The 6th-ranked football Spartans produced nearly 400 total yards of offense while scoring 24 unanswered points Friday, and Moberly would return home with a 24-6 triumph over Class 4 District 6 opponent Marshall in North Central Missouri Conference play.
The victory avenges Moberly’s overtime loss to the Owls during the first round of playoffs last season, and keeps the Spartans (6-0, 3-0 NCMC) undefeated while Marshall (1-4) drops to 1-2 in conference play.
“We came out and played very well early, but it seemed out intensity level dropped during the second and third quarters when we did not play very well. Our defense forced two fumble turnovers that resulted in us having a shorter field to work with and we scored. But after that, I did not think we played very well from that point on,” said Moberly football coach Jason Ambroson. “Defensively, we played alright. We gave up a lot of yards within the 30s but our defense kept them out of the end zone until very late in the game.”
Following a Marshall turnover, Moberly completed about a 43-yard drive when senior quarterback Justin Connaway scored his first of two rushing touchdowns with an 11-yard run.
With less than 4 minutes remaining in the first quarter, Connaway rolled out looking to pass but would tuck the ball under and run 23 yards for another score.
Gregg Bain nailed a 28-yard field goal in the second quarter and would also kick three PATs for the game. He also scored on an 8-yard touchdown run in the third quarter giving Moberly a 24-0 lead.
Ambroson said because of a 20 mph wind coming from the south it made the passing game difficult. Connaway only threw for 39 yards; his lowest of the season, completing 3-of-14 passes.
Bain led the Spartans rushing attack with 111 yards on 16 carries. Connaway ran for 62 yards and Dimaja Smith added 40.
“This was a game in which there were two teams playing slow. It ended up being an old fashioned heavy weight fight,” said Ambroson. “There wasn’t a lot of big plays or big runs. It was more of a grind-it-out, run between the tackles kind of football game. We punted the ball more in this game than we have in previous games, and in the second half we only snapped the football 15 times.”
Ambroson also said technical problems caused challenges in the method of play on the football field as well.
“Marshall mysteriously had no play clocks. They said they were not in working order, so we had to watch and wait on the game official to signal when the play clock would be winding down. In looking at all of that, it was difficult to tell time and that seemed to cause the tempo of the game to be slower than from the other games played,” said Ambroson.
Page 2 of 2 - Senior lineman Colton Tremain led the Spartans defense in total tackles with 14, including five being unassisted. Tremain also had one quarterback sack, two tackles that went for losses and he recovered both of Marshall’s fumbles.
Jeff Kinder finished with 12 tackles, with six of them solo and two went for a loss. Zack Koenig had nine total tackles, Blake Joiner had 10 (2 went for a loss) and Scott Mason was involved in eight tackles.
Coach Ambroson said Marshall’s touchdown drive that ended with less than 6 minutes left was aided by some questionable penalties called against the Spartans.
“I thought we should have shut them out, but there were penalties called against us that I question. There was a phantom facemask penalty that gave them a first down to keep their drive going. After looking at game film, I still could not see where that one came from,” Ambroson said. “There was a holding penalty called that resulted in another first down for them. There was a time when we made a tackle that went for about a 5-yard loss but it was marked only as a 1-yard loss and that helped Marshall to keep going too.”
Devon Cott of Marshall ended up running the football in from the 3 for the game’s final score. He finished the evening rushing for 137 yards on 34 carries.
Moberly plays at home Oct. 11 against 10th-ranked Hannibal (5-1, 4-0 NCMC).
The Pirates nearly doubled up Fulton last Friday winning 61-32 behind the 320 rushing yards provided by Hannibal senior running back Mitch Nichols.