No. 10 ThunderWolves travel to Adams State for RMAC contest Saturday

PUEBLO, Colo. (October 1, 2015) – The No. 10 Colorado State University-Pueblo football team hits the road Oct. 3 for a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference battle with Adams State University. The game serves as the Adams State homecoming game and is set to kickoff at 1 p.m.

CSU-PUEBLO GAME NOTES (PDF)
ADAMS STATE GAME NOTES

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SCOUTING THE PACK: The ThunderWolves used a defensive-oriented second half to stop the Western New Mexico attack in the 42-27 victory Sept. 26. After allowing 21 points in the second quarter, CSU-Pueblo's defense only allowed six points in the final two frames.

After both units went scoreless in the first stanza, both offenses unleashed 21 points on each other in the second quarter.

At halftime the ThunderWolves flipped the switch defensively and garnered a balance attack on both sides of the ball. To open the third frame, senior Kieren Duncan brought back the ensuing kickoff 47 yards and the ThunderWolves took the ball 53 yards down the field for a touchdown.

The Pack used another third quarter score to open a two touchdown lead and never looked back.

• The ThunderWolves allowed just 15 net rushing yards against the Mustangs, which is their best effort against the ground game since allowing nine to New Mexico Highlands Nov. 15, 2014.

• The Mustangs had been averaging 162.3 rushing yards per game. Marques Rodgers owned 144 yards per game on the ground. He totaled 47 on 16 carries (2.9 ypc).

• Senior Deontrae Cooper surpassed 100 yards receiving for the first time in his career, going for 103 yards on four receptions, including a career-long 75 reception for a touchdown. The touchdown marked his first since Sept. 22, 2012 and the first collegiate TD throw by redshirt-freshman AJ Thompson.

• Senior Cameron McDondle galloped for a season-high 193 yards on 24 carries and reached the back of the endzone three times, tying a career-best and marking the second time this season he has reached the painted area.

• Senior Morgan Fox caused havoc on the line of scrimmage, as he recorded three sacks. It's the fourth outing he's recorded multiple sacks and second straight with three sacks. He added six tackles and was named RMAC Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts.

• Junior Joseph Jones recorded a squad-best nine tackles.

• Junior Wesley Bennett recorded two blocked field goals, well sort of. He blocked a field goal attempt in the third, but a defensive penalty negated his effort. No worries, he blocked the next attempt as well.

SCOUTING THE GRIZZLIES: The Grizzlies are coming off a historic home victory against Western State. After trailing 42-6 in the second quarter, Adams State rattled off 36 unanswered points to force overtime at 42-42. Following two overtime sessions, the Grizzlies won 52-51 to secure the largest-ever comeback in NCAA Division II history. After coming off the bench in the second quarter, Auston Hillman accounted for 371 yards of total offense and six touchdowns. He completed 21-of-35 pass attempts for 284 yards and five touchdowns while running the ball 15 times for 87 net yards and a touchdown.    

• Timm Rosenbach is in his first season with Adams State.

• Saturday's game will be homecoming for the Grizzlies. In the last 10 seasons, ASU is 5-5 in homecoming games.

• ASU ranks sixth in the RMAC in scoring offense with 28.8 points per game, but is last in the league in scoring defense with 49.5 points allowed per game. 

PRESEASON ALL-RMAC: Adams State was tabbed to finish sixth in the RMAC Preseason Coaches' Poll.  

SERIES HISTORY VERSUS ASU: The ThunderWolves own a 19-10-2 all-time advantage against the Grizzlies in a series that dates back to 1938. The Pack have won six straight games against Adams State. CSU-Pueblo is 9-4-1 all-time on the road and have won the last three meetings in Alamosa. Last season at home both teams failed to score in the first half, as the Pack took the first lead with a touchdown six minutes into the second half. The Pack erased a 7-7 tie with 10 points in the fourth, capped by a one-yard run by Cameron McDondle with just under three minutes left, to win 17-7.    

* Complete series history on page 3

THE POLLS: CSU-Pueblo entered the 2015 season as the No. 2 team in both AFCA and D2Football.com preseason polls after finishing the 2014 season No. 1 in both publications' year-end poll. For the second week in a row the Pack rank No. 7 in the D2Football.com poll and No. 10 in the AFCA poll. 

• The ThunderWolves ranked in the top 10 nationally for a NCAA Division II-best 37 straight weeks from Oct. 17, 2011 (eighth) to Oct. 6, 2014 (second).

TEAM NOTES

• Since 2011, the ThunderWolves have won 51 games (51-5 record during that span). 

• The Pack have recorded 25 consecutive regular season home victories, dating back to a 66-0 win against New Mexico Highlands Oct. 30, 2010. CSU-Pueblo went 8-0 at home last season and since reinstating the program in 2008, the ThunderWolves are 37-9 at the ThunderBowl. 

• Two straight games last season (Nov. 15 and Nov. 29) the ThunderWolves posted scores in all three areas of the game. The Pack scored a touchdown in all facets against WT with an 80-yard touchdown run, two interceptions for scores and a 98-yard kick return for a touchdown.

• Head Coach John Wristen's earned his 70th win as head of the program Sept 19 against Western State. He is 71-17 in eight seasons at CSU-Pueblo.

• All five road games this season are located in a different state, Texas, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota and New Mexico. 

CSU-PUEBLO POSITION NOTABLES

OFFENSE

• Senior running back Cameron McDondle has rushed for more than 100 yards in 23 career games. He rushed for 176 yards and three touchdowns in the opener. The three scores tied a career high he set as a freshman. He totaled a season-high 193 yards and another three touchdowns against Western New Mexico. 

• With 724 yards he leads NCAA Division II, while his 181 rushing yards per game is second in the nation. With eight touchdowns on the ground he ranks fourth nationally, while his 7.24 yards per carry is good for 14th.   

• He is the school's all-time career rushing leader with 4,440 yards on the ground, which ranks fourth all-time in the RMAC history books. McDondle's 40 career rushing touchdowns is also a program record and ranks fifth all-time in the RMAC.

• Bernard McDondle rushed for 125 yards against Central Washington to combined with brother Cameron for 301 yards and mark the first time the Pack had two, 100-yard rushers in a game since 2012 against West Texas A&M (J.B. Mathews -153 and Chris Ashe - 105 ).

• The ThunderWolves scored on their opening drive 10 out of 15 games last season. Of those 10 opening-drive scores, eight were touchdowns and two were field goals. The Pack have continued that trend this season with two opening drive touchdowns.

• The Pack rank No. 33 nationally in sacks allowed, as the offensive line has only allowed five sacks for a loss of 40 yards.

• Seniors Deontrae Cooper and Kieren Duncan lead the reciving group this season, as both have brought in 11 receptions and one touchdown. Cooper owns 176 yards, while Duncan has totaled 168 yards. 

DEFENSE

• The Pack have been one of the most stingiest and unforgiving defenses in the nation the past four seasons. Since 2011, the ThunderWolves have ranked in the top 22 nationally each season in scoring defense, which includes leading the country in 2011 and 2014. CSU-Pueblo has also ranked in the top 21 in turnover ratio with the nation's best mark last season. 

• In 2015, the Pack defense has created seven turnovers and turned them into 38 points. Four different players have interceptions this year (two for Ben Estica) and the have totaled 93 return yards, two have brought the pick back for six (LaRon Tarkington, 25 yards and Samuel Singleton, 10 yards at WT). 

• The ThunderWolves are 36-3 since 2008 when they force three or more turnovers in a game. 

• The Pack totaled at least three sacks in 11 of 15 contests last season and have recorded three or more sacks in each of the first four games to start the 2015 campaign. The Pack have totalled 15 sacks this season to rank fifth nationally with 3.75 sacks per game.

• Defensive end Morgan Fox has 10 sacks this season to lead NCAA Division II. He is chasing former teammate Darius Allen for the program sack record. Fox has 29 in his career, while Allen capped his four-year career in 2014 with 34.5 career sacks.

• Fox also leads NCAA Division II in tackles for loss with 13, while the -57 lost yards is the nation's best. 

• CSU-Pueblo's rushing defense was established on game one of the program re-boot in 2008. The Pack allowed 13 yards rushing against Oklahoma Panhandle State (Sept. 8, 2008) and since have held their opponent to less than 50 yards rushing on 17 more occasions. The last occurred Saturday when Western New Mexico totaled 15 yards on the ground. Five times during that span the ThunderWolves allowed 10 or less rushing yards, with the record standing at -4 rushing yards at New Mexico Highlands Nov. 9, 2013.

• West Texas A&M running back Geremy Alridge-Mitchell rushed for three touchdowns against the Pack Sept. 12, marking the first time an opponent has recorded three touchdowns on the ground since Ed Goodlow did so for Central State, Sept. 8, 1984.

SPECIAL TEAMS   

• Senior Kieren Duncan's 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against West Texas A&M is the third longest in NCAA Division II so far this season and has helped the ThunderWolves sit No. 1 nationally in kickoff returns (43.3 yards per return).  

• Greg O'Donnell is 5-of-7 on field goal attempts and has converted on all 16 extra point attempts. 

• With five blocked punts, the special teams unit finished third nationally in the category in 2014. The Pack have blocked three kicks this season (punt and two field goals) and rank 12th nationally. The blocked punt was returned 19 yards to the end zone by Zach Young against Central Washington.

RMAC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Kieren Duncan (Sept. 14, Special Teams) - Duncan returned a kickoff 98 yards to the end zone to put the ThunderWolves within one at 31-30 with under two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter at West Texas A&M. On two kickoff returns he totaled 131 yards (65.5 yards per return average).

• Morgan Fox (Sept. 28, Defense) - Fox continued to rack up sacks Saturday, as he totaled three in the 42-27 home victory against Western New Mexico University. The three sacks resulted in the loss of 31 yards for the Mustangs. Fox totaled six tackles (four solo), three tackles for loss and added four quarterback hurries. Fox helped the Pack allow just 15 yards rushing in the game and only six points in the second half.

2015 RETURNERS

• The ThunderWolves (14-1 in 2014) return 16 starters from the 2014 NCAA Division II National Championship team, which includes six on a defensive unit that finished first in NCAA Division II in scoring defense (12.8 ppg) and passes intercepted (29) and tied for first in defensive touchdowns (7) and turnovers gained (43). CSU-Pueblo also finished first nationally in total sacks with 57. 

• The Pack offense returns four All-Americans.

• Senior running back Cameron McDondle, who set a ThunderWolves single-season record with 2,014 rushing yards to finish third nationally.  

• Four starters on the offensive line, a unit that ranked 26th nationally in least sacks allowed, return in 2015. 

• On special teams, senior place kicker Greg O'Donnell returns after he hit 21 field goals to tie for the second most in Division II last season.

#PackPros:CSU-Pueblo has two former players in the NFL in 2015. Ryan Jensen (2009-12) is in his third season with the Baltimore Ravens and Mike Pennel (2013) is in his second season with the Green Bay Packers. Pennel is starting and has six tackles (four solo) through three games on the defensive line, while Jensen has played in two of the three games on the offensive line for the Ravens.

THE STREAK:CSU-Pueblo posted three straight 11-0 seasons entering 2014 and was just one of two teams in NCAA Division II history to accomplish the feat. After starting 5-0 in 2014, the Pack owned 42 straight regular season victories, which was the second-longest in NCAA Division II history, behind only Grand Valley State, which posted 48 straight wins from 2004-09. The streak ended Oct. 11 in a 23-22 road loss at Fort Lewis.

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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.