Midway through the third quarter, Saguaro found its "on" button, and once the Sabercats pressed it, the season was over for Queen Creek.
The No. 5 Sabercats scored 28 consecutive points - with their offense, defense and special teams all contributing - in less than eight minutes during the second half to put away fourth-seed Queen Creek, 56-28, in a Division III quarterfinal game Thursday night.
In the midst of that flurry, Saguaro's D.J. Foster scored his first touchdown of the night on the team's opening drive of the second half from a yard out. That score gave him the state's single-season touchdown record of 52, breaking Tucson Sabino's Nathan Wize mark set in 1997.
"Getting the record is great, its also a team accomplishment," said Foster, who rushed for 153 yards on 17 carries. "But our goal is always the title."
Saguaro (10-2) will face No. 1 Tucson Sabino next Saturday night at Paradise Valley High School in what many believe is the de facto state championship game.
After lighting up Queen Creek's scoreboard, the Bulldogs (10-2) were inclined to agree.
"They are a great team," Bulldogs coach Joe Germaine said. "They made some adjustments at halftime and we didn't execute as well."
Queen Creek matched Saguaro through most of the first half, and even tied the game at 14-14 on quarterback Carson James' 1-yard touchdown run with 1:37 remaining in the second quarter.
But from that point, Saguaro went, well, Saguaro on the Bulldogs.
The Sabercats needed just 40 seconds to go 60 yards in five plays, and quarterback Luke Rubenzer scoring from 12 yards out.
The 21-14 halftime lead was the beginning of the end for the Bulldogs.
Queen Creek moved the ball to midfield on the opening possession of the second half, but lost five yards on fourth-and-2. Seven plays later, Rubenzer again scored from 12 yards out for a 28-14 lead. Rubenzer completed a 12-yard pass to Christian Kirk on Saguro's own fourth-and-5 play from Queen Creek's 40 to keep the drive going.
"We were pretty calm at halftime," said Rubenzer, who finished the night with 60 yards rushing and 118 passing. "Mostly I just had to be more patient. The plays were there, I just needed to look for my third option or a little different opening."
The Bulldogs had to punt on their next possession, and Foster took over from there. Foster went 74 yards for his second score of the game to put the Sabercats up 35-14 with 58 seconds left in the third quarter.
Saguaro's defense then joined the scoring column as Kash Robinson returned a fumble eight yards on Queen Creek's next possession. The Bulldogs fumbled again on their ensuing drive - its fourth turnover of the night - which led to a 14-yard scoring pass from Rubenzer to Dakota Reistad. And just like that it was 49-14 Saguaro with 10:25 to play.
"Having the offense that we do, it sure makes things a lot easier," said Reistad, who intercepted a pair of passes as well. "In the second half, we just played our assignments better on defense."
The Bulldogs managed a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns, on passes from Carson James to Marcus Still (two yards) and Eric James (six yards). In between those scores, Saguaro's Elijah McDade returned an attempted onside kick 50 yards for a touchdown.
"We know we are capable of putting up big points," Rubenzer said. "We have the feeling we can score anytime. Our coaches will find the defense's weakness and we just go from there."