Unfortunately for the Indians, part of the fight was trying to overcome some of their own miscues as five turnovers helped the Spartans walk away with a 17-7 win.
School of the Osage put up a fight Friday night in its home opener with Moberly.
Unfortunately for the Indians, part of that fight was trying to overcome some of their own miscues as five turnovers helped the Spartans walk away with a 17-7 win. Despite those five turnovers, the Osage defense mostly held firm giving up just 10 offensive points and it allowed the Indians the opportunity to claw back into the game. Ultimately, the turnovers eventually took their toll.
“In the first half we ran 35 offensive plays and they ran 22 so if you just take that number you’re thinking things are going well for us and we were down 17-0,” Osage coach Devin Johnson said after the game.
“Offensively, we gave them five extra possessions and you just can’t do that and win many games.”
Moberly chipped in a 20-yard field goal on its opening drive of the game after moving the ball 67 yards to the Osage 4-yard line. A 47-yard run on 3rd-and-9 put the Spartans on the Indian 10-yard line before Osage held its ground.
Moberly’s final offensive score of the night came on its second possession of the game as the Spartans drove 77 yards, converting a 3rd-and-11 and 3rd-and-5 before a 34-yard dash to the end zone put the visitors up 10-0 with 7:35 left before halftime.
“That was it, that was all we gave up defensively,” Johnson noted. “I thought our defense played very well except those two third down plays. They are big moments and we just have to find a way to win those moments.”
Osage’s offense had a few sparks in the first half. The Indians pushed the ball 37 yards on their opening drive before turning the ball over on downs on a 4th-and-5 at the Moberly 29-yard line and found themselves in Spartan territory again on the next possession before stalling at the Spartan 40-yard line.
Then the turnovers came into play.
Osage’s next possession included a pair of strikes from senior quarterback Drew Edwards to senior wideout Logan Havner that went for 25 yards and 24 yards respectively before a Moberly interception was returned about 80 yards to the house to give the Spartans a comfortable 17-0 lead before the break.
After forcing Moberly to go three-and-out on the opening drive of the second half, Osage’s first possession resulted in a fumble from senior running back James Hutchcraft on the Indian 26-yard line. The Spartans gave it right back, though, and lost four yards on the offensive series that ended with a turnover-on-downs.
Osage sophomore quarterback Brockton McLaughlin got a few snaps on the next series and initially seemed to find a receiver on a deep throw down the middle of the field, but the ball bounced between the hands of two different Indian receivers before finding its way into the hands of a Moberly defender for the third turnover of the night. McLaughlin went on to convert a 4th-and-5 scramble on the next possession before the Spartans picked off another errant throw at their own 29-yard line.
“When you throw an interception obviously you are thinking maybe that was not the right play call and we put them in the wrong spot,” Johnson said of the miscues. ‘We’ll have to go back on film and kind of really look at exactly what happened on those.”
The coach noted that the game plan was to make the offense a little more versatile with the passing game and improve in that area from last season. Johnson remains confident in the young sophomore’s abilities.
“He throws the ball very well so we just wanted him to get out there and sling it around a little bit. He was a little rusty and I thought he actually threw the ball very well,” the coach remarked after McLaughlin finished 4-11 for 68 yards. “We’ll have to look at some of the spots he put it, but it is probably play calling more than anything making sure our guys are in the right spots.”
Despite the frustrating series of events, the offense was provided a spark when senior defensive back Jack Dulle forced a Moberly fumble on his own 42-yard line. Moments later after the Indians recovered, Edwards dumped the ball off to Dulle and the running back took it 39 yards to the end zone to cut the gap to 17-7.
Unfortunately, Osage’s final two possessions came up empty. The first resulted in a turnover-on-downs at the Moberly 49 when an Edwards pass brushed the finger tips of senior wideout Matthew Hans and the second ended at the Moberly 10 on a Havner fumble after the senior had previously just pulled in a 35-yard lob a few plays before. Johnson was still impressed by the senior who had several big catches on the night as he finished with nine receptions for 144 yards to lead the receiving corps.
“He has really progressed from a couple of years ago to where he is now. He is a big tall receiver for us and is kind of a ‘jump ball’ guy,” the coach said of the 6-foot-4 Havner. “What he does a really tremendous job of is putting his body in the right position to where he is between the ball and defender. He does not out-jump you, but he really does a good job of spatial awareness of where he is in relation to the field and defense.
“There were a couple of balls there he maybe should not have come down with, but was able to plant his foot in the ground and go get. He has been a big part of our offense.”
Through all of that, Moberly never made it past Osage’s 24-yard line until the end of the game with the clock winding down the final few seconds. Johnson commended his defense’s ability to control the line of scrimmage and force what he described as a downhill power running team in Moberly to make adjustments and bounce around looking for holes with no clear easy running lanes.
“Our defense played really well last week too so I thought they carried over the same momentum,” the coach said after his team gave up just six points to Fulton in the season opener. “It is really unfortunate because our guys played very hard. We just did not execute on two or three pays that we needed to and that is the difference in a game like tonight. It is minuscule and really kind of amazing how much of a difference it makes.”
One man who was a constant force for the Indian defense was Hutchcraft at linebacker as he made several stops in the backfield.
“James has done a great job on both sides of the ball this year and I don’t know how many tackles he had tonight, but I know he led the team last week and probably did again tonight,” Johnson said of the senior who also led the team in rushing with 13 carries for 70 yards while catching a 15-yard pass.
Edwards completed 12 of his 23 passes for 168 yards and Dulle hauled in four receptions for 59 yards in addition to his 20 rushing yards on five carries. Overall, the team finished with 336 yards of offense on the night.
Osage (1-1) will look to sharpen things up for the Tri-County Conference opener against California next week. Johnson said it is like a brand new season with conference teams vying for bragging rights and a tough opponents will be lined up across from his side each week. The Pintos will be no different when they come to town Friday night at 7 p.m.
“California has got a new head coach and their offense is pretty similar to ours,” he said. “They changed it up a little bit defensively, they are a 3-4 team… We know they have some pretty good athletes and are really looking to turn around over there.”