Lakers visit ThunderWolves in NCAA Quarterfinal showdown Saturday

PUEBLO, Colo. (December 3, 2015) – The No. 4 Colorado State University-Pueblo football team will make its third appearance in an NCAA Division II Quarterfinal game in the last four years when No. 12 Grand Valley State University visits the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl, Dec. 5 in a 12 p.m. kickoff. 

Tickets are on sale at the Massari Arena Ticket Office Friday, Dec. 4 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Starting at 12:30 p.m. Friday, all ticket sales will be conducted at the ThunderBowl Ticket Office until 5 p.m. and then again at 10 a.m. Saturday. Tickets are also avaialble online.



LIVE AUDIO (1350 AM Fox Sports Pueblo and iHeart App)

SCOUTING THE PACK: The No. 4 CSU-Pueblo football team squashed a late rally attempt by the No. 9 Midwestern State University Mustangs to advance to Saturday's 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 four years. 

Cameron McDondle 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. He has reached the milestone in two straight seasons and surpassed his program record from 2014 (2,014) to establish the new milestone.

Bernard McDondle rumbled his way to 161 yards on 16 carries and one of the two Pack touchdowns. Bernard averaged 10.1 yards per carry to increase his NCAA Division II-best 8.89 yards per carry mark.

• CSU-Pueblo is now just the fourth school in NCAA Division II history to have a 2,000 yard and 1,000 yard rusher in the same season.

• Kicker Greg O'Donnell 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 and held the Mustangs to a 1-for-12 (8%) effort on third downs. 

• Linebacker Brandon Payer 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.  

• 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).

• 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).

SCOUTING THE LAKERS: The 11-2 Lakers have avenged both their losses from earlier in the season during the 2015 Playoffs. GV defeated No. 3-seed Ashland in round one 45-28, then traveled to No. 2-seed Ferris State and won 38-34. The Lakers scored the game-winning touchdown with eight minutes left and held off the FSU offense, led by 2014 Harlon Hill Trophy winner and 2015 finalist, Jason Vander Laan. 

• Matt Mitchell is in his fifth season as head coach at Grand Valley State. He is 50-13 as the head coach with three NCAA Playoff appearances. In 11 years as a part of the Laker football program (five as head coach and six as an assistant) Mitchell has coached in two NCAA DII Championship games, four NCAA semifinal contests and now nine NCAA quarterfinal games.

• In the win against Ferris State, Bart Williams completed 20-of-34 passes for 335 yards and four TDs. Matt Williams caught five passes for 126 yards and two TDs, while Urston Smith pulled down four passes for 108 yards and a TD. LB David Talley led the defense with 15 tackles, while 2015 Gene Upshaw Award winner Matt Judon chipped in 12 stops and

two TFL.

• GV has 33 turnovers gained to rank fifth nationally,  but have lost 22 turnovers. The Lakers sit eighth nationally in fumbles recovered (15) and 19th in passes intercepted (18).

• The GVSU offense is 30th nationally with 456.5 yards per game, while scoring 39.5 points per game (17th in NCAA Division II). 

• The Laker defense ranks 12th in sacks (3.23 spg) and sits 37th nationally in rushing defense (130.2 ypg).

• QB Bart Williams leads NCAA Division II in passing TDs (41), ranks fifth in passing yards (3,690), sixth in points responsible for (248), seventh in passing efficiency (158.2) and 11th in passing yards per completion (15.4). In 411 attempts, he has 17 interceptions.

• Matt Judon leads all divisions of the NCAA with 20 sacks, while his 1.8 tackles for loss per game is 17th nationally. 

SERIES HISTORY VERSUS GVSU: In their only meeting, CSU-Pueblo fell to Grand Valley State in the 2013 NCAA Second Round at home by the score of 34-30. 

• GV scored the game-winning touchdown on a pass play from 22 yards out with 1:39 remaining in the third quarter, as both teams went scoreless in the fourth. 

• Cameron McDondle rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown in that game. 

THE POLLS: CSU-Pueblo entered the 2015 season as the No. 2 team in both AFCA and 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 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.

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), both at home.

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 two wins this season has moved that record to 7-3. 

CSU-Pueblo had never played a first round game, as it earned a bye in each of the last four years. The game at Midwestern State served as the team's first road game in NCAA playoffs. Prior to last weekend's victory, 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 60 games (60-5 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 has gone 7-0 in 2015 (one playoff win) and 8-0 (three playoff wins) at home last season for a 15-game home win streak. Since reinstating the program in 2008, the ThunderWolves are 41-9 (.820) at the ThunderBowl.

CSU-Pueblo owns a 15-3 (10-3 at home) record versus ranked opponents (Division II) since 2011. That includes a 5-1 record against the nation's top 10. The Pack have won 10 straight against nationally-ranked opponents (6-0 in 2014 and 4-0 in 2015). Ranking history since 2011 page 6

In the last nine wins, the ThunderWolves have outscored the opponent 377-108, AND:

- Rushed for 2,934 yards (326.0 ypg), allowed 694 yards rushing (77.1 ypg)

- Totaled 4,096 yards of offense (455.1 ypg), allowed 2,405 total yards (267.2 ypg)

- Recorded 24 sacks, allowed 12

- Own a +8 turnover margin

CSU-Pueblo has scored more than 40 points in eight of the 13 games this season, which included seven straight games. The Pack average 39.2 points per game in 2015 to sit 19th 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. Nineteen 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

Kieren Duncan 48 yd TD pass from AJ Thompson at Midwestern State

Greg O'Donnell 45 yd FG at Midwestern State

The ThunderWolves have been extremely successful in the second quarter this season with 177 points scored (13.6 ppg). The defense has allowed just 41 points (3.2 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 25th nationally by allowing the opponent to score 68.8 percent of the time. The Pack offense has scored on a 87.8 percent clip this season to sit 17th 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 13 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, then his 80th win against Midwestern State in the NCAA Second Round. He is 80-17 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.



Senior running back Cameron McDondle, a 2015 Harlon Hill Trophy finalist, has rushed for more than 100 yards in 30 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 (2,129), rushing yards per game (177.4) and rushing touchdowns (24) and owns the new single-season program record for touchdowns. His 7.5 yards per carry is third, 12.0 points per game is fourth and 183.8 all-purpose yards ranks fifth in Division II. He eclipsed 1,000 yards in six games to become the fastest to 1,000 in program history and with 2,000-plus yards this season has recorded back-to-back 2K seasons. The rushing yards total in 2015 is a program record.    

He is the school's all-time career rushing leader with 5,845 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 is 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), fifth was against Colorado Mesa (Cameron - 150, Bernard - 117) and sixth came at Midwestern State (Bernard - 161, Cameron - 160).

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 1,431 rushing yards this season to rank eighth nationally, while his 8.89 rushing yards per carry is the best in NCAA Division II. With 119.3 yards per game, B. McDondle ranks 17th nationally. He has found the end zone 17 times to rank 13th 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 three times before the brothers did it this year has there been a 2,000 and 1,000 yard rusher on the same team, in the same season. The McDondles are just 52 yards from the NCAA Division II record for most yards game by two players, 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)*

- 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 305.1 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 (1.23), as the offensive line has allowed 16 sacks for a loss of 107 yards.

CSU-Pueblo sits 45th in NCAA Division II with 435.9 yards per game.

Senior Kieren Duncan is guiding the team in receptions (34), reception yards (600) and touchdowns (6) and is averaging 17.6 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 25th in NCAA Division II in passing yards per completion (14.5).

Redshirt-fresman quarterback AJ Thompson led the RMAC in pass efficiency at the end of the regular season. He owns a 153.2 rating and a 58.9 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. 

CSU-Pueblo has eight shutouts since 2008 and this season rank second nationally in scoring defense, as it has allowed 14.6 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.

In 2015, the Pack defense has created 31 turnovers (24 interceptions) to rank 11th in Division II and turned them into 99 points. The 24 interceptions ranks second nationally, while the three defensive touchdowns sits 24th in NCAA Division II. Twelve different players have interceptions this year, guided by Joseph Jones' four interceptions. The Pack have totaled 363 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. 

The Pack's team passing efficiency defense sits 16th nationally (102.13).

The ThunderWolves are 41-3 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 13 games in 2015. The Pack have totalled 38 sacks this season to rank 22nd in NCAA Division II for with 2.92 sacks per game. CSU-Pueblo is 27th in tackles for loss per game (7.8 tflpg, - 456 yards).

Defensive end Morgan Fox, the 2015 runner-up for the Gene Upshaw Award, has 16 sacks this season, which ranks second in NCAA Division II for sacks per game (1.45). 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 senior's 15 solo sacks is second and the -123 sack yards is also second in the country. 

Fox ranks 20th nationally in tackles for loss with 19, as his tackles for loss per game (1.7). 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 77.0 rushing yards per game to sit fourth nationally.

The Pack rank 13th in the NCAA and first in the RMAC in total defense with 292.0 yards allowed per game.

CSU-Pueblo's 3rd down conversion percentage defense is 16th (30.9%).

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 (25.21 yards per return).  

Duncan ranks sixth nationally in kickoff returns with 31.3 yards per return and 27th nationally in punt returns with 10.6 yards per return. He ranks 18th nationally in combined kick returns (777 yards).

Greg O'Donnell is 14-of-17 on field goal attempts (82.4%) and has converted on 62-of-65 extra point attempts.

O'Donnell is the program's scoring leader with 430 points. His 64 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 15-3 (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 4-0 against ranked opponents this season and have won 10 straight against the nation's best. 

Nov. 28, 2015 - W, 26-17 - at (9) Midwestern State !

Nov. 21, 2015 - W, 27-14 - (13) Indianapolis ^

Nov. 7, 2015 - W, 51-20 - (16) Colorado Mesa

Oct. 24, 2015 - W, 49-21 - (7) Colorado Mines

Dec. 20, 2014 - W, 13-0 - (1) Minnesota State %

Dec. 13, 2014 - W, 10-7 - (25) West Georgia $

Dec. 6, 2014 - W, 31-28 - (9) Ohio Dominican #

Nov. 29, 2014 - W, 52-14 - (23) Angelo State !

Oct. 25, 2014 - W, 20-12 - at (11) Colorado Mines 

Sept. 4, 2014 - W, 35-6 - (11) West Texas A&M

Nov. 30, 2013 - L, 34-30 - (22) Grand Valley State !

Oct. 12, 2013 - W, 51-42 - at (21) Chadron State

Dec. 1, 2012 - L, 34-13 - (16) West Texas A&M #

Nov. 24, 2012 - W, 28-7 - (18) Indianapolis !

Aug. 30, 2012 - W, 44-34 - (24) West Texas A&M

Nov. 26, 2011 - L, 24-21 - (9) Minnesota Duluth !

Oct. 15, 2011 - W, 27-14 - at (4) Nebraska-Kearney

Sept. 1, 2011 - W, 26-24 - (19) West Texas A&M

^ - 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 16 tackles (nine solo) through nine games on the defensive line, while Jensen has played in six games (two starts) 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.