What do you get when Missouri's sixth-ranked team in Class 4 meets a younger, less-experienced Class 3 program and puts the following ingredients together on the football field?
- 10 different players rushed with the football and there were 9 players who put points on the scoreboard.
- Offense racks up more than 430 total yards of offense.
- A 5-touchdown lead by halftime results in a running clock being used the entire second half.
-The varsity squad is on the sidelines at the start of the third quarter to cheer on the jayvee and freshmen units who are on the field for the remainder of the game.
- Defense comes away with 5 turnovers - with four of them leading to touchdowns being scored- and the unit puts up 8 points on the scoreboard. Also, the defense yields less than 190 total yards.
It's a Moberly Spartans recipe for a 58-7 victory against St. James Tigers here at Dr. Larry K. Noel Spartans Stadium.
"The bottom line here is we played against a very young football team tonight who we over-matched them in size, and we took care of things on our own like we needed to do. We got on the scoreboard early and often, and that kind of rattled the younger team a bit and then a few minutes before halftime their starting quarterback got hurt and did not play the rest of the game," said Moberly football coach Jason Ambroson. "Those things went against them (St. James) in this football game,"
"I give the St. James kids credit. They put up a good fight and they came right at us with all they had. They really played hard and put together a touchdown drive in the game."
Moberly (5-0) needed to successfully execute two separate fourth-down snaps during their first possession of the evening before the Spartans reached the end zone, but would not labor as so thereafter.
Senior quarterback Justin Connaway capped that 13-play, 58-yard drive with his 5-yard touchdown run with 7:12 left in the opening period.
The Spartans next two scores were jump started as a result of turnovers.
Dimaja Smith picked off a pass thrown by St. James sophomore quarterback Brett Karnes that led to a Gregg Bain 25-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage.
As he neared the goal line, the Spartans junior running back collided with St. James' Jamal Hawkins-Sconiers at the 4 and Bain bulldozed the senior defensive back, pushing him forward and dumped Hawkins-Sconiers after crossing the line.
On the Tigers' ensuing possession, Moberly's Chris Quinn stepped in front of a pass intended for Jake Money for his interception, and this turnover led to Smith running the football past the pylons from the 4.
"I thought we won the battle up front on both sides. Our defense really played well except for one St. James series when we did not tackle very well and they would score. For us to come away with five turnovers and us not turning the ball over was very good," said coach Ambroson. "Credit our line play for some big gains. I think our running backs did a nice job reading what was ahead of them and finding the holes to run through."
The Spartans took a 21-0 lead into the second quarter and their fourth touchdown of the evening also was a result of another St. James turnover. This time, Gage Esry picked off the pass at the Tigers' 32, and three plays later Connaway connected with Blake Joiner on a 6-yard touchdown pass.
St. James (3-2) of the Four Rivers Conference made sure their 130-mile journey north to play Moberly would not be a total loss.
The Tigers put together an impressive 18-play, 84-yard scoring drive against the Spartans. On a fourth-and-7 from the Moberly 21, quarterback Karnes dropped back to pass but found a wide seam on the left side and he tucked the ball under and ran untouched into the end zone for a touchdown at 3:32.
Moberly managed to put up two more touchdowns before intermission arrived.
About 2 minutes later Preston Riles caught a pass that resulted in a 3-yard score. St. James made a quick 3-and-out on its ensuing possession, and during this series Karnes left the game being treated in what appeared to be a left hand injury.
Sophomore Gage Melton assumed quarterback duties the rest of the evening, and on fourth down from the Tigers' 5 he dropped back to punt, but a bad snap resulted and Moberly's Blake Joiner fell on top of the football at 0:22 for a Spartans 42-7 halftime score.
During their two quarters of play; Bain ran for 62 yards and a score, Smith rushed for 30 yards and a score, Joiner went 21 yds. Dupree Alexander 15, Chris Palmer 11 and Connaway had a 5-yard TD run.
Connaway threw for 135 yards and two touchdowns completing 11 of 21 passes (3 were dropped from point blank range).
Joiner had six receptions that went for 57 yards and a touchdown. Scott Mason caught three passes netting 47. Alexander had a 28-yard reception, and Riles made a 3-yard TD catch.
To begin the second half, Moberly inserted its jayvee unit on both sides of the football and during the fourth quarter the freshman team was on the field as nearly every Spartan player in uniform saw action.
Before the evening ended, there were 10 different Spartans that carried the football.
"It was pretty nice for us to be able to get quite a few kids involved in the football game. We built a good enough lead which allowed us to play our second and third string units during the second half," said coach Ambroson. "Our younger guys work just as hard as our varsity guys do and they have to go up against them in practice, so it was nice seeing them have the chance to play a couple of quarters of football and be rewarded."
Among the highlights during the second half took place on back-to-back happenings.
On fourth down at their own 21-yard line, Noah Bartle of St. James punted the ball into the helmet of his teammate Melton, and the football ricocheted backwards. The two Tigers players along with three Spartans gave chase. Bartle landed on the ball just inches past the goal line and Moberly sophomore Logan Johnson pounced on him to record a safety.
Moberly received the ensuing kickoff, and with the first snap from scrimmage at the 46, Spartan varsity players on the sidelines went into a cheering frenzy.
Jayvee sophomore quarterback John Heimann faked a handoff to Colton Graham. The junior running back went right cloaking the ball in disguise and nearly the entire St. James defense went in the same direction.
Heimann hid the ball well behind him, and took off running to his left with nothing between him and paydirt. Heimann went 54-yards for the touchdown, then freshman Drake Gross came off the bench to kick his first of two PATs in the game.
The Spartans final score came from a Graham 35-yard gallop as he busted through two would-be tacklers.
Heimann rushed four times and netted 84 yards before freshman Drake Davidson replaced him at quarterback in the fourth quarter. Johnson rushed for 42 yards on six carries, while Gross added 31 rushing yards and Graham had 30.
For St. James Tigers, senior Jesse Hays ran 21 times for 83 yards. Karnes scrambled for 29 and Garrett Ubben gained 10 rushing yards.
Karnes completed 2 of 10 passes for 17 yards, and he threw thee interceptions. Melton went 4-for-8 for 32 passing yards.
The Spartans will march to Marshall to play the Owls in a North Central Missouri Conference battle come Oct. 4.
Last season Moberly defeated Marshall 41-12 in the regular season, but suffered a 17-14 loss in the first round of the state playoffs.