Pekin is tied for first place in the Mid-Illini Conference football standings.
Canton’s stunning 35-29 double-overtime win Friday night over Metamora opened the door for a five-way tie at the top of the eight-team conference. Pekin, Canton, Metamora, Morton and Washington are all 2-1.
The Dragons (3-2, 2-1) did their part Friday with a 51-6 drubbing of East Peoria at EastSide Centre that was played with a running clock starting with 7:05 left in the third quarter.
Pekin dominated every phase of the game -- offense, defense and special teams.
“We did the basics. We blocked, tackled and protected the football. When you do that, you give yourself a great chance to win,” Dragons coach Doug Nutter said Saturday.
Pekin quarterback Mason Carr passed for two touchdowns and ran for two scores and Michael Dickey scored on a pair of TD runs, but it was Cody Hunt who had the most newsworthy touchdown for the Dragons.
Hunt, normally a two-way lineman, has been used as a blocking back on occasion this season. The 5-foot-10, 240-pound senior scored on the first carry of his career, bulling his way into the end zone from 5 yards out in the opening quarter.
“It was a new wrinkle we put in last week,” Nutter said. “We figured we’d give Cody the ball sooner or later.”
Hunt went back to his usual positions the rest of the game.
It was a long homecoming night for East Peoria (1-4, 0-3), which had only six first downs and 124 total yards. Pekin had 369 total yards including 239 on the ground.
“We were annihilated up front. Was I worried about that? Absolutely,” said Raiders coach Kevin Vedell.
Center Ryan Salazar was flanked by guard Ben Appel and Brody Haynes and tackles Damien Nelson and Dylan Dilkey on the Pekin offensive line. Nose guard Peter Nelson, tackles Hunt and Salazar and ends Brett Lutz and Skye Tiller were on the Pekin defensive front.
East Peoria was never able to establish its ground game.
“We did a good job for the most part on first-down plays offensively and defensively,” Nutter said. “That was pivotal.”
Two low snaps on punts that got away from punter Cole Morton also hurt East Peoria. Morton was tackled in the end zone for a safety by the Dragons’ Michael Pruitt and he got off a punt that went minus 5 yards after corralling the errant snaps.
Pekin’s special teams were special all night. Nathan Righi’s long and accurate kickoffs were covered well.
The Dragons led 23-0 after the first quarter and 37-6 at halftime.
Carr (11-of-15 passing for 130 yards, five carries for 75 yards) scored on runs of 1 and 37 yards and he threw a 54-yard touchdown pass to Julian Hill and a 15-yard scoring strike to Colton Reader. Dickey (eight carries, 83 yards) raced into the end zone from 20 and 45 yards out.
Nutter said Dickey ran hard and did a good job blocking. Dickey showed off his speed on his 45-yard TD run.
“Michael is almost as fast at Julian (Hill),” Nutter said.
East Peoria’s lone touchdown came on a 5-yard run by Quin Janssen (17 carries, 76 yards) with 6:36 to go in the second quarter that capped a 13-play, 81-yard drive.
The TD cut Pekin’s lead to 23-6. The Dragons scored on the fifth play of the ensuing possession when Carr hit Hill on a short pass and Hill spun away from several defenders before racing into the end zone with 5:11 left in the first half.
“We were hoping we’d get a stop there, score again and go into halftime with some momentum,” Vedell said. “Instead, we gave up that touchdown.”
It took Pekin just three offensive plays to get the running clock going in the third quarter. Dickey’s 45-yard scoring run came on the Dragons’ first play from scrimmage and Carr’s TD pass to a wide-open Reader was on the second play after the minus 5-yard punt.
“We challenged our guys at halftime to not be satisfied and they came through with two stops and two quick touchdowns,” Nutter said.
GAME NOTES: Pekin’s Andrew Krahn recovered an on-side kick attempt by East Peoria on the opening kickoff. ... A hit by Ian Stubblefield led to a fumble recovered by Stubblefield on East Peoria’s second play from scrimmage. ... An excellent downfield block by wide receiver Cameron Whitford helped clear the way for Carr on his 37-yard touchdown run. ... Righi was a perfect 7-for-7 on PATs. ... Pekin didn’t have a turnover. ... The Dragons have scored 124 points in three conference games.