As Alyn Fletcher streaked up the left sideline with a minute to go, he carried with him all of Catalina Foothills' hopes for a crucial comeback victory.
Starting from his 1-yard line, he burst up the middle to the 30 then cut back left to the 50. He chugged ahead to the 40, to the 30, the 20.
Then, as if to sum up the Falcons' entire turnover-ridden game, things suddenly came to a halt as he ran out of gas. After running 84 yards, Fletcher was caught by Sahuaro's defense at the Cougars' 15. Fletcher threw an interception three plays later, and Sahuaro escaped with a 17-14 win.
While the Falcons dropped to 2-2, Sahuaro improved to 3-1 for its best start since 2004.
"We haven't had a three-game win streak in seven years," Sahuaro quarterback Kevin Ackerley said. "You should see the locker room right now. It's going crazy."
Sahuaro gained an early advantage and held onto it for the remainder.
The Cougars intercepted Fletcher on the opening drive, then went 20 yards and took the lead on a Drew Riggleman field goal.
Fletcher fumbled on Foothills' next drive and the Cougars took further advantage with a 70-yard drive, capped by a 20-yard pass from Ackerley to Joseph Grono.
Less than 12 minutes in, Sahuaro led 10-0.
"Once again, we had too many mistakes," Fletcher said. "We didn't execute our plays like we were supposed to, and it showed."
But for all the mistakes (four Foothills fumbles, two interceptions by Fletcher and several penalties), Fletcher did all he could to keep Foothills in the game. He finished with a game-high 198 yards on the ground and 82 more through the air.
Fletcher had an 18-yard run on third down, late in the first half, which set up Nick Chronister for a 10-yard TD run. That score cut the deficit to 10-7 at the half.
Ackerley scored on a 30-yard run in the third quarter, extending the Cougars' lead to 17-7, but the Falcons didn't fade.
Foothills went 63 yards in 11 plays on its next drive. Fletcher punched it in on a 7-yard run with 7:25 left, cutting the deficit to 17-14.
On their ensuing possession, the Cougars ran more than five minutes off the clock before facing a fourth down. A masterful punt by Riggleman pinned Foothills deep, and a false start took the ball back to the 1.
On first down, Fletcher danced around in the end zone for several seconds before bursting up the middle for his incredible run.
"I just ran out. I ran out of gas," Fletcher said. "I wanted it so bad. I just couldn't get it."