Unable to hold on to their late-game lead, the Coconino Panthers fell to the struggling Payson Longhorns on Friday in Payson, 16-14, in a nonconference matchup.
The 3A Conference Longhorns, who entered Friday with an 0-3 record after getting outscored by their first three opponents by a combined score of 136-13, held the 4A Panthers scoreless in the opening half and took a 10-0 lead into the break.
Coconino, now in possession of a 1-2 record and a two-game losing streak, got on the board in the third quarter and took a 14-10 lead in the final frame when Abel Harris recorded a 68-yard touchdown catch off the line of scrimmage. But Payson, which beat Coconino in Cromer Stadium 34-14 a year ago, used a 16-yard TD run to regain the advantage and hold on for its its first win of the season, ending a three-game homestand on a positive note.
With Payson pinned against its own end zone and punting, Coconino was called for running into the kicker, taking away any chance for a quick rally as the Longhorns got the first down and ran out the clock from there.
Coconino will play the final game of a three-game road trip next Friday against Mohave to open up its Grand Canyon Region schedule.