PUEBLO, Colo. (September 9, 2016) - The No. 19 Colorado State University-Pueblo football team will host West Texas A&M University, Sept. 10 in the 2016 home opener and Re/Max RED OUT. The contest at Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl is set for 6 p.m.
DEDICATION OF NEW WEIGHT ROOM
At halftime, there will be a short ceremony to thank Friends of Football and name the new 10,000-square-foot weight room at the ThunderBowl
SCOUTING THE PACK
• The ThunderWolves look to rebound from a 57-21 loss at No. 18 Colorado Mines, Sept. 1. The loss by 36 points marked the worst loss since the program restarted in 2008 and was also the first time the Pack dropped the opener and the opening RMAC game in the new era.
• The Pack got out to an 8-0 lead following a 71-yard run by junior Bernard McDondle and a two-point conversion. CSU-Pueblo allowed 36 points in the second quarter, as CSM scored a touchdown on seven straight possessions between the second and start of the third quarters.
• Cole Forsgren (So.) and Austin Micci (R-Fr.) recorded their first-career collegiate touchdowns.
• Inside linebackers Samuel Singleton (Sr.) and Brandon Payer (So.) led the Pack with seven tackles each.
• The loss snapped a five-game win streak against the Orediggers.
• CSU-Pueblo lost back-to-back game for the first time since Oct. 9 and Oct. 16, 2010.
• ThunderWolves will play their 100th game since the re-start in 2008, Saturday. The Pack have accumulated an impressive 80-19 (.808) record in those games.
• Head Coach John Wristen will also be celebrating his 100th game as a head coach Saturday. He is currently the winninest head coach in program history and is nearing the program record of 85 wins, held by Joe Prater (1956-73).
SCOUTING WEST TEXAS A&M:
• The Buffaloes also suffered a season-opening loss Sept. 1, as they traveled to Azusa Pacific and lost, 28-10.
• WT actually out-gained APU 273-242 and totaled more first downs (20-17), but couldn't translate that into points.
• The Buffaloes allowed just 68 passing yards, while totalling 233.
• WT trailed 18-3 early in the third quarter, but a Devon Paye 18-yard run put the road team just one possession away from a tie game. Azusa Pacific added a 45-yard field goal at the end of the third, then put the game away with a touchdown with 3:31 left in the game.
• Much like the ThunderWolves, mistakes and turnovers proved to be a determining factor in the week one loss. The Buffaloes allowed a safety and totaled three turnovers that translated into seven points for their opponent.
• West Texas A&M QB Ethan Brinkley threw for 233 yards, while the team netted just 40 yards rushing.
SERIES HISTORY VERSUS WT:
• The ThunderWolves and Buffaloes have had a short but grizzled rivalry. In five games since 2011, the Pack lead the series 3-2. Game-by-game series history page 3
• WT was the lone regular season loss for the ThunderWolves last season, as the Pack fell 31-30 in Canyon, Texas. A 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown late in the fourth put CSU-Pueblo within one at 31-30, but a failed two-point conversion proved to be the difference in the loss.
• Pack Nation was introduced to AJ Thompson in that game after Malcolm Ruben had to leave the game because of injury and entered redshirt-freshman AJ Thomson. He went 1-for-2 in the game with a six-yard reception and an interception, but would go on to win his next 11 games as the Pack starting quarterback.
• CSU-Pueblo had an uncharacteristic four fumbles (two lost) and two interceptions that game, but the defense totaled four interceptions, two of which were returned for scores.
THE POLLS: CSU-Pueblo was No. 5 in both the AFCA and D2Football.com final 2015 polls. The Pack began the new year with the No. 5 ranking in the AFCA poll and No. 4 by D2Football.com, but after the loss at CSM, they are No. 19 and No. 20, respectfully.
• 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).
• The Pack have been ranked in the AFCA top 25 since Sept. 5, 2011 (21st).
• CSU-Pueblo is the winningest NCAA Division II football program of the decade (2010-15) with a 69-9 (.884) record.
• 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 7-1 overall in 2015 (one playoff win, one loss) and 8-0 (three playoff wins) at home in 2014 for a 15-1 overall record in the last two seasons. Since reinstating the program in 2008, the ThunderWolves are 41-10 (.804) at the ThunderBowl.
• CSU-Pueblo owns a 15-5 (10-4 at home) record versus ranked opponents (Division II) since 2011. That includes a 5-1 record against the nation's top 10. The Pack had won 10 straight against nationally-ranked opponents (6-0 in 2014 and 4-1 in 2015) before the playoff loss to Grand Valley State.
• CSU-Pueblo finished the 2015 season scoring more than 40 points in eight of the 14 games, which included seven straight games. The Pack averaged 36.9 points per game in 2015 to sit 27th nationally. They are 42-0 since 2008 when scoring 35 or more points.
• Big scoring plays were a signature of success last season for the Pack. Nineteen times the ThunderWolves posted a play of 45 yards or more for a score, which included a touchdown in all three areas of the game. Bernard McDondle continued that trend at Colorado Mines with a 71-yard run for a score.
• The defense allowed just 51 points (3.6 ppg) in the second frame in 14 games last season. Colorado Mines put up 36 in the second Sept. 1.
• The Pack scored a touchdown in all facets against WT last season with an 80-yard touchdown run, two interceptions for scores and a 98-yard kick return for a touchdown.
• CSU-Pueblo accumulated five scoring drives of 90 or more yards last season and 16 scoring drives overall of 80 yards or more. 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 80th win against Midwestern State in the NCAA Second Round. He is 80-19 in nine seasons at CSU-Pueblo. He is five victories shy of tying the school's all-time record for wins of 85, which is held by Joe Prater (1956-73).
CSU-PUEBLO POSITION NOTABLES
• Bernard McDondle led NCAA Division II with 8.8 yards per carry. In game one of the 2016 season he posted 150 yards on 16 carries for an average of 9.4 yards per rush.
Last season he rushed for 1,439 yards to rank 10th nationally, while his 14 touchdowns sat 14th and the 110.7 yards per game finished 28th in Division II.
• McDondle owns nine 100-plus yard games in his career, which incldues a career-high 207 yards at Chadron State (Oct. 17, 2015).
• Sophomore quarterback AJ Thompson led the RMAC in pass efficiency at the end of the regular season. He entered the game in week two at West Texas A&M due to injury to starter Malcolm Ruben and went on to win his first 11 starts as a collegiate QB. Thompson finished the season with 1,478 yards and 14 touchdowns with a 145.9 pass efficiency rating and a 57.7 completion percentage.
• Last season the Pack offense scored on 86.3 percent of their red zone chances to rank first in the league and 22nd nationally. The offense went 2-for-2 at Colorado Mines.
• 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 (or turnovers gained) with the nation's best mark in 2014.
• CSU-Pueblo has eight shutouts since 2008 and last season ranked third nationally in scoring defense, as it has allowed 15.8 points per game. The Pack held their opponent to 10 points or less six times last season and are 32-0 since 2008 when doing so.
• In 2015, the Pack defense created 31 turnovers (24 interceptions) to rank 11th in Division II and turned them into 99 points. The 24 interceptions finished third nationally, while the three defensive touchdowns sat 25th in NCAA Division II. CSU-Pueblo didn't gain a turnover in the loss to Colorado Mines.
• The Pack recorded three or more sacks in nine of the 14 games in 2015, but failed to take down the quarterback against Mines.
• The Pack lost defensive end Morgan Fox, the 2015 runner-up for the Gene Upshaw Award, to graduation after he led the nation in sacks per game and established new single season and career records for sacks. He was signed to the Los Angeles Rams practice squad Sept. 4.
• 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 last season the Pack 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 allowed 94.6 rushing yards per game to sit 10th nationally in 2015. CSU-Pueblo allowed 113 yards to the Orediggers in the opener.
• The ThunderWolves are without their top kick returner in Kieren Duncan this season. His 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against West Texas A&M was tied for the third longest in NCAA Division II last season and helped the ThunderWolves sit eighth nationally in kickoff returns (24.72 yards per return).
• Duncan finished 18th nationally in combined kickoff returns with 804 yards.
The Pack will also be without their all-time leading scorer in kicker Greg O'Donnell. He went 14-of-17 on field goal attempts (82.4%) last season and converted on 63-of-66 extra point attempts.
• In addition to replacing their top returner and place kicker, the Pack will also have a new long snapper.
• CSU-Pueblo didn't attempt a field goal in the loss at Colorado Mines and only attempted one extra point.
VS. RANKED SQUADS: CSU-Pueblo owns a 15-5 (10-4 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 went 4-1 against ranked opponents in 2015 and had won 10 straight against the nation's best before the loss to Grand Valley State.
Sept. 1, 2016 - L, 57-21 - (18) at Colorado Mines
Dec. 5, 2015 - L, 31-7 - (12) Grand Valley State #
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 three former players in the NFL. Ryan Jensen (2009-12) enters his fourth season with the Baltimore Ravens and Mike Pennel (2013) is in his third season with the Green Bay Packers. Morgan Fox (2012-15) earned an undrafted free agent contract with the Los Angeles Rams and Sept. 4, earned a spot on the practice squad for the season. Pennel played in 16 games (five starts) for the Packers last season. He totaled 25 tackles (nine solo) with a sack and forced fumble. Jensen played in 11 games (six starts) on the offensive line for the Ravens in 2015. The Pack also have two players in the Canadian Football League (CFL), as C.J. Roberts (2010-14) plays defensive back for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Darius Allen (2011-14) plays defensive line for the British Columbia Lions. Finally, Paul Browning (2010-14) finished his first season in the Arena Football League (AFL) in July with the 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.