WICHITA FALLS, Texas (November 28, 2015) – The No. 4 Colorado State University-Pueblo football team squashed a late rally attempt by the No. 9 Midwestern State University Mustangs to advance to NCAA Division II Playoff Quarterfinals. A dominating defense, 321 yards from the McDondle brothers, and four field goals helped the Pack eliminate the Mustangs with a 26-17 road win.
With their victory, the Pack (12-1) advanced to the regional finals for the second consecutive season and third time in program history. The ThunderWolves will host sixth-seeded and No. 12 Grand Valley State University (11-2) at 12 p.m. MST at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl.
Cameron McDondle (Sr., RB, Littleton, Colo.) rushed for 160 yards in his first full game in two weeks. He totaled a career-high 43 rushing attempts in the game. McDondle reached 2,000 yards for the season in the win and now has 2,129 yards on the season. He has reached the milestone in two straight seasons and surpassed his program record from 2014 (2,014) to establish the new mileston.
Bernard McDondle (So., RB, Littleton, Colo.) rumbled his way to 161 yards on 16 carries and one of the two Pack touchdowns. Bernard entered the game leading the nation in yards per carry.
CSU-Pueblo is now just the fifth school in NCAA Division II history to have a 2,000 yard and 1,000 yard rusher in the same season.
Greg O'Donnell (Sr., K, Monument, Colo.) totaled four field goals on five attempts. He hit from 19, 28, 31 and 45 yards, respectively, The four field goals tied a career high, while his 14 points was tied for second in his career (four field goals and 17 points at Sam Houston State in 2014).
The Pack held Midwestern State (10-2) to just 183 yards of total offense, which was the lowest by a CSU-Pueblo opponent this season. The ThunderWolves forced three turnovers in the win.
Brandon Payer (R-Fr., LB, Pine, Colo.) led the ThunderWolves with nine tackles (six solo), which included one of the six Pack tackles for loss (-24 yards).
CSU-Pueblo overcame four fumbles, as MSU scored all 17 points off those miscues and short-field situations.
On just their third offensive play of the game, the Pack struck for a touchdown. AJ Thompson (R-Fr., QB, Denver, Colo.) delivered the deep ball to Kieren Duncan (Sr., WR, Goodyear, Ariz.), who went 48 yards for the score. The TD was Duncan's sixth receiving score of the season and his fourth of 40 or more yards. Thompson celebrated his 13th TD pass this season as the Pack went up 7-0.
C. McDondle made history on the next Pack drive. He became the first CSU-Pueblo player to break the 2,000 yard rushing plateau in consecutive seasons on a 26-yard scamper that gave the Pack 1st–and-goal at the Midwestern State 10.
Cam's brother Bernard bounced into the end zone on the next play. Bernard's 10-yard run earned him his 17th score of the season. An O'Donnell extra point gave the Pack a 14-0 lead heading into the second quarter.
In the second quarter, Midwestern State tightened up defensively. After a long Pack drive, stopped on the two-yard line, O'Donnell knocked a field goal through the uprights to give the Pack a 17-0 lead.
The Mustangs responded with their best drive of the first half. They marched 30 yards, before a leaping interception by Seth Brown (Jr., LB, Colorado Springs, Colo.) gave the Pack the ball back.
CSU-Pueblo could not add to their lead after the Brown pick, so Midwestern had one more chance before halftime. Quade Coward's pass deflected off of his receiver and into the arms of Darius Williams (R-Fr., DB, Gilbert, Ariz.). Williams' interception ensured that the Pack would carry a 17-0 lead into halftime.
The Pack defense imposed its will on Midwestern in the first half, limiting the Mustangs to just 95 net yards. The 95 yards of total offense marked a season low for MSU.
In the first drive of the third quarter, the Pack reached the red zone again, but could not break through for six. O' Donnell knocked through a 28-yard field goal to make it 20-0.
The Mustangs responded with a touchdown (set up at the CSU-Pueblo 16 because of a fumble) and a field goal (drive start at Pack 29) as they cut the Pack lead to 10 entering the fourth quarter. CSU-Pueblo answered with an O'Donnell 37-yard field goal to make it 23-10 early in the fourth.
After forcing Midwestern to punt, the Pack handed the Mustangs the ball back on the 19-yard line because of a turnover. MSU turned the short field into a touchdown as they closed within six points, 23-17.
Another Pack drive stalled in Midwestern territory with four minutes left in regulation. Coach John Wristen's team turned to O' Donnell again. The senior kicker belted a 45-yard field goal through the uprights to put the Pack back in front by nine.
Midwestern crossed midfield on their ensuing possession in a minute, however, they had difficulties moving it any further. Facing 4th and five with under three minutes left in the game, the Mustangs went for it, but Coward's pass could not find a target after Morgan Fox (Sr., DE, Fountain, Colo.) pressured him into an incompletion.
The incomplete pass helped the Pack thwart the Mustangs rally and close out the 26-17 win. O' Donnell made four of his five field goal attempts in the game as he scored the Pack's last 12 points.
• The ThunderWolves have reached the NCAA Quarterfinals in two seasons (2012 and 2014). The Pack won last season against Ohio Dominican University (31-28) and in 2012 lost to West Texas A&M University (34-13).
• CSU-Pueblo fell to Grand Valley State in the 2013 second round at home by the score of 34-30.
• The ThunderWolves have won 10 straight against the nations top 25 and three consecutive against teams ranked in the top 10.
• CSU-Pueblo has allowed just 41 points in the second quarter this season.
• The Pack have reached 12 or more wins for the third time in program history (2012 and 2014).
For fans who purchased the 2-game playoff pack, they will have to use the game two ticket on Saturday's quarterfinal game.
Single-game tickets for Saturday's playoff game will go on sale at 8:30 a.m. Tursday. Fans can visit the Massari Arena Box Office or purchase by calling (719) 549-2050 or online at gothunderwolves.com.
The Massari Arena Box Office will be open from 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and on Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. The ThunderBowl ticket office opens from 12-5:30 p.m. Friday and two hours before the game Saturday (10 a.m.).
Tickets are $12 and $5 for students and ThunderHill.
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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.