|Posted August 29, 2009|
ThunderWolves emerge victorious in wacky opener
CSU-Pueblo 28, Eastern New Mexico 23
Lightning delays. Power outages. An NCAA record for pass attempts by the opposing quarterback. It's all good for CSU-Pueblo, because on a night of utter weirdness, the Pack emerged victorious, winning 28-23 over Eastern New Mexico.
In a four hour, 13 minute marathon of a game, complete with a lightning/rain delay of an hour and 45 minutes and a campus-wide power outage five minutes before kickoff, CSU-Pueblo did something it hadn't done in its short history after restarting its program in 2008 - win a shootout.
Both teams combined for 917 yards, with the Pack's 402 yards its highest offensive output since the program returned to competition. The bulk of the Pack offense came from a running game as Jamaal Johnson (So., Fountain, Colo.), a cornerback in 2008 who switched to tailback, his high school position, this season, rumbed for 145 yards on 15 carries, including a 59-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, which put the Pack up by a 20-7 advantage at that point.
Pack quarterback Colin Clancy (Sr., Longmont, Colo.) shined in his first start for the ThunderWolves, going a healthy 18-for-31 for 175 yards and two touchdowns, both of which went to Augustine Agyei (Sr., Aurora, Colo.), whose only two pass receptions went for scores, netting 67 yards on the night. All told, Agyei accumulated 172 all purpose yards, which included 105 on kickoff returns.
But the Pack defense emerged as the star, albeit on a night where they gave up a total of 515 yards. Eastern New Mexico quarterback J.J. Harp's wild night - 45-for-78 for 513 yards, three touchdowns and five interceptions - set numerous records, including a mark for most pass attempts in a game, but the Pack employed a bend-but-don't-break defense that kept the Greyhounds largely in check. The Pack defense only allowed a grand total of two rushing yards by Eastern New Mexico, and made three huge stops in fourth down situations, but it was a stop that didn't show up in the box score that was the most important.
In a 2-and-3 from the CSU-Pueblo 18-yard-line with eight seconds remaining, Chase Vaughn (Sr., Aurora, Colo.) and Damon Schiele (RFr., Aurora, Colo.) sacked Harp on the game's final play, halting an Eastern New Mexico comeback attempt in a 28-23 ball game.
The Greyhounds' comeback attempt came after play resumed following the delay, which took place with 4 minutes remaining in the third quarter and CSU-Pueblo leading 28-16. Eastern New Mexico added a touchdown to make the game a one-score affair, but the Pack defense was able to make the stop when it counted.
"It wasn't pretty and it was close at the end, but we won the game and that's all that matters," CSU-Pueblo head coach John Wristen said. "I couldn't be prouder of our guys and the performance they put in. It was a crazy night and our guys played a heck of a game."
CSU-Pueblo's win puts them in an early three-way tie atop the RMAC standings with Chadron State and Fort Lewis. The Pack will take on NAIA powerhouse Northwestern Oklahoma next Saturday night as they look to start 2-0 for the second consecutive year.