Although Mother Nature did not provide mud-soak challenges on the football playing field that Moberly persevered through with flying colors the previous two games, the Spartans weathered through other elements of the game Friday that nearly cost them.
And those elements involved valuing possession of the football even during an ideal environment with temperatures in the mid-to-upper 60s and little or no wind.
Moberly and Fulton equally split eight turnovers during their North Central Missouri Conference meeting in Week 4 and both schools ended up having two of its turnovers lead to points.
Fortunately for the Spartans, Moberly was also able to put together a pair of clean scoring drives that allowed the Spartans to return home with a 26-13 win and spoil the Hornets' homecoming festivities and a Fulton program in search of its first win.
"Giving Fulton the football four times, it doesn't feel like we won the turnover battle. Our team has done such a good job of handling the football and for us to turn it over like we did is just an atrocity. We cannot do that in a game any more and expect to pull out a win," said Spartans football coach Jason Ambroson. "We were fortunate that Fulton did the same thing. We gave Fulton some confidence in this game. and they took advantage of it. When we were good on the field, we were pretty good and moved the football. Our kids get credit for how they cleaned things up in the second half and bounced back and did enough things right to win this game. But when we were bad, we were really bad and got lucky."
"Give credit to Fulton. They had a nice game plan put together and their kids were fired up to play on their Homecoming night and all."
Moberly (3-1, 2-0 NCMC) moved the ball effectively and scored on its first two possessions taking a 12-0 lead after the opening period, while holding Fulton to a pair of 3-and-out offensive series and netting just 3 yards.
Four minutes of the game clock was eaten up when the Spartans marched 71 yards for their first score, a 10-yard touchdown run by senior Joe Galaske.
Moberly had a shorter field to work with the next time the offensive unit came onto the field at its 49.
Gregg Bain carried the four times for 30 yards during this series that was capped by a 4-yard pass from junior quarterback Justin Connaway to senior tight end Jalen Troy for a touchdown with 4:12 left.
It was in the second quarter when the turnover bug infected Moberly, and it happened three times.
With 3:43 remaining in the half Fulton senior defensive back Randall Cole intercepted Connaway's pass at the Hornets' 40. Once again the Spartans 'D' held steady, forcing the home team to punt after three snaps.
Page 2 of 3 - However, Moberly junior Blake Joiner could not handle the ball on the punt return and would fumble, with Fulton's Ryan Young falling on it at the Moberly 19.
Junior running back Kegan Lee would end up scoring on a 4-yard run with 1:01 left and Fulton cut its deficit to 12-7 with the extra point kick.
On it's ensuing possession, the Spartans were putting together a nice drive starting from its 35 and reaching the Fulton 22 when Connaway threw an interception right into the chest of Fulton's Noah Braun at the line of scrimmage when there were no Moberly jerseys around.
Braun returned his pick 78 yards for a touchdown with just 0:08 left giving the Hornets a 13-12 halftime lead.
Entering the game, Connaway had not been picked in 68 passing attempts this season, and after the game the Moberly signal caller said he was upset with himself with those two quick INTs against Fulton.
"We shot ourselves in the foot a few times tonight, but we're thankful we pulled out a win. We jumped on Fulton with two scores early and then let them come right back to take the lead on us by halftime. I don't think all of us took them (Fulton) serious coming in to this game because we knew they had been struggling this season. Hopefully we all learned something from this game that we cannot take any team lightly," said Moberly QB Justin Connaway. "I'm pretty upset with myself for throwing two interceptions. Both of them were pretty poor passes on my part with one of them being returned for a touchdown for Fulton."
Connaway threw for 168 yards completing 13-of-26 passes and a score, and he threw a couple of interceptions.
Connaway would be Moberly's leading rusher with 83 yards on 10 carries, including a 5-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
"I like the opportunity to run the football. Some of the plays tonight were designed for me to run while others were reads I had and just took off running the football instead of throwing it," said Connaway. "Our line did a good job again. They provided good protection for me and I did not feel rushed in throwing the football. They made some good holes for me to take off and run, especially inside around (center) Jeff Kinder and (guard) Colton Tremain in this game."
Bain rushed 12 times for 77 yards and he had a 6-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to put Moberly on top for good making the score 18-13 with 6:31 left.
Fulton (0-4, 0-1 NCMC) received the football to open the second half and on its fourth snap Galaske intercepted a pass by Fulton junior QB Joe Schlemeier at the Moberly 30. The turnover led to Bain's 6-yard touchdown run.
The Spartans defensive unit ended up having three picks in the second half, with Bain and Joiner coming down with the other two interceptions.
Page 3 of 3 - In the fourth quarter when Joiner stepped in front of Schlemeier pass intended for receiver Cole for an interception,
Joiner advanced the football about 18 yards reaching the Moberly 45 with 7:25 left in the game.
The Hornets' turnover led to Moberly's 5-yard TD run by Connaway with 5:01 left, then Bain ran in the 2-pt. conversion.
Fulton quarterback Schlemeier completed 12-of-23 passes for 98 yards and three INTs.
Lee rushed 19 times for 83 yards to pace the Hornets' ground game.