the opening round of the Division IV State Football Playoffs.
Hosting the Longhorns, Snowflake found the end zone just once in the first when Chase Walden scored the first of his four rushing touchdowns, this one from only three yards out. Kirt Solomon’s point after gave the home team a 7-0 lead.
Walden also scored the only touchdown of the second period with 8:17 left in the half, giving the Lobos a 15-0 halftime cushion.
While Walden was the one putting the ball in the end zone, Braccin Tanner was the player who gave the Longhorns fits for much of the night. Tanner accounted for 302 of Snowflake’s 520 total yards of offense. He rushed for 139 yards and had receptions totaling 163 yards.
Snowflake scored twice in the third. Another short Walden run came at the 9:07 mark, then Walden and Rick Shumway hooked up on an 11-yard connection with just over a minute left in the quarter, pushing the margin to 29-0.
Tanner scored on a 42-yard run early in the fourth, then just three minutes later Walden scored again from four yards out, posting the Lobos’ final points of the night. Payson avoided the shut out with 5:08 left in the game on a Tyus Sarnowski seven-yard touchdown reception from Gunner Goodman.
Dallin Merrell threw one pass good for 57 yards, and Walden was good on 11 of 16 throws for 221 yards with one score and one pick. Tanner caught four balls for 163 yards, Nick Hall had one catch for 45, Merrell caught two for 30, Spencer Davis had two for 29 and Rick Shumway had one grab good for 11 yards and a score.
On the ground Tanner led the charge, gaining those 139 yards on only nine runs. Walden carried 11 times for 59 yards and Shumway gained 30 yards on three attempts.
With the win the Lobos advance to face No. 12 Empire, which upset Estrella Foothills 28-21 in the opening round. This game will be played at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10, at Washington High School. The winner will most likely have to face top ranked Blue Ridge in the semifinal round next week, as the Jackets should cruise past River Valley Saturday evening.
If the Lobos keep playing well with a balanced offensive attack, they may be the only team that can challenge Blue Ridge’s quest for another title.
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By Greg Perkins