PUEBLO, Colo. (November 21, 2015) – In the opening round of the 2015 NCAA Division II Football Playoffs, the No. 4 seed Colorado State University-Pueblo took down No. 5 University of Indianapolis 27-14, Saturday at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl.
With the win, the ThunderWolves advanced to the second round of the playoffs and will travel to Wichita Falls, Texas, to take on the No. 1 seed Midwestern State University. Also with the victory, it extends CSU-Pueblo's winning streak to 10 games and snaps Indianapolis' nine contest winning streak.
Bernard McDondle (So., RB, Littleton, Colo.) led the Pack, as he scampered for 187 yards on 28 carries and three touchdowns, with all three coming in the second quarter.
The game featured a UIndy team that had just five turnovers (two interceptions), which was the lowest total nationally in the regular season, while the Pack had 20 interceptions to rank fifth in Division II.
The Greyhounds Connor Barthel entered the contest only throwing two interceptions in the regular season, but Barthel threw two interceptions in the first half Saturday. Brandon Payer (R-Fr., LB, Pine, Colo.) stole the first one and then LaRon Tarkington (Jr., DB, Phoenix, Ariz.) snatched the second, returning it 38 yards. Both turnovers led to eventual McDondle touchdown runs.
Both squads opened the contest trading punts, before CSU-Pueblo's Greg O'Donnell (Sr., K, Monument, Colo.) punched in field goal from 42 yards out. McDondle earned his first score of the afternoon with 9:49 to go in the second frame to go up 10-0.
Fast forward in the stanza, after a defensive turnover, McDondle broke a few tackles from 37 yards out to go up 17-0. His final score of the frame came off a gallop from eight yards out.
The Greyhounds broke the drought late in the stanza, when Andrew Walker skated to end zone on a 65 yard run. Overall the Pack outscored Indianapolis 24-7 in the first half.
In the second half the defenses for both sides were solid, as the squads combined for 10 points. The Greyhounds held the ThunderWolves to another O'Donnell field goal, while Indy used a late quarterback sneak from Barthel with 2:07 left in the fourth quarter to make it a 27-14 final.
- Kieren Duncan (Sr., WR, Goodyear, Ariz.) accumulated a team-high 76 yards receiving, while hauling in seven receptions. He added 67 punt return yards on six returns to total 148 all-purpose yards.
- AJ Thompson (R-Fr., QB, Denver, Colo.) reached 110 yards in the air, going 13-of-22.
- Redshirt freshman Brandon Payer (LB, Pine, Colo.) recorded 11 total tackles (6 solo) and also tallied one interception.
- Ben Estica (Sr., LB, Palm Beach, Fla.) was second in tackles with seven and accumulated one of the ThunderWolves' two sacks.
- Cameron McDondle (Sr., RB, Littleton, Colo.) left the contest with an injury early in the first half and didn't return. In the spare time he played, C. McDondle ran for 26 yards on four carries. With the performance, it marks the first time this season he hasn't reach the century mark in the 11 games he's played in this season. He now has 1,969 yards on the season.
- In the third quarter, senior defensive end Morgan Fox (Fountain, Colo.) recorded his 16th sack of the season, breaking the program's single-season record of 15 held by former teammate Darius Allen. The takedown also marked a program record with 35 career sacks, also held by Allen.
- Indianapolis' Andrew Walker's 65-yard rushing touchdown was the longest rushing play given up by the Pack this season.
- The ThunderWolves defense allowed 103 yards rushing marking just the second time this season an opponent has reached the century mark. The only other team to do so was West Texas A&M University – the Pack's only loss.
- CSU-Pueblo tallied 24 points in the first half, while the Greyhounds entered the match only allowing 19.88 during their nine game winning streak.
- Since 2011 the Pack are 3-2 in its opening game of the playoffs.
- The ThuderWolves had never played a first round game before this season and now will go on the road for the first time in five postseason appearances. The national championship game was a neutral site contest.
The ThunderWolves will be on the road next weekend against the Mustangs in the second round of the playoffs with kickoff set for noon MST (1 p.m. central).
The ThunderWolves finish up the regular season on the road, as they will travel to Las Vegas, N.M. for a matchup against New Mexico Highlands University, with the kickoff set for 2 p.m.
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