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Connell survive Othello's comeback 20-15

CONNELL -- The Connell football team has been in a lot of close football games, but maybe none as crazy as Friday's.

The Eagles escaped with a 20-15 season-opening victory over arch-rival Othello when the Huskies' final pass bounced harmlessly to the turf in the end zone with no time left.

"I haven't had that intense of a game since sophomore year," Connell's Chandler Salisbury said. "That was insane. Fun."

Salisbury scored the game-winning touchdown with 2 minutes, 21 seconds left in the fourth quarter, on a 1-yard quarterback sneak.

Othello then moved down the field and eventually had two shots at the end zone in the final 12 seconds, but both times the ball was not caught.

"Our team stepped up and playing like champions when we needed to," Connell's Stefan Davidson said. "This shows heart; it shows character."

The Eagles definitely showed off some championship moxie after watching Othello roar back from a 14-0 deficit in the fourth quarter.

The Huskies pulled within a touchdown on a 23-yard pass from David Garza to Joey Gomez, who gave the Eagles fits all night with his strong inside running.

On the first play of Connell's ensuing drive, Salisbury fumbled the snap and Othello's Juston Lind recovered at the 30-yard line.

Othello didn't take long to take its first lead of the night, as Caleb Garza went 17-yards on a pitch to the left to pull the Huskies within 14-13.

Connell was then called for offsides, allowing the Huskies to go for two. Gomez punched it in over the right tackle to put Othello on top 15-14.

"Our offense really started synching in the second half," Othello assistant coach Josh Barber said. "We showed a lot of character coming back. We told the kids that we won't face a team like that the rest of the year. We played well."

After Othello took the lead, the Eagles found a different gear and went on an 11-play, 80-yard drive to take the lead.

Connell running back Matt Hadley had some of his best runs of the night, going for 25 yards around the right end and then setting up Salisbury's score on back-to-back 7-yard carries.

Kade Eppich and Tyson Brook also had big receptions on the drive for the Eagles.

"I told the kids this is a sign of a championship team," Connell coach Wayne Riner said. "We had a rough night offensively, but started clicking at the end and made some plays."

The Eagles struggled to move the ball most of the night, as Hadley was held to 49 yards before the final drive -- he finished with 93 yards and a touchdown.

Connell scored less than a minute into the game, when Davidson intercepted a David Garza pass and took it 71 yards for the touchdown.

"I've never scored a touchdown before; linemen don't get to score too often," he said. "My defense turned into offense real quick and did a great job blocking."

Connell added another touchdown in the first quarter, when Othello went for a fake punt and was stopped inside its own 40. The Eagles marched down and eventually Hadley scored from the wildcat position. It was the 86th touchdown of Hadley's career, putting him 13 behind Prosser's Kirby Moore for the most touchdowns in Washington state history.

"It was a huge game," Davidson said. "Othello's always circled on our calendar."

Connell 20, Othello 15

Othello 0 0 0 15 -- 15

Connell 14 0 0 6 -- 20

SCORING PLAYS

C--Stefan Davidson 71 interception return (Garrett Salisbury kick), 10:47.

C--Matt Hadley 3 run (Salisbury kick), 6:38.

O--Joey Gomez 23 pass from David Garza (Matt Jones kick), 8:25.

O--Caleb Garza 17 run (Gomez run), 6:35.

C--Chandler Salisbury 1 run (pass failed), 2:21.

STATISTICS

RUSHING--O, C. Garza 18-87, Gomez 13-44, D. Garza 5-3. C, Hadley 20-93, Tyson Brook 2-3, Brenden Holston 3-(-2), team 1-(-2), C. Salisbury 8-(-3).

PASSING--O, D. Garza 13-26-1--130. C, C. Salisbury 11-20-0--166.

RECEIVING--O, Gomez 4-40, Trevor Walker 3-34, C. Garza 3-31, Juston Lind 3-25. C, Kade Eppich 5-100, Hadley 4-52, Austin Huber 1-7, Brook 1-7.

FIRST DOWNS--O 15, C 15. FUMBLES-LOST--O 0-0, C 2-1. PENALTIES-YARDS--O 6-65, C, 7-42.

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