Ferris of Spokane charged to a big lead, then held off a late-game comeback bid by top-ranked Skyline to dethrone the defending champion Spartans.

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TACOMA — Kasen Williams stood with his hands on his hips at the 37-yard line. He didn’t move, didn’t even flinch.

Skyline’s star couldn’t look away. As Ferris players congealed into a sea of scarlet and silver and the reality of the Spokane team’s 24-16 victory in the Class 4A title game settled in, he slumped toward the turf.

“Ferris was a really good team,” said Williams, the University of Washington recruit who experienced his first loss in a game at the Tacoma Dome. “Just like we always are, we’re a second-half team, and this time they just put it on us in the second half. We tried to have a drive and we put up drives, but in order for a championship game to be won, it takes all four quarters.”

Through five playoffs games, the three-time defending champions were either tied or trailed at halftime. Skyline always found a way to recover, until Saturday.

“The bottom line, in the first half, they made some plays and we didn’t,” said Spartans coach Mat Taylor. “We had some really big plays that we could have capitalized on. It just didn’t work out for us tonight.”

Ferris (14-0), despite its No. 3 ranking, was a heavy underdog. But the Saxons’ defense set out to make a statement. They stopped Skyline on fourth down on its first drive, and forced a fumble with the Spartans at the Ferris 10-yard line on their second drive.

On Skyline’s third drive, Cole Lemere intercepted a screen pass, setting up the Saxons’ first touchdown. And, on the Spartans’ fourth drive, the Ferris defense once again stood tall on fourth down. The stop led to another touchdown.

“I’m speechless,” Saxons coach Jim Sharkey said. “It’s indescribable. These kids have been special all year. They played with no fear tonight. They really took it to them the whole game. We knew we were up against a great opponent, but we didn’t back down.”

In the semifinals, Skyline trailed No. 2 Curtis 21-0 in the first half. In the title game, they trailed 24-0 with 2:48 left in the third quarter.

Ferris had just kicked a field goal after Skyline’s sophomore quarterback, Max Browne, was intercepted for the second time.

Things looked bleak for the top-ranked Spartans (12-2). That’s when they went to work. Browne completed his next 11 passes, two for touchdowns.

Trailing by eight, they had two final possessions to rekindle the magic. One drive ended on a fourth-down sack at the Ferris 20. The other resulted in an interception, Cody Sorenson’s second of the day.

“It sucks, man,” said Browne, who was 22 of 38 for 302 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions. “The streak was on the line.”

After the game, Skyline players knelt around senior Jordan Simone.

“I love all of you guys,” he said, before telling them to remember this loss as they train in the offseason.

“The state gave us the hardest schedule a Skyline team has ever faced,” Williams said. “For what we have done this year and for what we have accomplished, I couldn’t be more proud of these guys with what they had to go through.”

Later, Williams found Browne and sent a similar message to the young quarterback.

“You’ve just got to look yourself in the mirror and say, ‘What could you have done differently?’ ” Browne said. “One more rep in the weight room. One more rep on the field. Everyone’s got to look themselves in the mirror and realize what they’ve got to do for next year.”

Mason Kelley: 206-464-8277 or mkelley@seattletimes.com

Ferris 0 14 10 0 24
Skyline 0 0 8 8 16

Ferris — Jordan Tonani 17 pass from Ben Goodwin (Alex Belling kick)

Ferris — Riley Stockton 17 pass from Goodwin (Belling kick)

Ferris — Tonani 2 run (Belling kick)

Ferris — Belling 37 FG

Skyline — Sblendorio 5 pass from Max Browne (Williams pass from Browne)

Skyline — Sblendorio 4 pass from Browne (Sblendorio pass from Browne)

Ferris Skyline
First downs 14 17
Rushes-yards 41-139 13-26
Passing yards 137 302
Comp-Att-Int 14-25-1 22-38-3
Return Yards 65 114
Punts-Avg. 3-33 1-45
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 5-40 5-54
Time of Possession 31:37 16:23

Rushing — Ferris, Kole Heidinger 19-92, Ben Goodwin 15-33, Jordan Tonani 4-9, Drew Sharkey 3-5. Skyline, Kai Jandoc 8-40, Damian Greene 1-(-4), Browne 4-(-10).

Passing — Ferris, Goodwin 14-25-1-137. Skyline, Browne 22-38-3-302.

Receiving — Ferris, Tonani 6-49, Stockton 2-28, Grant Livingstone 1-27, Beau Bozett 4-25, Heidinger 1-8. Skyline, Jordan Simone 8-133, Teran Togia 4-79, Nic Sblendorio 6-49, Kasen Williams 3-40, Austin Bui 1-1.