TACOMA -- Every time Connell got the momentum Saturday, Cascade Christian responded with a big play.
Eventually, the Eagles ran out of time to respond, falling 42-35 in the Class 1A state championship game at the Tacoma Dome.
"That's the only way we get beat," Connell quarterback and linebacker Chandler Salisbury said, "is on big plays. We're used to making defensive stops, but that was a really good team."
Connell, which defeated Cascade Christian 28-7 in the 2009 state championship game, led 35-28 after early in the fourth quarter, but couldn't stop the Cougars.
Cascade Christian scored on a 25-yard pass play from Kyle Stennes to Joshua Schreffler to tie the game with 8:33 left. The Cougars took the lead for good on a 45-yard run by Tyler Walrath, who bounced outside on second down and raced untouched with 2:26 remaining.
"I'm not shocked at the result," Connell running back/safety Matt Hadley said. "I'm shocked by the score and that we let them put up that many points on us.
"Defensively we didn't have a great game."
All six of Cascade Christian's touchdowns came on plays of at least 20 yards. The Cougars finished with only 14 first downs, but had 10 passing plays of at least 15 yards and three rushing plays of 17 yards or more.
Cascade Christian's passing, though, is what did in the Eagles.
"I never thought we'd give up big plays like that," Connell coach Wayne Riner said. "We had a rough day in the secondary. I thought we'd make plays -- that was the surprise, that we didn't make plays."
Cascade Christian finished 7-of-9 on third-down plays and scored the tying touchdown on a fourth-and-10 play.
"It was like a heavyweight fight," Cascade Christian coach Randy Davis said. "We kept knocking each other down and they would get back up and come back swinging."
The Eagles appeared to have all the momentum they would need in the third quarter, as kicker Ivan Barragan recovered an onside kick coming out of halftime.
Three plays later, Hadley was streaking down the right sideline for a 43-yard touchdown run out of the Wildcat formation.
"We had a lot of momentum," Salisbury said. "And then they had the big plays. It's hard to keep fighting when they kept killing us with big plays."
Cascade Christian quickly responded as Stennes hit Jordan Schreffler for a 75-yard touchdown pass down the right side to tie the game up. Connell then went three-and-out and Stennes hit Tyler Walrath on back-to-back plays for 60 yards and another score.
"(The onside kick) gave us some momentum, then 'Bam' big play," Riner said. "When you give up that many big plays, you don't deserve to win."
Connell wasn't done, though, as the Eagles went on a 10-play, 70-yard drive that Hadley capped off with a 5-yard touchdown run. Salisbury hooked up with Kade Eppich on a 31-yard pass to set up the score and James Coulson picked up two first downs while Hadley was on the bench getting his ankle tended to.
On the ensuing kickoff, Cascade Christian's Jordan Zepernick fumbled and Connell's John Mendez recovered to set the Eagles up at the Cougars' 25.
Salisbury had a 9-yard keeper and Coulson then scored on a jet to the left from 14-yards out and it appeared Connell was on its way to winning a second state title, but Cascade Christian responded yet again.
"It's not a good feeling," Salisbury said. "We played our hearts out. I'm just sad it's over and we are losing all those seniors. We'll miss them most."
Hadley finished with 144 yards rushing and four touchdowns. He set the state record for all classifications for touchdowns in a season with 51, breaking the previous mark of 50 held by Bellevue's J.R. Hasty in 2004.
Hadley also finished 2010 with 2,543 rushing yards, good for the fourth most in a single season for all classifications. He was just 23 yards behind Timberline's Jonathan Stewart, who rushed for 2,566 in 2003. The state record was set in 1997 by Ferndale's Matthias Wilson with 2,676.
"It's a cool accomplishment," Hadley said, "but it would be cooler if we would've won back-to-back state championships."
Salisbury finished 12-of-20 passing for 169 yards, while Bryant Andersen had five receptions for 82 yards and Kraymer Eppich had three catches for 45 yards.
Stennes finished 13-of-24 passing for 314 yards and four touchdowns. Tyler Walrath had six carries for 96 yards and two touchdowns, he also had three recptions for 104 yards and two more touchdowns. Schreffler had five catches for 140 yards and two scores.
"We had our chances," Hadley said, "but you can't blame it on any one person. It's a tough loss, we just didn't have enough time."
Cascade Christian 42, Connell 35
Connell 7 14 14 7 -- 35
Cascade Christian 14 0 14 14 -- 42
Con - Hadley 3 run (Barragan kick), 7:32.
Cas - Walrath 39 run (Zepernick kick), 5:58
Cas - Walrath 44 pass from Stennes (Zepernick kick), :03
Con - Hadley 6 run (Barragan kick), :31.
Con - Hadley 43 run (Barragan kick), 10:38.
Cas -Schreffler 75 pass fromStennes (Zepernick kick).
Cas - Walrath 20 pass from Stennes (Zepernick kick), 6:10.
Con - Hadley 5 run (Barragan kick), :50
Con - Coulson 14 run (Barragan kick), 11:23.
Cas - Schreffler 25 pass from Stennes (Zepernick kick), 8:33.
Cas - Walrath 45 run (Zepernick kick), 2.26.
RUSHING- Connell, Hadley 26-144, Coulson 8-37, Salisbury 7-26, Anderson 1-3. Cascade Christian Walrath 6-96, Faverty 10-45, Stennes 5-10, Ossman 2 -(minus-1), Johnson 1-(minus-3).
PASSING - Connell, Salisbury 12-20-0-169, Kr. Eppich 0-1-1-0. Cascade Christian, Stennes 13-24-0-314.
RECEIVING - Connell, Anderson 5-82, Kr. Eppich 3-45, Ka. Eppich 1-31, Hawkins 1-9, Hadley 2-2. Cascade Christian, Schreffler 5-140, Walrath 3-104, Archer 5-70.