Fulton head coach Pat Kelley wasn't wild about the six penalties for 53 yards that his Hornets racked up Friday night against the Versailles Tigers.
"We probably left a few touchdowns out there, just killing ourselves, and in tight games that'll kill us," Kelley said.
Fortunately, it wasn't a close contest.
Fulton triumphed in the trenches, prevailed on the perimeter and dominated defensively en route to a 43-6 thrashing of Versailles in the Hornets' home opener at Robert E. Fisher Stadium.
Fulton senior quarterback Sam Christensen connected with senior wide receiver Devin Gibson for three touchdowns, senior running back Dominique Ford ran for two scores and the Hornets' defense forced three turnovers and held Versailles to 161 yards of offense.
"We did a lot of good things. ... What I told them is that it's one win, it's early in the season and you have to continue to improve," Kelley said.
Fulton (1-1) took over at its own 6-yard line after forcing the Tigers to punt on the game's opening possession. Five run plays later, the Hornets were at the Versailles' 32 before a holding call forced them into a second-and-19 from the Tigers' 43. Fulton punted two plays later.
Versailles put together a 10-play drive on its ensuing possession, but then senior running back Johnathan Cunningham gained 13 yards on a fake punt on a fourth-and-21 and the Hornets took over on downs.
Christensen - making his season debut - made the Tigers pay one play later, hitting a wide-open Gibson in stride for a 47-yard scoring toss to put the Hornets up 7-0 with 4 minutes, 10 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Hornets - victims of the big play in last week's 41-14 loss at School of the Osage - put together another one-play scoring drive in the second quarter. On Fulton's first offensive snap of the period, Ford came in motion from the slot and darted 57 yards around the right side for a touchdown to increase the Hornets' lead with 10:46 left in the first half.
Ford added a 4-yard touchdown in the third quarter and finished with 72 yards on seven carries.
"Domo has made himself a much better football player and has worked harder than anybody has all summer to make himself a better player," Kelley said. "And we have a lot of guys who work hard, don't get me wrong, but as far as someone who kind of had a point to prove to get better, he did that and it's showing off because he's getting touches and doing nice things with the football."
Fulton junior middle linebacker Kobe Kaminski halted the Tigers' next drive in the second quarter, intercepting senior quarterback Michael Allen's pass and returning it to Versailles' 46 to set up the Hornets' next score three plays later.
Fulton junior running back Travis Dean took an option pitch 27 yards into the end zone to extend Fulton's lead to 20-0 with 6:01 to go.
The Hornets took nine plays and used nearly 3 minutes of clock with their next possession, but a touchdown was again the end result. Gibson, once again, found the end zone on a 10-yard screen pass from Christensen with :32.8 remaining.
The pair hooked up once more on a 19-yard touchdown pass with 10:10 to play in the third quarter. Gibson registered 100 yards on four catches, while Christensen completed 7-of-12 passes for 153 yards.
"You get guys in space and you're able to block and give the quarterback time, you can do a lot of things and we were able to do that tonight," Kelley said.
The Fulton defense concluded the first half with some scoring of its own. The Tigers' snap on a punt attempt sailed over the kicker's head and the Hornets' rush forced the punter to kick the ball out of the back of the end zone for a safety to make it 30-0 at the break.
After playing well in spots against Osage, the Fulton defense was consistently stout against Versailles. The Hornets gave up just the one touchdown, a 7-yard score by Tigers junior running back Dalton Schmidt with 5:26 left in the game
"We went to the ball better, we made better reads and as each week goes and you get more formal and familiar," Kelley said. "... All those things help you play faster and we definitely played faster tonight."
Fulton finished with 420 yards of offense, including 264 coming from the Hornets' 30 total carries. Dean ran for a game-high 111 yards on eight carries, while Christensen totalled 81 yards on eight rushes.
Fulton plays at Missouri Military Academy this week. The Colonels fell in their season opener at Van-Far 22-6 on Friday night.