Stand-in skipper, Moran led from the front and sparked his side's vital win with a try and a hand in three more.
But Wigan's desperate search for a return to winning ways after a four-match losing run met stern resistance from their bitter local rivals at Hilton Park.
Bottom of the table Leigh knew this was the best chance since the days of John Woods and Des Drummond to inflict their first win in 21 years over their old enemy.
Rudderless Wigan were fortunate to trail by only two points at the end of a frantic first half dominated in terms of possession and territory by the home side.
Leigh fashioned the opening try in only the fifth-minute as Mick Govin's inside pass was perfectly timed for the supporting John Wilshere to cut over, with Phil Jones kicking the first of three first-half goals.
Wigan, clearly rattled by their host's fervour and commitment, responded almost immediately with a scrambled Martin Aspinwall try in the corner after Dennis Moran's high kick. Aspinwall's effort ended a Wigan scoring drought stretching back an incredible 170 minutes.
Jones, a former Wigan player, kicked two penalties, both for Wigan indiscretion at the play-the-ball, to extend his side's lead to 10-4 and things might have got worse for Wigan.
Oliver Wilkes, the game's outstanding forward for his running on his return from injury, just failed to find the supporting Danny Halliwell after a defence-splitting break while Leigh joy turned to despair when Steve Maden dashed to the corner only to be recalled for a forward pass by John Duffy in the build-up.
Aspinwall sliced over for his second try after Stephen Wild had been sent hurtling into space by Terry Newton's artistry, but Wigan coach Ian Millward clearly expected better.
The tireless Moran gave Wigan the lead for the first time four minutes after the restart, with Danny Tickle adding the conversion and two further penalties before effectively deciding the issue with a 64th minute converted try from Moran's short pass. Newton then plunged over leaving late Leigh tries by Govin and Matt Sturm mere consolation for the home side.
Leigh: Wilshere; Maden, Halliwell, Jones, Jackson; Govin, Duffy; Fleary, Rowley, Stapleton, Wilkes, Leafa, Kent. Substitutes used: Stevens, Sturm, Marshall, Mears.
Wigan: Gleeson; Carney, Aspinwall, Vaealiki, Dallas; Allen, Moran; Hargreaves, Godwin, Seu Seu, Wild, Hansen, Botham. Substitutes used: Newton, Sculthorpe, Tickle, Coyle.
Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington)
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