GOLDEN, Colo. (GoThunderWolves.com - Oct. 9, 2010) - In what was almost another gripping win for the ThunderWolves, a game-saving drive and well-timed offsides penalty on CSU-Pueblo in the closing seconds was enough to lift Colorado School of Mines over the Pack - and the lead in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference - as the ThunderWolves fell 19-16.
Facing a 4th-and-goal from the ThunderWolf eight-yard-line with 34 seconds remaining and a 16-12 lead, CSU-Pueblo seemingly stopped a desperation try for the end zone by the Orediggers. But an offsides penalty on the ThunderWolves delivered another chance for Mines, who made the most about of their reprieve, as quarterback Clay Garcia delivered his second touchdown of the day to Jerrod Doucet, leaving the Pack without much time to stage a last-ditch comeback.
It undid what would have been an amazing win for the Pack, who put up countless big plays, especially on the defense, in the seesaw affair.
In the first half, facing the highest-octane offense in the RMAC, CSU-Pueblo picked off two passes in the end zone and blocked a field goal attempt in the first half, balancing out Mines' tenacious defense which held the Pack all afternoon, giving CSU-Pueblo a 3-0 halftime lead.
After Mines took a 6-3 lead on a goal-line touchdown dive in the third quarter, the Pack matched it, going for it on 4th-and-goal at the one-yard-line and hitting paydirt, as quarterback Ross Dausin (So., San Antonio, Tex.) ran in a score on a quarterback keeper to take a 10-6 lead.
Mines then one-upped the ThunderWolves with a 41-yard pass from Garcia to Doucet with 5:55 remaining, giving the Orediggers a 12-10 lead.
But CSU-Pueblo, which had trouble moving the ball most of the afternoon, cruised on the ensuing drive, connecting on a touchdown toss from Dausin to Golden-native, Koby Wittek (Jr., Golden, Colo.) to deliver a 16-12 lead with 3:40 left.
But after Mines' big plays on the ensuing drive which led to the eventual touchdown, CSU-Pueblo simply ran out of time.
Not even the big leg of kicker Kyle Major (Jr., Littleton, Colo.) could save the Pack, who tried booting a 64-yard field goal in the closing seconds on a drive that could have very easily turned into at least a tying score if the Pack had more than 30 seconds to work with.
The loss, while stinging, was put in perspective by Pack head coach, John Wristen.
"They made the big plays when they had to and took advantage of the opportunities they had," Wristen said. "I'm proud of our guys and the fight they put in, but we just couldn't stop them when we needed to."
With the loss, CSU-Pueblo effectively falls from first place in the RMAC to third place with a 5-1 record and 3-1 mark in conference play, behind both Mines and Nebraska-Kearney, which are both 5-1 and 4-0 in RMAC play after Saturday's games. Kearney defeated Chadron State 35-28 Saturday.
The Pack will get its opportunity to make things right next Saturday, when Kearney comes to Pueblo for a showdown that potentially puts the RMAC lead at stake.