PUEBLO, Colo. (November 12, 2015) – The No. 4 Colorado State University-Pueblo football team has an outright Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championship and playoff berth on the line Saturday in the regular season finale at New Mexico Highlands University. Game time is set for 2 p.m. in Las Vegas, N.M.
CSU-PUEBLO (9-1, 8-0 RMAC) GAME NOTES
NEW MEXICO HIGHLANDS (2-8, 2-6 RMAC) GAME NOTES
SCOUTING THE PACK: In a showdown between two undefeated RMAC opponents, the No. 4 CSU-Pueblo football team used a strong second half to take down No. 16 Colorado Mesa, 51-20 in the final regular season home game Saturday.
• With the win, the ThunderWolves improved to 9-1 (8-0 RMAC) and took sole possession atop of the RMAC. The Pack also secured at least a share of the 2015 RMAC Championship, their fifth consecutive conference title and sixth overall in program history.
• Senior Cameron McDondle again controlled the ground game for the ThunderWolves and galloped for 150 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. His brother Bernard McDondle also surpassed the century mark, as he scampered for 117 yards and two touchdowns on just 10 carries for 11.7 yards per carry.
• After allowing the second most points in a first half this season (17 points), the ThunderWolves defense clamped down the Mavericks in final half, holding them to just three points. Entering the match, Colorado Mesa was ranked 18th in the nation in rushing with 242.3 yards per game, but the defense held the Mavericks to 114 yards on the ground.
• The Pack outgained the Mavericks 463-241, which was 200 yards below the road team's average.
• Late in the second quarter the ThunderWolves' Joseph Jones picked off the Mavericks quarterback Aric Kaiser with a 1:21 before intermission that led to a 27-yard field-goal by Greg O'Donnell to take a 19-17 advantage at the midway point. The series of plays turned the momentum and the Pack dominated the second half to close the game on a 32-3 run.
• Kieren Duncan totaled 98 yards returning kicks on four tries and led all receivers with 42 yards on four receptions.
• Morgan Fox dominated the line-of-scrimmage to come away with three sacks, including a safety. He totaled eight tackles (six solo). Fox earned his second RMAC Defensive Player of the Week honor Monday.
• Redshirt-freshman Brandon Payer (LB, Pine, Colo.) started his third straight game and was all over the field, as he had nine tackles (4 solo).
• The defense notched their first safety of the season off of Fox's sack. The last Pack safety came last season against New Mexico Highlands University.
• The Pack finished the home season 6-0 and have won 28 straight regular season games at home, dating back to 2010. CSU-Pueblo has won its last 14 home games after going 8-0, including playoffs, last season.
SCOUTING THE COWBOYS: After staring the season 0-8, the Cowboys are on a two-game win streak after defeating Chadron State 24-16 on the road and Black Hills State 40-31 at home. NMHU was down 19-0 at the half against BHSU last week and went on to score 40 second half points for the victory. The Cowboy scored on six of eight possessions in the second half, with the last possession serving as victory formation in the final seconds of the game. The fourth quarter saw four New Mexico Highlands touchdowns, which included a 95-yard kickoff return for a score.
• The Cowboys are coached by Jeff Mills, who is in his first year as head of the program. Mills came to Las Vegas after spending the 2014 season as the Defensive Line Coach at Indiana State.
• New Mexico Highlands ranks last in the RMAC in scoring offense with 15.5 points per game, while the 37.0 points per game allowed is seventh in the league.
• NMHU sits third in the conference in kickoff returns with 23.9 yards per return.
• The Cowboys lead the RMAC in time of possession with a 33:22 per game average.
• Shelton Miles leads the team and ranks tied for eighth in the conference in tackles with 79 (45 solo).
SERIES HISTORY VERSUS NMHU: The ThunderWolves own a 15-5 all-time record against the Cowboys. The Pack have won 10 straight versus NMHU, dating back to 1982. Since 2008, CSU-Pueblo has outscored New Mexico Highlands 281-120, which includes a 44-21 home victory last season. The Pack are 7-1 in road games against the Cowboys.
* 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. 3 in the D2Football.com poll and No. 4 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).
• The ThunderWolves ranked No. 5 in the final regular season 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 and the two, three and four seeds hosting a first round game.
• Since 2011, the ThunderWolves have won 57 games (57-5 record during that span).
• The Pack have recorded 28 consecutive regular season home victories, dating back to a 66-0 win against New Mexico Highlands Oct. 30, 2010. CSU-Pueblo went 6-0 in 2015 and 8-0 at home last season. Since reinstating the program in 2008, the ThunderWolves are 41-9 at the ThunderBowl.
• CSU-Pueblo owns a 13-3 (9-3 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 six wins, the ThunderWolves have outscored the opponent 291-70, AND:
- Rushed for 2,156 yards (359.3 ypg), allowed 404 yards rushing (67.3 ypg)
- Totaled 3,133 yards of offense (522.2 ypg), allowed 1,669 total yards (278.2 ypg)
- Recorded 18 sacks, allowed nine
- Own a +6 turnover margin
• CSU-Pueblo has scored more than 40 points in eight of the 10 games this season, which includes the last seven games. The Pack average 42.4 points per game in 2015 to sit eighth nationally. They are now 42-0 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
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 146 points scored (14.6 ppg). The defense has allowed just 34 points (3.4 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 19th nationally by allowing the opponent to score 66.7 percent of the time. The Pack offense has scored on a 89.7 percent clip this season to sit 11th in Division II.
• CSU-Pueblo has accumulated five scoring drives of 90 or more yards this season and 16 scoring drives overall of 80 yards or more through 10 games. The Pack marched 95 yards on 10 plays for their first score of the contest against Colorado Mesa.
• Head Coach John Wristen's earned his 70th win as head of the program Sept 19 against Western State. He is 77-17 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 29 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 10 games.
• With 24 touchdowns on the ground he ranks first in NCAA Division II and owns the new single-season program record for touchdowns. His 1,943 yards is also first in the country, as is the 194.3 rushing yards per game and 14.4 points per game. His 8.2 yards per carry is third and 202.0 all-purpose yards ranks fourth 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 5,659 yards on the ground, which ranks second all-time in the RMAC history books. He's second only to Danny Woodhead, formally of Chadron State and current San Diego Charger, who finished with a whopping 7,962 career rushing yards. McDondle's 56 career rushing touchdowns is also a program record and ranks second all-time in the RMAC. Woodhead owns the record with 101. Woodhead's 2,756 yards in 2006 in a the conference's single-season record.
• 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) an the fifth against Colorado Mesa (Cameron - 150, Bernard - 117).
• The two combined for seven rushing touchdowns at Chadron State (four for Cameron).
• B. McDondle owns 905 rushing yards this season, while his 9.23 rushing yards per carry is the best in NCAA Division II. With 199.6 yards per game, B. McDondle ranks sixth in the RMAC and 48th nationally. He has found the end zone 12 times to rank third in the league and 29th in the country.
• The ThunderWolves have never had two 1,000 rushers in a season, let along a 2,000 yard and 1,000 yard rusher.
• The ThunderWolves rank fourth nationally in rushing offense with 318.8 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 (the 434 against CSM is T-19th), while the seven rushing scores against the Eagles is tied for the seventh most by a team this season.
• The Pack rank second in the conference and No. 37 nationally in sacks allowed per game (1.40), as the offensive line has allowed 14 sacks for a loss of 102 yards.
• CSU-Pueblo sits 25th in NCAA Division II with 470.3 yards per game.
• Senior Kieren Duncan is guiding the team in receptions (25) and reception yards (468). He is tied for the team-best with five touchdowns and is averaging 18.7 yards per catch. Tight end Zach Boyd owns 366 yards on 16 receptions, with five touchdowns and 22.9 yards per catch average.
• The ThunderWolves are 16th in NCAA Division II in passing yards per completion with 15.2 and 28th in team passing efficiency with a 146.9 mark.
• Redshirt-fresman quarterback AJ Thompson leads the RMAC in pass efficiency with a 173.1 rating. His 64.2 completion percentage is second in the league.
• 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 20 turnovers (17 interceptions) and turned them into 82 points. The 17 interceptions ranks 12th nationally, while the three defensive touchdowns sits 21st in NCAA Division II. Nine different players have interceptions this year, guided by Joseph Jones' three interceptions (41st nationally) 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 fifth nationally in scoring defense, as it has allowed 15.2 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 39-3 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 seven of the 10 games in 2015. The Pack have totalled 34 sacks this season to rank 10th in NCAA Division II for most sacks and for 3.30 sacks per game. CSU-Pueblo is 11th in tackles for loss per game (8.6 tflpg, - 371 yards).
• Defensive end Morgan Fox has 15 sacks this season, which ranks first in NCAA Division II for sacks per game (1.88). He is chasing former teammate Darius Allen for the program single-season and career sack records. Fox has 34 in his career, while Allen capped his four-year career in 2014 with 34.5 career sacks. He recorded 15.5 sacks in both 2013 and 2014. Fox is just one sack from surpassing Allen in both categories. The 14 solo sacks is second and the -114 sack yards is also second in the country.
• Fox also appears in the top 10 nationally in tackles for loss with 18, as his tackles for loss per game (2.3) is tied for third. The -120 lost yards is third.
• 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 17th in the NCAA and first in the RMAC in total defense with 306.0 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 (27.75 yards per return).
• Duncan ranks 23rd nationally in punt returns with 12.1 yards per return, while he is 34th nationally in combined kick returns (586 yards).
• Greg O'Donnell is 7-of-9 on field goal attempts (77.8%) and has converted on 53-of-56 extra point attempts.
• O'Donnell is the program's scoring leader with 400 points. His 57 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 four kicks this season (two punts, two field goals) to rank 40th nationally. The first 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.
• Morgan Fox (Nov. 9, Defensive) - Fox recorded his third, three-sack game of the season Saturday in the 51-20 victory against No. 16 Colorado Mesa in a battle of undefeated RMAC teams. The three quarterback takedowns resulted in a loss of 19 yards and one of them was in the end zone for a safety. The NCAA Division II leader in sacks per game (1.88) finished the game with eight tackles (six solo), which ranked second the team.
Cameron McDondle has been named NFF-Colorado Chapter Player of the Week three times, while Morgan Fox has earned the honor once.
VS. RANKED SQUADS:CSU-Pueblo owns a 13-3 (9-3 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, 2015 - W, 49-21 - (7) Colorado Mines
Nov. 7, 2015 - W, 51-20 - (16) Colorado Mesa
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 13 tackles (eight solo) through eight games on the defensive line, while Jensen has played in four games for the Ravens. The Pack also has two players on the practice squad of the Canadian Football League's (CFL) Winnipeg Blue Bombers, in Chase Vaughn (2008-09) and C.J. Roberts (2011-14). Finally, Paul Browning (2010-14) signed a contract with the Arena Football League's (AFL) Orlando Predators.
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.