METAMORA — Metamora got big plays when it needed and beat Pekin 44-34 on Friday night, denying the Dragons of a potential playoff appearance.

Metamora (3-5, 3-3) put away the Mid-Illini Conference victory Friday when Chris Leanos' 13-yard touchdown run capped a 4-minute, 45-second drive and put the game on ice.

“We got the guys in the right spot," Metamora coach Pat Ryan said, "and finally made a play when we needed it."

Each team traded scores on the first seven possessions of the second half. Metamora running back Ethan Hodel started it off with an 80-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. His second touchdown run was a 19-yard run, which was set up by senior Michael Blough’s 80-yard kickoff return.

“We’re better on offense when we have the ability to run,” said Ryan. “When we don’t have the running game to go with it, it puts a lot of pressure on (quarterback) Thomas (Hall).”

Pekin (3-5, 2-4) climbed out of a 10-0 hole in the final 4:06 of the first half with touchdown passes from Quinn Theleritis to Brad Johnson. The Dragons led 13-10 at halftime.

In the second half, as teams were trading scores, Theleritis had three touchdown runs — twice from 1 yard out and a 5-yard run.

“He’s our quarterback, and that’s the expectation of a Pekin quarterback,” Pekin coach Doug Nutter said. “They’ve got to be leaders and lead our offense and make the big plays when we need to make big plays.”

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Metamora took the lead for good when Hall found John Gatton wide open for a 35-yard touchdown pass off of a run-pass option play. Hall faked a handoff to the running back at the last second as he saw Gatton was wide open behind the defense.

“We worked on that a little bit in the Canton game,” Hall said. “It was something we had in our back pocket and it was something we pulled out just for the situation.”

Hall finished the game with 186 yards of total offense (147 passing, 39 rushing) and three total touchdowns. He had two big runs to convert on fourth down on their two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter.

“There were some reads that were open,” said Hall after crediting the offensive line.

Aaron Ferguson can be reached at 686-3207 or aferguson@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @Sports_Aaron.