PUEBLO, Colo. (November 5, 2015) – No. 4 Colorado State University-Pueblo football team hosts No. 16 Colorado Mesa University in a battle of undefeated Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference teams Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl.
SCOUTING THE PACK: It was business as usual for the No. 4 CSU-Pueblo football team Saturday in a 42-10 road win at Black Hills State. The ThunderWolves dominated the ground game and played stellar defense to move to 7-0 in RMAC play.
• Senior Cameron McDondle continued his more than exceptional ways with 238 rushing yards and three touchdowns. The performance marked his third 200-plus running game of the season and fifth time with three or more touchdowns. He carried the ball 30 times for an 8.3 yards per carry average. His touchdowns went for 71-,4- and 32-yards.
• The Pack (8-1, 7-0 RMAC) defense was strong in the performance against the Yellow Jackets (0-9, 0-7 RMAC), as the ThunderWolves totaled three interceptions and held the home team to 210 yards (just 52 yards rushing). The BHSU point total marked the fifth time this season CSU-Pueblo has held its opponent to 10 points or less.
• The ThunderWolves only led 7-3 after the first and 14-3 at the half, but two touchdowns in the first four minutes and three scores in the first seven minutes of the third quarter vaulted the Pack to a comfortable 35-3 lead.
• The Pack started each the three scoring drives in Black Hills State territory.
• In addition to McDondle's efforts, AJ Thompson was an efficient 10-for-15 (66.7%) for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Both scoring strikes were to Kieren Duncan, as he totaled two receptions for 60 yards.
• Four players on the Pack defense totaled six or more tackles. Redshirt-freshman linebacker Brandon Payer started his second straight game and totaled seven tackles (five solo) with 2.5 tackles for loss (-9 yards) and a forced fumble.
• CSU-Pueblo totaled just two penalties for 20 yards, which is the lowest total and yards total this season.
SCOUTING THE MAVERICKS: The No. 16 Mavericks are 8-1 overall and 7-0 in RMAC play following a decisive 31-17 home victory against then-No. 12 Colorado Mines. CMU took a 14-0 lead after first and secured a 21-14 lead at the break. The Mavericks were ahead 24-17, but just minutes later a 74-yard score put the game away for CMU.
• The Mavericks are coached by Russ Martin, who is in his fourth year as head of the program. He was the offensive coordinator for eight seasons at University of Nebraska-Kearney prior to joining Colorado Mesa.
• The Colorado Mesa defense has totaled 18 interceptions to rank fifth nationally, while the five defensive touchdowns is third in NCAA Division II. The scoring defense has allowed just 13.0 points per game, which is good for second nationally.
• The Mavericks have the second best turnover margin nationally (2.11). They sit 11th in turnovers gained with 26 and rank eighth in turnovers lost with just seven.
• Much like the Pack, the Mavericks have a strong ground game and rank 18th nationally with 242.3 yards per game.
• Special teams is also a key to success for CMU, as they rank fifth in punt returns with 19.2 yards per return.
• The defensive backfield has three players who rank top 50 in both interceptions per game and passes defended, they are Jackson Burrell, Salim Cleghorne and Dustin Rivas.
• Rivas also is the primary punt returner and ranks fifth in NCAA Division II with 18.2 yards per return.
• Quarterback Sean Rubalcaba ranks fifth in the nation in passing yards per completion with 15.66 and his favorite target, Virnal Moon has 59.1 yards per game and ranks sixth nationally in yards per reception (22.2 ypr).
SERIES HISTORY VERSUS CMU: The ThunderWolves and Mavericks have been doing battle since 1939, as the Pack trail in the all-time series 15-17-5. Since 2008, the ThunderWolves are 5-2, which includes five straight wins. Last season in Grand Juction the Pack rolled to a 52-3 victory. The last home game for CSU-Pueblo was in 2013 and the result of that contest was 34-6. In those five wins, the ThunderWolves have outscored CMU 187 (37.4 ppg) to 40 (8.0 ppg).
* 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. The Pack rank No. 4 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).
• The ThunderWolves ranked No. 6 in the second edition of the NCAA Super Region Four rankings. The top seven teams advance to the NCAA Playoffs this season with the top team earning a bye.
• Since 2011, the ThunderWolves have won 56 games (56-5 record during that span).
• The Pack have recorded 27 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 40-9 at the ThunderBowl.
• CSU-Pueblo owns a 12-3 (8-3 at home) record versus ranked opponents (Division II) since 2011. That includes a 4-1 record against the nation's top 10. Ranking history since 2011 on page 6
• In the last five wins, the ThunderWolves have outscored the opponent 240-50, AND:
- Rushed for 1,877 yards (375.4 ypg), allowed 299 yards rushing (59.8 ypg)
- Totaled 2,670 yards of offense (534 ypg), allowed 1,428 total yards (285.6 ypg)
- Recorded 14 sacks, allowed six
- Own a +4 turnover margin
• CSU-Pueblo has scored more than 40 points in seven of the nine games this season, which includes the last six games. The Pack average 41.4 points per game in 2015 to sit 13th nationally. They are now 41-0 since 2008 when scoring 35 or more points.
• The ThunderWolves combined for 619 yards of offense at Chadron State, which is third most in program history. The 2013 team totaled 638 yards of offense at Black Hills State University (Oct. 26).
• Big scoring plays have been a signature of success this season for the Pack. Fifteen times the ThunderWolves have posted a play of 45 yards or more for a score, which includes a touchdown in all three areas of the game:
Cameron McDondle 80 yard TD run at West Texas A&M
Kieren Duncan 98 yard kick return TD at West Texas
Deontrae Cooper 75 yard TD pass from AJ Thompson vs Western State
Cameron McDondle 73 yards TD run at Adams State
AJ Thompson to Zach Boyd 90 yard TD at Adams State
Darius Williams 53 yard interception TD at Adams State
Bernard McDondle 84 yard TD run at Adams State
AJ Thompson to Kieren Duncan 70 yard TD vs Fort Lewis
Cameron McDondle 77 yard TD run at Chadron State
Bernard McDondle 67 yard TD run at Chadron State
Bernard McDondle 66 yard TD run at Chadron State
Cameron McDondle 70 yard TD run vs Colorado Mines
Kieren Duncan 49 yard TD pass from AJ Thompson vs Colorado Mines
Cameron McDondle 71 yd TD run at Black Hills State
Kieren Duncan 45 yd TD pass from AJ Thompson at Black Hills State
• The ThunderWolves have been extremely successful in the second quarter this season with 134 points scored (14.9 ppg). The defense has allowed just 27 points (3.0 ppg) in the second frame this season.
• 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 60.9 percent of the time. The Pack offense has scored on a 88.2 percent clip this season to sit 18th in Division II.
• Head Coach John Wristen's earned his 70th win as head of the program Sept 19 against Western State. He is 76-17 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 28 career games, has four 200 yard games and rushed for a single-game program record of 308 yards Oct. 24 against Colorado Mines. He ran for 203 yards and three touchdowns against Adams State and 248 yards and three scores at Black Hills State. He established a new career record with four touchdowns at Chadron State (Oct. 17). He has four, three touchdown games this season and five in his career. He has rushed for more than 150 yards in all nine games.
• With 22 touchdowns on the ground he ranks first in NCAA Division II and owns the new single-season program record for touchdowns. His 1,793 yards is also first in the country, as is the 199.2 rushing yards per game. His 14.7 points per game is second best in the country, while his 8.34 yards per carry and 203.9 all-purpose yards ranks third in Division II. He eclipsed 1,000 yards in six games to become the fastest to 1,000 in program history.
• He is the school's all-time career rushing leader with 5,509 yards on the ground, which ranks second all-time in the RMAC history books. He's second only to Danny Woodhead, of Chadron State, who finished with a whopping 7,962 career rushing yards. McDondle's 54 career rushing touchdowns is also a program record and ranks tied for second all-time in the RMAC. Woodhead owns the record with 101.
• Bernard McDondle rushed for 125 yards against Central Washington to combine 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), while fourth occurred at Chadron State (Bernard - 207, Cameron - 158).
• The two combined for seven rushing touchdowns at Chadron State (four for Cameron).
• B. McDondle owns 788 rushing yards this season, while his 8.95 rushing yards per carry is the best in NCAA Division II. With 98.5 yards per game, B. McDondle ranks fifth in the RMAC and 51st nationally. He has found the end zone 10 times to rank fourth in the league and 36th in the country.
• The ThunderWolves rank fourth nationally in rushing offense with 323.2 yards per game. Four straight games the Pack rushed for more than 300 yards (Oct. 3-Oct. 24), and twice in the row they went over 400 yards (Oct. 17-24), which included the 452 yards at Chadron State that fell just 29 yards shy of the record of 481 rushing yards, set by the 1977 team against Westminster. The 452 yards is the 12th most by a team this season in NCAA Division II, while the seven rushing scores against the Eagles is tied for the seventh most by a team this season.
• The Pack rank No. 28 nationally in sacks allowed per game (1.22), as the offensive line has allowed 11 sacks for a loss of 77 yards.
• CSU-Pueblo sits 24th in NCAA Division II with 471.1 yards per game.
• Senior Kieren Duncan is guiding the team in receptions (21) and reception yards (426). He has a team-best five touchdowns and is averaging 20.3 yards per catch to sit 19th nationally. Tight end Zach Boyd owns 358 yards on 15 receptions, with four touchdowns and 23.9 yards per catch average.
• The ThunderWolves are 17th in NCAA Division II in passing yards per completion with 14.96.
• 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 17 turnovers (15 interceptions) and turned them into 73 points. The 15 interceptions ranks 17th nationally, while the three defensive touchdowns sits 17th in NCAA Division II. Nine different players have interceptions this year (six players with two) and the have totaled 265 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 sixth nationally in scoring defense, as it has allowed 14.7 points per game. The Pack have held their opponent to 10 points or less five times this season and are 31-0 since 2008 when doing so.
• The ThunderWolves are 38-3 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 six games of the nine contests in 2015. The Pack have totalled 29 sacks this season to rank 12th in NCAA Division II for most sacks and for 3.22 sacks per game. CSU-Pueblo is 15th in tackles for loss per game (8.7 tflpg, - 339 yards).
• Defensive end Morgan Fox has 12 sacks this season, which ranks first in NCAA Division II for sacks per game (1.71). He is chasing former teammate Darius Allen for the program sack record. Fox has 31 in his career, while Allen capped his four-year career in 2014 with 34.5 career sacks. The 10 solo sacks is tied for second and the -95 sack yards is tops in the country.
• Foxalso appears in the top 10 nationally in tackles for loss with 15, as his tackles for loss per game (2.1) is fifth. The -101 lost yards is fourth.
• 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 67.3 rushing yards per game to sit second nationally.
• The Pack rank 25th and first in the RMAC in total defense with 313.2 yards allowed per game.
• 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 tied for the third longest in NCAA Division II this season and has helped the ThunderWolves sit second nationally in kickoff returns (28.56 yards per return).
• Duncan ranks 11th nationally in punt returns with 14.9 yards per return, while he is 39th nationally in combined kick returns (502 yards).
• Greg O'Donnell is 6-of-8 on field goal attempts (75%) and has converted on 50-of-51 extra point attempts.
• O'Donnell is the program's scoring leader with 394 points. His 56 field goals is also a program record, set with a 31-yarder 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 56th 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.
• Bernard McDondle (Oct. 19, Offensive) - McDondle, the backup running back, rushed 11 times for 207 yards and three touchdowns in the 48-10 road victory at Chadron State. He averaged 18.8 yards per carry and now leads the nation in the category with 9.21 yards per carry. His three touchdown runs consisted of 66-, 10- and 67-yards.
• Cameron McDondle (Nov. 2, Offensive) - McDondle continued his dominate ways with 248 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns in the 42-10 victory at Black Hills State University. The performance marked his third 200-plus running game of the season and fifth time with three or more touchdowns. He carried the ball 30 times for an 8.3 yards per carry average. His touchdowns went for 71-,4- and 32-yards.
Cameron McDondle has been named NFF-Colorado Chapter Player of the Week three times.
VS. RANKED SQUADS:CSU-Pueblo owns a 12-3 (8-3 at home) record versus ranked opponents (Division II) since 2011. The ThunderWolves went 6-0 versus the nation's top 25 in 2014 and also added a 47-21 win against Sam Houston State (No. 15) to record the team's first-ever victory against a ranked FCS team.
Oct. 24, 2014 - W, 49-21 - (7) Colorado Mines
Sept. 4, 2014 - W, 35-6 - (11) West Texas A&M
Oct. 25, 2014 - W, 20-12 - at (11) Colorado Mines
Nov. 29, 2014 - W, 52-14 - (23) Angelo State !
Dec. 6, 2014 - W, 31-28 - (9) Ohio Dominican #
Dec. 13, 2014 - W, 10-7 - (25) West Georgia $
Dec. 20, 2014 - W, 13-0 - (1) Minnesota State %
Oct. 12, 2013 - W, 51-42 - at (21) Chadron State
Nov. 30, 2013 - L, 34-30 - (22) Grand Valley State *
Aug. 30, 2012 - W, 44-34 - (24) West Texas A&M
Nov. 24, 2012 - W, 28-7 - (18) Indianapolis *
Dec. 1, 2012 - L, 34-13 - (16) West Texas A&M !
Sept. 1, 2011 - W, 26-24 - (19) West Texas A&M
Oct. 15, 2011 - W, 27-14 - at (4) Nebraska-Kearney
Nov. 26, 2011 - L, 24-21 - (9) Minnesota Duluth *
! - NCAA Division II Second Round
# - NCAA Division II Quarterfinals
$ - NCAA Division II Semifinals
% - NCAA Division II Championship
#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.