In a game that featured 13 touchdowns and 1,235 yards of total offense, the game between Paradise Valley and Cactus Shadows was decided by a defensive play.
The Falcons stuffed Paradise Valley quarterback Ryan Finley on a quarterback sneak and time ran off before the Trojans could run another play in a 49-42 Cactus Shadows victory on Friday.
With the Falcons leading by the touchdown, the Trojans worked their way down the field on the game's final drive in the last two minutes.
Paradise Valley marched down to the Cactus Shadows' 3-yard line and had first-and-goal with 17 seconds left. Neither team had a timeout left.
"I looked at the clock and saw 17 seconds," Trojans coach Donnie Yantis said. " I figured we did it before and we scored."
Paradise Valley tried the quarterback keeper, but Finley was stuffed short of the goal line.
"I think I turned into a playground child jumping up and down begging for the clock to run faster," Cactus Shadows coach Greg Davis said.
The Trojans tried to get back into formation for one last play but time ran out.
"I'll take the heat on that," Yantis said.
The loss drops Paradise Valley to 4-5 and deals a damaging blow to its playoff hopes.
"We're out of the playoffs," Yantis said. "I don't think mathematically we can get in."
He said several upsets would have to happen to get the Trojans in but it was highly unlikely.
The other key play of the game was a special teams surprise.
With the Falcons leading 35-21, they kicked the ball and it bounced off of a Trojan lineman and rolled back towards the charging Falcons. They fell on the ball and took possession near midfield.
"We told them to aim for a guy and drill it right at him," Davis said, "that was our way of trying to get one (onside kick)."
Cactus Shadows (3-6) cashed in 10 plays later with a 1-yard touchdown run from Bryan Lynn to build a seemingly insurmountable 42-21 edge.
Paradise Valley (4-5) rallied back with a trio of touchdown passes from Finley, wrapped around a 1-yard touchdown run by Bryce Kinsler for Cactus Shadows, but it wasn't enough.
Both quarterbacks had stellar nights with Finley throwing for 425 yards and five touchdowns in the loss. Kinsler threw for 317 yards and four touchdowns. He also added 169 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.
"On Monday, I said he was going to officially be moving into Tiny Tebow territory," Davis said, "We told him that he was going to have to run the football now as well."
Kinsler was open to the new idea.
"He (Davis) told me at the beginning of the week I had to get running and I was all for it," Kinsler said.
Cactus Shadows broke out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter on Matt Hartlen's 13-yard touchdown pass from Kinsler and R.J. Anderson's 8-yard rushing touchdown.
The Trojans made it 14-7 when Mikah Ruffino rumbled in from three yards out but the Falcons answered back when Kinsler hit Conner Cozen on a 25-yard touchdown pass to put the Falcons back up two scores.
Paradise Valley rallied back with two Finley touchdown passes to tie the score at 21. Finley hit Jordan Brown with a 65-yard scoring pass before hooking up with Dakota Ferch on a 58-yard bomb on the Trojans' next series.
Cactus Shadows took a 28-21 lead into the half with Cozen's second score of the night, a 10-yard pass from Kinsler. Hartlen scored on a 10-yard pass early in the third quarter right before the key special teams play.
"Tonight was a character revealer for our kids," Davis said, "This shows the character they've been showing all year. We'd like to have more wins but the fact we won the game for our seniors is a huge victory for our program."