PUEBLO, Colo. (October 15, 2015) – The No. 6 Colorado State University-Pueblo football team looks to stay undefeated in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play Saturday with a conference showdown at Chadron State College. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. at Elliott Field at Don Beebe Stadium.
SCOUTING THE PACK: The ThunderWolves defeated Fort Lewis 45-9 in a homecoming victory Saturday, avenging their only loss of 2014.
• After Bernard McDondle returned the opening kickoff 17 yards to the 30 yard-line, the Pack went for the knockout punch early, as AJ Thompson hit senior Kieren Duncan for a 70 yard catch and run touchdown pass on the first play from the line of scrimmage.
• Fort Lewis responded with a 14-play drive that ate up 8:22 on the clock and resulted in a field goal to cut the deficit 7-3 with 6:13 remaining in the first quarter.
• The ThunderWolves reacted with another quick score that began a 21-0 run, as Cameron McDondle helped ignite the next score with a 58 yard gallop to setup B. McDondle for a 17 yard dash to seal the touchdown and push the lead to 14-3 with 5:33 to go in the first stanza.
• The first half ended with the Pack leading 28-9. The ThunderWolves scored 17 in the third quarter and the defense did the rest for the lopsided victory.
• After allowing 162 yards of offense in the first half, the CSU-Pueblo defense only allowed the Skyhawks 59 yards of total offense in the second for 221 total yards in the game. In the first half, Fort Lewis accumulated 112 yards in the air and 50 on the ground, compared to the second, only giving up 31 yards passing and 28 yards rushing.
• As a unit, the ThunderWolves ran for 311 yards and four touchdowns, with the majority of them coming in the first half, trouncing for 205 yards. The McDondle brothers combined for 266 of the 311, C. McDondle tallied 152 and two touchdowns on 22 carries, while younger brother B. McDondle earned 114 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.
• B. McDondle's performance earned him his third 100 yard rushing game of the season. It was the second straight tilt he ran for two scores and third time this year both McDondle brothers ran for 100 or more yards in the same match. The ThunderWolves are 3-0 this season when the achievement is met.
• The Pack have outscored their opponents 105-9 in their last two games, 56-0 against Adams State University last week and 45-9 against the Skyhawks Saturday.
• CSU-Pueblo converted 8-of-13 (62%) third down attempts, while the Skyhawks were 2-of-15 (13%).
• Offense has reached 40 or more points in four of the six matches this season. On the flip side the ThunderWolves have allowed 10 or less points three times in 2015 and are 29-0 since 2008 when allowing 10 or less.
• Second straight week the ThunderWolves have rushed for 311 yards or more, as they totaled 386 last week against Adams State.
• The ThunderWolves improved to 8-0 in homecoming game since 2008 and are now 34-16 all-time versus Fort Lewis.
SCOUTING THE EAGLES: The Eagles have won two straight games and are 3-3 overall with a 2-2 RMAC record. Chadron State lost by eight and 10 points, respectfully, to RMAC leaders Colorado Mines and Colorado Mesa. The Eagles went on the road and downed Western State 31-24 before hosting Adams State for homecoming last weekend and blanking the Grizzlies 26-0. CSC held ASU to 10 first downs and the home team outgained the Grizzlies 499-176.
The Eagles are coached by Jay Long. He is in his fourth season as head coach and owns a 28-12 record at CSC. The Eagles have posted eight or more wins in his first three seasons, which includes a 9-3 record in 2012.
THE LEADERS: Linebacker Collin Eisenman was named RMAC Defensive Player of the Week Monday after he recorded six tackles, two sacks and forced a fumble. He ranks second in the league in sacks with 5.5. Linebacker Dylan Furrier is the tackles leader with 63 (27 solo). Derek Jackson is the team's rushing leader with 756 yards. Matt Vinson has started the last two games at quarterback. The sophomore is 46-of-76 for 491 yards and two touchdowns with just one interception. Danny O'Boyle leads the team with 28 receptions for 256 yards and a score.
IN THE RMAC: CSC leads the league in kickoff coverage with a net average of 43.5 yards. The Eagles also lead in time in possession with 32:58. Chadron State ranks fourth in scoring defense (20.5 ppg) and ranks seventh in scoring offense (23.8 ppg).
SERIES HISTORY VERSUS CSC: The ThunderWolves lost the first-ever meeting with the Eagles in 2008 by the score of 32-0. Since then the Pack are on a six-game winning streak, which includes a 3-0 mark in Chadron. All three of the road games have been decided by 11 points or less, as the ThunderWolves have won 28-17, 38-28 and 51-42. Last season at home, CSU-Pueblo defeated the Eagles 41-13 on homecoming.
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. The Pack rank No. 6 in both the D2Football.com poll and 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).
Since 2011, the ThunderWolves have won 53 games (53-5 record during that span).
The Pack have recorded 26 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.
In the last two wins, the ThunderWolves have outscored the opponent 101-9, AND
- Rushed for 697 yards, allowed 82 yards rushing
- Totaled 1,046 yards of offense, allowed 469 total yards
- Converted on 50% (13-of-26) of 3rd downs, allowed 26.5% (9-of-34)
- Recorded eight sacks, allowed three
- Own a +3 turnover margin
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.
The red zone has been good to the ThunderWolves on both sides of the ball, as the defense ranks ninth nationally by allowing the opponent to score 60 percent of the time. The Pack offense has scored on a 86.4 percent clip this season to sit 28th in Division II.
Head Coach John Wristen's earned his 70th win as head of the program Sept 19 against Western State. He is 72-17 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
Senior running back Cameron McDondle has rushed for more than 100 yards in 25 career games and after Oct. 3 has three 200 yard games. He ran for 203 yards and three touchdowns against Adams State, while his career best is 235 yards at Colorado Mines, Oct 13, 2012. He has three, three touchdown games this season and four in his career. His lowest rushing game this season is 152 yards.
With 1,079 yards he leads NCAA Division II, while his 179.8 rushing yards per game is second in the nation. With 13 touchdowns on the ground he ranks second nationally, while his 7.65 yards per carry is good for 10th. His 186.8 all-purpose yards ranks eighth in Division II. He is the fastest rusher to 1,000 yards in program history.
He is the school's all-time career rushing leader with 4,795 yards on the ground, which ranks third all-time in the RMAC history books. McDondle's 45 career rushing touchdowns is also a program record and ranks fifth all-time in the RMAC. He needs 24 yards to move into second in the RMAC and surpass Mike Miller of Nebraska-Kearney (2001-04). Three more rushing scores placed him in a three-way tie for third.
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 tandem outdid themselves at ASU and combined for 394 yards of offense, 140 more yards than the Grizzlies totaled in the game. A third time the two rushed for more than 100 yards came against Fort Lewis (Cameron - 152, Bernard - 114).
B. McDondle owns 548 rushing yards this season. His 91.3 yards per game ranks seventh in the RMAC. His 7.72 yards per carry is good for ninth nationally.
The ThunderWolves rank eighth nationally in rushing offense with 288.2 yards per game.
The Pack rank No. 34 nationally in sacks allowed, as the offensive line has allowed eight sacks for a loss of 58 yards.
Seniors Kieren Duncan andDeontrae Cooper lead the receiving group this season, as they have brought in 15 and 11 receptions, respectfully. Tight end Zach Boyd leads in second in yards (222) and leads the team with three touchdowns on eight receptions. Duncan has totaled a team-best 277 yards, while Cooper owns 176 yards.
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 13 turnovers (11 interceptions) and turned them into 59 points. The 11 interceptions ranks 12th nationally, while the three defensive touchdowns sits eighth in NCAA Division II. Seven different players have interceptions this year (four players with two) and the have totaled 211 return yards. The three who have brought the pick back for six are LaRon Tarkington, 25 yards and Samuel Singleton, 10 yards at West Texas and Darius Williams, 53 yards at Adams State.
CSU-Pueblo has eight shutouts since 2008 and this season rank 11th nationally in scoring defense, as it has allowed 15.2 points per game. The Pack have held their opponent to 10 points or less three times this season and are 29-0 since 2008 when doing so.
The ThunderWolves are 37-3 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 six games to start the 2015 campaign. The Pack have totalled 23 sacks this season to rank tied for second in NCAA Division II for most sacks and for 3.83 sacks per game. CSU-Pueblo is tied for eighth in tackles for loss per game (9.5 tflpg, -281 yards).
Defensive end Morgan Fox has 11 sacks this season to lead NCAA Division II. He is chasing former teammate Darius Allen for the program sack record. Fox has 30 in his career, while Allen capped his four-year career in 2014 with 34.5 career sacks. The 10 solo sacks is tied for first and the -91 sack yards is tops in the country.
Foxalso ranks fifth in NCAA Division II in tackles for loss with 14, but third in tackles for loss per game (2.8), while the -97 lost yards is second in the nation.
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 18 more occasions. Twice this season the Pack has allowed 15 or less net yards on the ground. Western New Mexico totaled 15 yards on the ground, then the following week the Pack allowed just 10 rushing yards at Adams State. Six times since 2008 the ThunderWolves have allowed 10 or less rushing yards, with the record standing at -4 rushing yards at New Mexico Highlands Nov. 9, 2013.
The ThunderWolves are allowing 64.8 rushing yards per game to sit fourth nationally.
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.
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 (34.0 yards per return).
Greg O'Donnell is 6-of-8 on field goal attempts and has converted on all 30 extra point attempts.
O'Donnell is the program's scoring leader with 374 points. His 56 field goals is also a program record, set this season with a 31-yard make against Western State (Sept. 19).
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, two field goals) to rank 28th nationally. The blocked punt was returned 19 yards for a score 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.
• Cameron McDondle (Oct. 5, Offensive) - McDondle was named RMAC Offensive Player of the Week as he continued to show why he leads the nation in rushing, as he racked up 203 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries in the 56-0 victory at Adams State University. He averaged 10.7 yards per carry and recorded rushing touchdowns of 73, 41 and 17 yards. He only carried the ball once in the second half, as he totaled 186 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries (10.3 ypc) in the first two quarters. He added one reception for seven yards to round out his day on an even 210 yards of offense.
• Darius Williams (Oct. 5, Defensive) - In his first collegiate start, Williams intercepted two passes and returned them 98 yards, which included a 53-yard interception for a touchdown. The redshirt freshman also added a team-high two breakups and a solo tackle in the victory at Adams State. His first collegiate pick was returned 45 yards to the ASU 17. On the next Adams State possession, Williams jumped in front of a pass and returned it untouched to the end zone for his first touchdown as a member of the ThunderWolves.
• 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 Pack also has two players on the practice squad of the Canadian Football League's Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
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.