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Indians denied answer: Stops give Eagles edge, No. 1 seed in district

Eagles 40, Indians 35

PORT NECHES — The Port Neches-Groves Indians and Barbers Hill Eagles made it an offensive contest, with nearly all possessions ending in touchdowns Friday night.

Barbers Hill ultimately came out on top and remained undefeated in district play, beating PNG 40-35 for at least a share of the District 12-5A Division II championship.

PNG teammates celebrate a touchdown catch by Kaleb Wuenschel (9) against Barbers Hill on Friday in Port Neches. (I.C. Murrell/The News) 11-1-19

The Indians and the Eagles exchanged scoring drives throughout the first half, as six of the eight series ended in touchdowns. The Indians got things started with a 70-yard drive that ended with a 6-yard run by quarterback Blake Bost for the first touchdown, despite suffering several losses from three sacks.

The Eagles responded with their own 60-yard drive finishing with quarterback Christian Kaopua connecting with Cameron Cauley on a 20-yard pass for their own first touchdown.

The Indians and Eagles scored again on both of their next possessions. From the 10-yard line, Bost handed the ball to Kaleb Wuenschel, who passed to Ryan Sosa for the touchdown. The Eagles, likewise, responded again with a 4-yard run by Kaopua for a touchdown at the end of a 66-yard drive with 7:09 left in the second quarter.

Both teams were flagged for personal fouls that brought the Indians from 1 yard away from scoring to the Eagles’ 16, then back half the distance to the goal to the 8. Wuenschel caught an 8-yard pass for the third PNG score.

Barbers Hill had its turn to score again with 1:56 left in the half from a 3-yard run by Kaopua, but the Eagles’ prospects were threatened when Alvaro Garcia failed to make the extra point.

PNG’s lead didn’t last long. Their first stopped drive ended when Tate Sandell, attempting to punt, lost control of the ball while in his own end zone. Barbers Hill recovered to take the lead for the first time 27-20 as the half ended.

Barbers Hill players signal fumble recovery on a bad snap in Port Neches-Groves punt formation late in the first half Friday in Port Neches. (I.C. Murrell/The News) 11-1-19

The teams again exchanged touchdowns in the beginning of the second half. Barbers Hill scored off a 58-yard drive of the second half. Kaopua ran in the final 11 yards to make the score 33-21 without the extra point.

PNG came back with a 68-yard drive ended by a 21-yard TD pass to Zane Hernandez. The Indians tried to recover an onside kick but the ball didn’t travel far enough, putting Barbers Hill in great field position at the Indians’ 42. A 30-yard pass to Cauley from Kaopua brought the score to 40-28 with 1:22 left in the third quarter.

PNG brought the game within its grasp, trailing 40-35 in the fourth after a 78-yard drive that ended on an easy 2-yard touchdown pass to Brady Nail.

PNG was only one possession away from taking the lead again with 8:25 left in the fourth quarter, and the Indians had extraordinary opportunities to do so. On a Barbers Hill possession at the Indians’ 13, the PNG defense forced Kaopua to fumble and linebacker Donovan Bergeron recovered to take possession with 2:22 left. The Indians made it down to the Eagles’ 47, only to be intercepted by defensive back Ashton Hamby. The Eagles took the remaining 1:53 to run out the clock.

The Game Changed When …

Bergeron recovered a fumble, giving the Indians their last chance to make up the five-point difference and win the game. The game changed again after Bost’s pass was intercepted by Hamby, and Barbers Hill took their hard-fought victory.

The Game Ball Goes to …

Bergeron for making the important play at the 11th hour.

Up Next …

Madness will descend upon Mid-County as PNG and Nederland (4-4, 4-1 before Friday’s game against Crosby) end their regular seasons fighting for the Bum Phillips Bowl Trophy with their annual rivalry game at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 8 at Bulldog Stadium.

Barbers Hill will end its regular season at Santa Fe (1-7, 0-5 before Friday’s game against Dayton) at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8.

 

Eagles 40, Indians 35

Barbers Hill  7  20 13 0 — 40

PNG 7 14  7 7 — 35

First quarter

PNG – Bost 6 run (Sandell kick), 6:26

Barbers Hill – Cauley 20 pass from Kaopua (Garcia kick), 3:18

Second quarter

PNG – Sosa 10 pass from Wuenschel (Sandell kick), 10:45

Barbers Hill – Kaopua 4 run (Garcia kick), 7:09

PNG – Wuenschel 8 pass from Bost (Sandell kick), 4:35

Barbers Hill – Kaopua 3 run (kick failed), 1:56

Barbers Hill – fumble recovery in end zone (Garcia kick), 1:18

Third quarter

Barbers Hill – Kaopua 11 run (kick failed) 8:13

PNG – Hernandez 21 run (Sandell kick) 3:00

Barbers Hill – Cauley 30 pass from Kaopua (Garcia kick) 1:22

Fourth quarter

PNG – Nail 2 pass from Bost (Sandell kick): 8:25

 

                         BH—PNG

Rushes-yards 41-236—28-91

Passing yards 93—195

Total yards      324—286

Comp-Att-Int 8-9-0—23-36-1

Fumbles-lost  1-1—1-1

Penalties-yards 7-53—7-70

 

Individual statistics

RUSHING — Barbers Hill: Kaopua 19-117; Betz 4-24; Hagler 16-89; Gibbs 2-6. PNG: Bost 19-47; Trahan 2-11; Hernandez 7-33.

PASSING — Barbers Hill: Kaopua 8-9-0—93. PNG: Bost 22-35-1—185; Wuenschel 1-1-0—10.

RECEIVING — Barbers Hill: Cauley 4-54; Barrios 3-31; Eugene 1-2. PNG: Nail 8-65; Wuenschel 5-58; Proenza 4-57; Hernandez 5-45; Sosa 1-10.