ThunderWolves set for NCAA Playoff First Round battle with UIndy Saturday

PUEBLO, Colo. (November 20, 2015) – The four-seed Colorado State University-Pueblo football team will host its first-ever appearance in the first round of the NCAA Division II Playoffs, Saturday, as it entertains the fifth-seed University of Indianapolis. Game time is set for 12 p.m. at Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl.

CSU-PUEBLO (10-1) GAME NOTES (PDF)
UINDY (10-1) GAME NOTES

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SCOUTING THE PACK: Fourth-ranked CSU-Pueblo secured its fifth consecutive Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championship by finishing the perfect 9-0 conference season with a 33-7 victory at New Mexico Highlands University, Saturday.

• The ThunderWolves went 10-1 during the regular season for their fifth straight 10-win season. 

•The defense held their opponent to 10 or less points seven of 11 games during the regular season and finished with 14.5 points allowed per game (12.7 ppg in conference). The Pack recovered three fumbles, totaled three interceptions and recorded three sacks in the victory.

• CSU-Pueblo again relied on the ground game to post the win, as the Pack rushed for 276 yards, this time without their top back, Cameron McDondle. Brother Bernard McDondle carried the load and rushed 19 times for 178 yards (9.4 ypc) and a score. 

• He surpassed the 1,000 yard mark for the season and with C. McDondle became the first combination in school history to both reach the 1,000 yard mark in a season. Entering the season, only 31 times in NCAA Division II history had two players from the same team reached the milestone.

Fradlet Dort had a career game and totaled 105 yards and two touchdowns with a long run of 50 yards. He averaged 15.0 yards per carry and recorded 40- and 50-yard rushing touchdowns.

• The ThunderWolves finished the season rushing for at least 266 yards in all but one game, the loss at West Texas A&M University. The Pack also had two players reach 100 yards or more in six contests in 2015.

Kevin Cuff led the team with seven tackles, all solo, and added a tackle for loss. Tony Campton recorded six tackles (four solo) with a sack.

• The Pack created six turnovers for the second time this season (six interceptions at Adams State).

• CSU-Pueblo attempted just seven passes and the lone completion went for a touchdown, 10 yards from AJ Thompson to Treyben Letlow.  

SCOUTING THE GREYHOUNDS: After finishing with a perfect 10-0 record in Division II games, the Greyhounds earned their third postseason appearance in the last four years. Playing in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, UIndy went 8-0 in league play to earn its fourth straight conference title. The win total marked just the second 10-win regular season in program history (2013). The 2012 squad also amassed 10 victories, as it finished 10-3 after earning a first-round playoff win. 

• The Greyhounds are coached by sixth-year head coach Bob Bartolomeo. He owns a 52-17 (.754) record as the head of UIndy. With 35 years of experience, primarily in central Indiana, Bartolomeo has coached at nearly every level, from high school to Division II to Division I bowl games.

• Play against one team. The Greyhounds have taken care of the ball this season and rank first nationally in turnovers lost with only five (3 fumbles and 2 interceptions each rank second nationally). 

• The Indianapolis defense allows 20.4 points per game (32nd nationally) and 343.0 yards per contest (45th in the nation).

• Derrick Bryant owns a team-best 94 tackles (51 solo), while Rob Dury owns 90 tackles (59 solo) with nine tackles for loss (-23 yards). Lee Campbell has 17 tackles for loss (-60 yards) and 7.5 sacks (-38 yards). 

• The Greyhounds are averaging 35.3 points and 444.4 yards per game, behind efficient quarterback Connor Barthel, who is first nationally in completion percentage (70.5) and 15th in pass efficiency (155.8).

• UIndy ranks second nationally in punt returns with 21.1 yards per return. Reece Horn owns 26.3 yards per punt return and two touchdowns. He also is third nationally in receiving yards (1,324) and fourth in receiving yards per game (120.4). 

SERIES HISTORY VERSUS UINDY: The ThunderWolves and Greyhounds have met just once, the second round of the 2012 NCAA Playoffs. The Pack hosted the game and downed their visitors 28-7 for the program's first NCAA Division II Playoff victory. 

• A freshman, Cameron McDondle rushed for 110 yards and three touchdowns. 

Kieren Duncan caught two passes for 28 yards in his first playoff game. 

2012 RMAC Defensive Freshman of the Year Kevin Cuff tied for third on the team with six tackles (four solo). Tony Campton had four tackles (one solo).

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). 

PLAYOFF NOTES

• By winning four straight games in 2014 and in the process claiming the NCAA Division II National Championship, the Pack improved to 5-3 in NCAA Division II Playoff games since 2011.

• CSU-Pueblo has never played a first round game, as it has earned a bye in each of the last four years.

• The Pack are 2-2 in their first game of a playoff season and own a 4-3 home record in the postseason.

TEAM NOTES

• Since 2011, the ThunderWolves have won 58 games (58-5 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 (three playoff wins) at home last season. Since reinstating the program in 2008, the ThunderWolves are 41-9 (.820) 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 page 6

• In the last seven wins, the ThunderWolves have outscored the opponent 324-77, AND:

- Rushed for 2,432 yards (347.4 ypg), allowed 501 yards rushing (71.6 ypg)

- Totaled 3,418 yards of offense (488.4 ypg), allowed 1,938 total yards (276.9 ypg)

- Recorded 21 sacks, allowed 10

- Own a +9 turnover margin

• CSU-Pueblo has scored more than 40 points in eight of the 11 games this season, which included seven straight games. The Pack average 41.5 points per game in 2015 to sit 12th 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. Seventeen 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

Bernard McDondle 53 yd TD run at New Mexico Highlands

Fradlet Dort 50 yard TD run at New Mexico Highlands

• The ThunderWolves have been extremely successful in the second quarter this season with 153 points scored (13.9 ppg). The defense has allowed just 34 points (3.1 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 15th nationally by allowing the opponent to score 65.5 percent of the time. The Pack offense has scored on a 90.2 percent clip this season to sit 10th 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 11 games. The Pack marched 95 yards on 10 plays for their first score of the contest against Colorado Mesa (Nov. 7).

• Head Coach John Wristen's earned his 70th win as head of the program Sept 19 against Western State. He is 78-17 in eight seasons at CSU-Pueblo.

• All five road games this season were 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 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 played.  

• With 24 touchdowns on the ground he ranks first in NCAA Division II and owns the new single-season program record for touchdowns. His 14.4 points per game is also first, while the 1,943 rushing yards is second in the country, as is the 194.3 rushing yards per game and. His 8.2 yards per carry is third and 202.0 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 5,659 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) and the fifth against Colorado Mesa (Cameron - 150, Bernard - 117).

• The two combined for seven rushing touchdowns at Chadron State (four for Cameron).

• B. McDondle reached the 1,000 yard mark against New Mexico Highlands and owns 1,083 rushing yards this season, while his 9.26 rushing yards per carry is the best in NCAA Division II. With 108.3 yards per game, B. McDondle ranks fourth in the RMAC and 30th nationally. He has found the end zone 13 times to rank fourth in the league and 30th in the country. 

• The ThunderWolves have never had two 1,000 rushers in a season, let alone a 2,000 yard and 1,000 yard rusher. In fact, in NCAA Division II football history (since 1946) only four times has there been a 2,000 and 1,000 yard rusher on the same team, in the same season:

Bloomsburg (2012) – Franklyn Quiteh (2,139) and Eddie Mateo (1,076)

Pittsburg State (2004) – Germaine Race (2,213) and Neal Phippot (QB – 1,398)*

South Dakota State (1999) – Josh Ranek (2,055) and Jamel White (1,807)

Texas A&M Kingsville (1986) – Johnny Bailey (2,011) & Heath Sherman (1,515)! 

* NCAA Division II Record for most yards gained by two players, same team, in a season

! NCAA Division II Record for most yards gained per game by two players, same team, in a season

• The ThunderWolves rank fifth nationally in rushing offense with 314.9 yards per game. Four straight games the Pack rushed for more than 300 yards (Oct. 3-Oct. 24), and twice in a 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 13th most by a team this season in NCAA Division II (the 434 against CSM is T-21st), while the seven rushing scores against the Eagles is tied for the eighth most by a team this season. 

• The Pack rank second in the conference and No. 29 nationally in sacks allowed per game (1.27), as the offensive line has allowed 14 sacks for a loss of 102 yards.

• CSU-Pueblo sits 34th in NCAA Division II with 453.5 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 18th in NCAA Division II in passing yards per completion with 15.1 and 39th in team passing efficiency with a 144.1 mark.

• Redshirt-fresman quarterback AJ Thompson leads the RMAC in pass efficiency with a 167.8 rating. His 61.5 completion percentage is fourth in the league.

DEFENSE

• The Pack have been one of the most stingiest and unforgiving defenses in the nation the past five 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 26 turnovers (20 interceptions) and turned them into 85 points. The 20 interceptions ranks fifth nationally, while the three defensive touchdowns sits 24th in NCAA Division II. 10 different players have interceptions this year, guided by Joseph Jones' four interceptions (42nd nationally). The Pack has totaled 291 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 third nationally in scoring defense, as it has allowed 14.5 points per game. The Pack have held their opponent to 10 points or less six times this season and are 32-0 since 2008 when doing so.

• The ThunderWolves are 40-3 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 eight of the 11 games in 2015. The Pack have totalled 37 sacks this season to rank 14th in NCAA Division II for most sacks and for 3.18 sacks per game. CSU-Pueblo is 13th in tackles for loss per game (8.4 tflpg, - 417 yards).

• Defensive end Morgan Fox has 15 sacks this season, which ranks first in NCAA Division II for sacks per game (1.67). 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. 

• Foxalso appears in the top 10 nationally in tackles for loss with 18, as his tackles for loss per game (2.0) is tied for eighth. 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 73.5 rushing yards per game to sit fourth nationally.

• The Pack rank 19th in the NCAA and first in the RMAC in total defense with 302.6 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.

SPECIAL TEAMS   

• 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 third nationally in kickoff returns (26.87 yards per return).  

• Duncan ranks sixth in kickoff returns with 30.4 yards per return, while he is 27th nationally in punt returns with 10.5 yards per return. He ranks 35th nationally in combined kick returns (635 yards).

• Greg O'Donnell is 8-of-10 on field goal attempts (80.0%) and has converted on 57-of-60 extra point attempts.

• O'Donnell is the program's scoring leader with 407 points. His 58 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 44th nationally. The first blocked punt was returned 19 yards for a score by Zach Young against Central Washington.

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 has started this season and has 13 tackles (eight solo) through nine 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.