PUEBLO, Colo. (November 26, 2015) – The No. 4 Colorado State University-Pueblo football team will travel for the NCAA Playoffs Saturday when the ThunderWolves meet No. 9 Midwestern State University at 1 p.m. CST in Wichita Falls, Texas in the NCAA Playoffs Second Round.
The Pack (11-1) will play in their first true NCAA road game in program history as the No. 4-seed ThunderWolves will battle the No. 1-seed Mustangs (10-1).
SCOUTING THE PACK: No. 4 seed CSU-Pueblo took down No. 5 University of Indianapolis 27-14 in the opening round of the 2015 NCAA Division II Football Playoffs.
• Bernard McDondle 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 stole the first one and then LaRon Tarkington snatched the second, returning it 38 yards. Both turnovers led to eventual McDondle touchdown runs.
• The ThunderWolves opened the game jumping out to a 24-0 lead before the Greyhounds broke the drought late in second, when Andrew Walker skated to end zone on a 65 yard run.
• 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 Greg O'Donnell field goal, while UIndy used a late quarterback sneak from Barthel with 2:07 left in the fourth quarter to make it a 27-14 final.
• Kieren Duncan 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.
• Payer recorded 11 total tackles (6 solo) and also tallied one interception.
• In the third quarter, Morgan Fox 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.
SCOUTING THE MUSTANGS: The Mustangs finished the regular season with a 10-1 record and moved into the No. 1 seed of Super Region Four following a dramatic 37-33 road victory at then-No. 11 Texas A&M Commerce for the Lone Star Conference Championship. MSU's lone loss had come just three weeks earlier at Commerce by the score of 27-14. As the No. 1 seed, the Mustangs earned a first round bye last week.
• The Mustangs are coached by Bill Maskill, who was hired in March of 2002 and serves as the longest tenured head coach in the Lone Star Conference. Maskill has posted a winning season in each of his 14 at MSU and owns a 111-42 (.725) record.
• The Mustangs are making their sixth appearance in the NCAA Playoffs with previous visits in 2004, 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2012. In those five visits, MSU has reached the second round just once and is 1-5 overall. In their last appearance in 2012, the Mustangs lost on the road to UIndy by the score of 31-14. The Greyhounds advanced to play CSU-Pueblo that season.
• Midwestern State averages 32.0 points per game and allows 23.2. The Mustangs have totaled 419.8 yards per game this season and allowed 386.2.
• In nine game and eight starts, quarterback Hagen Huthinson leads the Mustangs with 1,375 yards and 10 touchdowns. Vincent Johnson owns 581 rushing yards and six rushing scores to lead the team. Two players are pulling in more than 400 yards receiving, one of which is Arsenio Phillips, who has six receiving touchdowns.
• Dan Laudermilk is the defensive leader with 90 tackles (35 solo) and 9.5 tackles for loss (-25 yards). Marqui Christian owns 83 tackles (45 solo) with two forced and two recovered fumbles (returned 63 yards). The Mustang defense has totaled five touchdowns this season, which is seventh nationally.
SERIES HISTORY VERSUS MSU: The ThunderWolves and Mustangs have never met.
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. In the final regular season poll, the Pack ranked 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).
• CSU-Pueblo has made five straight appearances in the NCAA Division II Playoffs.
• 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. The win against UIndy moved that record to 6-3.
• CSU-Pueblo had never played a first round game, as it earned a bye in each of the last four years. Saturday's game against Midwestern State will serve as the team's first road game in NCAA playoffs. The Pack's lone game away from the ThunderBowl was last season's national championship game.
• The Pack are now 3-2 in their first game of a playoff season and own a 5-3 home record in the postseason.
• Since 2011, the ThunderWolves have won 59 games (59-5 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 14-3 (10-3 at home) record versus ranked opponents (Division II) since 2011. That includes a 4-1 record against the nation's top 10. The Pack have won nine straight against nationally-ranked opponents (6-0 in 2014 and 3-0 in 2015). Ranking history since 2011 page 6
• In the last eight wins, the ThunderWolves have outscored the opponent 351-91, AND:
- Rushed for 2,653 yards (331.6 ypg), allowed 604 yards rushing (75.5 ypg)
- Totaled 3,749 yards of offense (468.6 ypg), allowed 2,222 total yards (277.8 ypg)
- Recorded 23 sacks, allowed 10
- Own a +9 turnover margin
• CSU-Pueblo has scored more than 40 points in eight of the 12 games this season, which included seven straight games. The Pack average 40.3 points per game in 2015 to sit 15th 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
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 174 points scored (14.5 ppg). The defense has allowed just 41 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 20th nationally by allowing the opponent to score 66.7 percent of the time. The Pack offense has scored on a 88.6 percent clip this season to sit 15th 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 79-17 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
• 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 had rushed for more than 150 yards in all 10 games played before leaving the game against UIndy in the first quarter due to injury.
• In NCAA Division II, McDondle ranks second in rushing yards (1,969), rushing yards per game (179.0) and rushing touchdowns (24) and owns the new single-season program record for touchdowns. His 13.1 points per game is also second. His 8.2 yards per carry is third and 186.0 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 5,685 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 1,270 rushing yards this season, while his 8.76 rushing yards per carry is the best in NCAA Division II. With 115.5 yards per game, B. McDondle ranks 21st nationally. He has found the end zone 16 times to rank 17th 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 307.1 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. 23 nationally in sacks allowed per game (1.17), as the offensive line has allowed 14 sacks for a loss of 102 yards.
• CSU-Pueblo sits 42nd in NCAA Division II with 443.3 yards per game.
• Senior Kieren Duncan is guiding the team in receptions (32) and reception yards (544). He is tied for the team-best with five touchdowns and is averaging 17.0 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 28th in NCAA Division II in passing yards per completion.
• Redshirt-fresman quarterback AJ Thompson led the RMAC in pass efficiency at the end of the regular season. He owns a 155.5 rating and a 60.8 completion percentage.
• 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 28 turnovers (22 interceptions) and turned them into 99 points. The 22 interceptions ranks fourth nationally, while the three defensive touchdowns sits 24th in NCAA Division II. Eleven different players have interceptions this year, guided by Joseph Jones' four interceptions (56th nationally). The Pack have totaled 348 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 second nationally in scoring defense, as it has allowed 14.4 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 12 games in 2015. The Pack have totalled 39 sacks this season to rank 19th in NCAA Division II for most sacks and for 3.08 sacks per game. CSU-Pueblo is 26th in tackles for loss per game (8.0 tflpg, - 432 yards).
• Defensive end Morgan Fox has 16 sacks this season, which ranks second in NCAA Division II for sacks per game (1.60). Fox became the school's all-time single-season and career sack leader against UIndy, as his 16 this season and 35 career sacks, surpasses former teammate Darius Allen, who capped his four-year career in 2014 with 34.5 career sacks. He recorded 15.5 sacks in both 2013 and 2014. The 15 solo sacks is second and the -123 sack yards is also second in the country.
• Foxranks 13th nationally in tackles for loss with 19, as his tackles for loss per game (1.9). The -129 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 75.9 rushing yards per game to sit fifth nationally.
• The Pack rank 15th in the NCAA and first in the RMAC in total defense with 301.1 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 seventh nationally in kickoff returns (25.75 yards per return).
• Duncan ranks 27th nationally in punt returns with 10.6 yards per return. He ranks 26th nationally in combined kick returns (702 yards).
• Greg O'Donnell is 10-of-12 on field goal attempts (83.3%) and has converted on 60-of-63 extra point attempts.
• O'Donnell is the program's scoring leader with 416 points. His 60 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 45th 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 14-3 (10-3 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. The Pack are 3-0 against ranked opponents this season and have won nine straight against the nation's best.
Oct. 24, 2015 - W, 49-21 - (7) Colorado Mines
Nov. 7, 2015 - W, 51-20 - (16) Colorado Mesa
Nov. 21, 2014 - W, 27-14 - (13) Indianapolis ^
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 First Round
! - 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.