Undefeated no more: Morton football knocks off Metamora to reset Mid-Illini race

Dave Eminian
Journal Star

MORTON — Seth Glatz was too much for Metamora to overcome in a key Mid-Illini Conference football game Friday.

And that was just his defensive play.

The Morton star running back made several big stops on defense to frustrate the undefeated Redbirds, then turned in another offensive powerhouse game to lead Morton to a 40-30 upset at Carper Field.

"Glatz is not just a running back, he's a real football player," Morton coach Tim Brilley said. "This was his best defensive game."

And it was business as usual on the offensive side, as the 5-foot-11, 190-pound senior ran 32 times for 267 yards and four touchdowns. 

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In a game full of momentum haymakers, Metamora was trying to keep a drive alive at the outset of the fourth quarter, down 33-22. Facing fourth-and-1 at the Morton 29, Metamora quarterback Connor Willerton was stuffed by Glatz on a keeper for a 6-yard loss.

Morton's ensuing possession ended in a punt — which big Metamora defensive end Ben Wallace blocked and recovered at the 34 with 7:47 left.

Morton's Seth Glatz (20) maneuvers through the Metamora defense in the second half Friday, Oct. 1, 2021 in Morton.

Glatz stuffed Willerton again for a loss of 3 yards, then seven plays later, at the Morton 18, stopped him for no gain.

On the next play, Willerton scrambled, took a hit and fumbled.

Glatz delivered the dagger four plays later with a 21-yard TD run for 40-22 with 3:04 left.

"This was one of my best defensive games," said Glatz, of his defensive back role. "The whole team stepped up. We knew we were better than we played last week. The second possession of the game, when they fumbled, we felt the momentum turn right there."

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That was Metamora 220-pound running back Ethan Petri, who ran 17 times for 74 yards in the early minutes to give Metamora an 8-0 lead. But the key Redbirds player fumbled on the second drive, and on the third one he went down at the Morton sideline, clutching his right knee with 11:51 left in the second quarter. 

Petri could put no weight on it as he was helped, slowly and painfully, across the width of the field to the bench, where he spent the night with crutches and an ice pack. 

Metamora's Ethan Petri sits on the bench with a crutch and an ice bag on his right knee after sustaining an injury against Metamora in the first half Friday, Oct. 1, 2021 in Morton.

"We'll wait for doctors to look at him and see the extent of it," Metamora coach Jared Grebner said. "We're not going to speculate. We have our fingers crossed. He's so important for us. It shifted the momentum for sure, but give credit to Morton, they did a great job on us."

Metamora was forced to punt on three consecutive possessions in the second quarter.

Glatz ran for touchdowns of 7 and 2 yards to give Morton a 12-8 lead, with Petri's fumble sandwiched in between.

The Redbirds answered with a 33-yard keeper from Willerton (71 yards rushing, 172 passing) to extend a drive, then a 1-yard TD run from Garrett Taylor for a 16-12 lead with 9:03 left in the second quarter.

But another momentum-turning moment arrived two plays later when Glatz raced 64 yards up the middle for a TD and 19-16 lead with 8:17 left in the half.

Morton rolled to a 26-16 lead when quarterback Layne Kaufman faked a handoff to Glatz at the line and blasted 51 yards up the middle on a keeper for a touchdown with 4:56 left.

Then, another haymaker. Morton junior receiver Connor Hines took the opening kickoff of the second half 88 yards down the Potters sideline for a touchdown and 33-16 lead.

"I couldn't have done that without the blocking I had," Hines said. "I'm just glad it helped us win."

And just like that, the Mid-Illini race is up for grabs, as Metamora slipped to 5-1 overall and 3-1 in conference play. Morton improved to 4-2 and 3-1. Metamora, Morton and Washington are all tied atop the conference, with Canton, Dunlap and Pekin sitting at 2-2.

When it was over, the Morton students, cheerleaders, band members, all raced onto Carper Field and surrounded the Morton team in celebration.

"Our goal is to win the conference," Brilley said. "We have to take care of our own business now."

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Across the field, Metamora huddled, then streamed toward its buses. The Redbirds started a gauntlet on their schedule last week, with Dunlap, Morton, Pekin and Washington all lined up to face them. They have split the first two.

"They have some offensive weapons and they got chances, we had some turnovers that created momentum shifts," Grebner said. "I think our kids will respond well to what comes next. I have confidence they will."

Dave Eminian is the Journal Star sports columnist, and covers Bradley men's basketball, the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. Reach him at 686-3206 or deminian@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.