PUEBLO, Colo. (September 5, 2015) - In its 2015 season opener, the NCAA Division II Defending National Champion and second-ranked Colorado State University-Pueblo football team took down Central Washington University 41-14 in convincing fashion at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl, Saturday.
The 2015 edition of the Pack defense didn't disappoint, as they were all over the field, forcing four turnovers, two fumbles and two interceptions. Morgan Fox (Sr., DE, Fountain, Colo.) led game in sacks, clawing his way for two, and finished with 3.5 tackles for loss (six total tackles).
Ben Estica (Sr., LB, Palm Beach, Fla.) was second on the team in tackles with seven, but had one of the interceptions that was returned for 51 yards and led to a touchdown.
The Pack's rushing attack led the way, as they ran for 298 yards as a team. Senior Cameron McDondle (RB, Littleton, Colo.) carried the load, as he earned 176 yards on 23 carries for three touchdowns. His brother, Bernard McDondle (So., RB, Littleton, Colo.) sprinted past the century mark as well, picking up 129 yards on 17 carries. Both brothers averaged more than 7.4 yards per attempt.
The last time a pair of Pack players rushed for more than 100 yards was Aug. 30, 2012. C. McDondle's three rushing scores tied a career-high he set as a freshman and marked his ninth career multi rushing touchdown game.
Malcolm Ruben (Sr., QB, Baytown, Colo.) totaled 113 yards in the air on 7-of-14 attempts, including one score on a 42 yard pass to Kieren Duncan (Sr., WR, Goodyear, Ariz.). Duncan closed the game with 80 yards on two receptions.
As a whole, CSU-Pueblo posted 411 yards of total offense. The Wildcats were held to under 300, tallying 290 yards even though they had eight more total plays (66-58.)
It didn't take long for the Pack to get on the board, as C. McDondle ran it in from a yard out to give CSU-Pueblo the 7-0 advantage with 11:43 remaining in the first frame. On the ensuing drive the Wildcats responded with points of their own off a 34 yard touchdown pass from Jake Nelson to Arthur Burns to even things up.
After both teams went scoreless to finish the opening quarter, the ThunderWolves got on the board quickly to open the second stanza off a Greg O'Donnell (Sr., K, Monument, Colo.) 23-yard field-goal to regain the lead 10-7 with 14:50 remaining on the game-clock.
With the momentum shifting in favor of the Pack, they jumped on a wave of it and unleashed 21 straight points to pull away going into intermission. After fininishing third in the nation in blocked punts last season, the special teams unit jumpstarted the run when Samuel Singleton (Jr., LB, Denver, Colo.) blocked a punt and was returned 19 yards for a touchdown by Zach Young (R-Fr., DB, Colorado Springs, Colo.) to go up 17-7.
The defense continued to make their presence felt the following possession, as they forced a fumble inside the 40 yard line that quickly led to C. McDondle's second rushing score of the match, to go up 24-7 with 8:55 left in the period.
To close the out the half the ThunderWolves defense stood tall again to give the offense one last drive with 1:42. Starting at the 33 yard-line, thanks to a Fox forced and recovered fumble, the Pack drove down the field with a vengeance and 1:05 later, Ruben hit Duncan for 38 yards to go into break with a 31-7 advantage.
Out of intermission, CSU-Pueblo scored 3:23 into the period to extend their scoring run to 31-0 over the Wildcats. Later in the quarter, Nelson hit Kent McKinney for 42 yards to cut into the deficit, trailing 38-14, but that would be their final points for the game for the road team.
O'Donnell, three seconds into the fourth quarter, hit his second field-goal of the game, this time from 19 yards out, to push the lead 41-14, which went on to be the final score.
Up next for the Pack hit the road against a familiar out of conference foe in West Texas A&M University, who they beat 35-6 in last year's opener and are 4-1 against in the last four years.
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As a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Colorado State University – Pueblo competes in 22 varsity sports in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics.