Cactus Shadows' defense just wasn't going to give up another touchdown Friday night.
Tommy Murphy intercepted a pass in the back of the end zone to seal the visiting Falcons' 28-21 double overtime victory over Phoenix Greenway (1-1) in 4A action.
"I thought I struggled in the first half," said Murphy, who battled with Greenway's Jacob McIntrye all night. "I figured they were going to run a slant there or throw it up to him."
Murphy wouldn't have had the takeaway in overtime if Cactus Shadows quarterback Dillon Classen hadn't completed a 3-yard touchdown pass to Brady Dombrowski with 17.5 seconds left in the game to cap a 10-play, 57-yard drive.
"These kids kept fighting and fighting," said Cactus Shadows coach Chad DeGrenier. "I think we doubted at times in the way we played the first half. I don't think we came ready to play."
The teams traded scores in the first overtime. Greenway scored first, and Cactus Shadows' Cameron Larson answered on the first offensive play with a 10-yard punishing run into the end zone.
Arizona Interscholastic Association rules state that each team gets a chance per overtime to start from the opponents' 10-yard line with four downs to score a touchdown or field goal. The game is over when one team outscores the other in overtime. Otherwise, another overtime period is played.
The second overtime began with another quick strike from Cactus Shadows (2-0) when Classen called his own number and ran untouched from 10 yards out. Three plays later Murphy intercepted the Demons' pass for the victory.
"Our defense stepped up big time," DeGrenier said. "This week it was the defense, and when the offense had the opportunities we made plays when we had to."
Cactus Shadows' offense struggled most of the game, but it did manage a score just before halftime when backup quarterback Paul Walsh found Classen over the middle for a 15-yard strike.
Classen was split out as a wide receiver a couple of times but did most of his damage under center. The senior completed 19 of 36 passes for 134 yards, with most of it coming on screens and short passes while being intercepted three times. He rushed for 66 yards.
Zach Sexton contributed to the Falcons' ground attack with 66 yards on 13 carries.
Not only did Dombrowski catch the game-tying TD pass, but he also caught nine passes for 73 yards.
Cactus Shadows' defense kept the game close by recovering four fumbles, including two in the first half.
LIVE IN-GAME UPDATES
Phoenix Greenway connects on a 33-yard pass and score on 39-yard rush to open the scoring. It's 7-0 Greenway early in the first.
Cactus Shadows backup QB Paul Walsh finds starting QB Dillon Classen on a 15-yard pass over the middle on a bit of trickery. That ties it up 7-7 with 48.1 seconds left in the half.
Cactus Shadows throws an interception on the Greenway 41 and the Demons cash in on a five-play, 65-yard drive to go up 14-7 with 8:43 left in the game.
We're tied up at 14 at the end of regulation. Headed for overtime.
Cactus Shadows beats Greenway 28-21 in the second overtime.
Cactus Shadows (1-0) at Greenway (2-0)
Time: 7 p.m.
Address: 3930 W. Greenway Road, Phoenix
Key matchup: The Cactus Shadows secondary needs to shut down the Demons' big-play passing offense. Phoenix Greenway had two receivers average 31 yards per catch in its opener, while the Falcons gave up just 80 yards through the air in a big win at Vail Cienega. In that game, Tommy Murphy had three interceptions.
Key stat: Falcons wideout Joree Schneider was nearly unstoppable in the win over Cienega, catching 12 passes for 161 yards and three touchdowns.
Intrigue: How well can Cactus Shadows put last week's huge victory over a ranked team behind it? That will be critical because if the Falcons dwell on the win too long, the Demons will be there to bring them down to earth.