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Barbers Hill running back Cohn Betz, 27, pushes ahead for a gain during the Eagles 55-35 Region 3 defeat to Manvel in Friday’s Region 3 semifinal at NRG Stadium. Barbers Hill finished the season with an 11-2 record.

Balanced run, pass attack leads to Eagles elimination

HOUSTON – The dream has ended, but the Barbers Hill 2019 football journey was one for the books.

At NRG Stadium today, the Eagles saw its playoff run ended 55-35 by the Manvel Mavericks in a Region 3 semifinal at NRG Stadium.

Manvel senior running back Donovan Eaglin finished with 19 carries for 287 yards and five backbreaking touchdowns for the Mavericks. 

The Eagles (11-2) gave up 20 consecutive points during a first and second quarter run by the Mavericks (13-0) that put them up 41-14 with 1:29 left before halftime.

Eagle quarterback Christian Kaopua finished 7-for-18 with 95 yards passing and 25 carries for 206 yards rushing including four touchdowns, three in the first half.

Receiver Cameron Cauley completed his junior season with two catches for 90 yards while senior Cohn Betz ran nine times for 29 yards for the Eagles.

“We knew it was going to be a pretty tough game,” Barbers Hill head coach Tom Westerberg said. “They are pretty athletic and we knew we had to play perfect and we didn’t play perfect and that’s the whole thing.”

Manvel quarterback Tucker Yarbrough hit a number of big passes to the tune of 247 yards and three touchdowns with a quarterback rating of 129.5. Jalen Walthall was the big recipient of those passes, catching two touchdowns and collecting 147 yards worth of passes 

Manvel finished with 576 total yards.

“They get you out in one-on-one coverage stuff, they are a little bit better athletically than we are and they caught some good passes,” Westerberg said. “If you want to stop the run or the pass, they are pretty hard to defend.

“They were a little bit better than us up front.”

Kaopua kept the Eagles within range of a potential rally with his four touchdown runs but Manvel would answer almost every time.

“He did a good job,” Westerberg said. “We just got behind too far and when you do it’s hard to come back from.”

The second quarter played a big role in the Eagles demise as they only gained one yard of offense for a majority of it before Kaopua’s last score of the half came in the waning seconds.

“We turned the ball over on the punt, dropped a pass on a fourth and five – we get the ball stripped – and that’s it,” Westerberg said. 

Kaopua scored on first half touchdown runs of one, four and 11 yards and most were set up by big plays including his own 57-yard run and a 62 pass play with Cauley.

Manvel answered the first two Barbers Hill scores with dual, 72-yard touchdowns – one via Eaglin run and another on a touchdown pass – to take momentum back only moments later.

Eaglin then essentially cemented the outcome with a 67-yard touchdown run with 1:29 before halftime.

“They wanted it more than us and we didn’t respond they way we wanted to,” Barbers Hill linebacker Cavin Branin said. “It showed itself on the scoreboard.

Kaopua added a 63-yard scoring run in the third quarter and backup quarterback Brent Holdren took one run in from 24 yards with 3:01 left in the game to account for the Eagles scoring.

The defeat sends the Eagles into the offseason and his Westerberg’s first senior class he’s had for a full four years into their futures, but not before having set the tone for the program.

“Those are the guys who bought in for four years and put us in the district championship and three rounds deep would hadn’t happened at Barbers Hill for a long time,” Westerberg said. 

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