PUEBLO, Colo. (September 22, 2016) – The Colorado State University-Pueblo football team concludes a three-game homestand, Saturday, Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. when the Pack host Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference-foe New Mexico Highlands University at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl.
SCOUTING THE PACK
• The ThunderWolves are coming off a 37-10 home victory against South Dakota Mines.
The Pack earned their first win of the season after starting the year 0-2 for just the sixth time in program history.
• CSU-Pueblo moved the ball efficiently with junior Rex Dausin under center for his first collegiate start, as the ThunderWolves totaled 400 yards of offense.
• Defensively, the Pack held the Hardrockers to 74 yards rushing and Emery Taylor brought in the team's first two interceptions of the season. The first came in the second quarter and was returned 85 yards to the end zone to give the Pack a 9-0 lead.
• Taylor, a redshirt freshman making his first collegiate start, also added six tackles (three solo) and was named RMAC Defensive Player of the Week.
• The Pack won the second quarter 13-0 against South Dakota Mines after being outscored a combined 46-0 in that frame the first two games.
SCOUTING NEW MEXICO HIGHLANDS
• The Cowboys are 0-3 to start the season and have been outscored 49.3-10.3 (148-31) this season.
• NMHU has totaled more than triple the offensive yardage through the air than on the ground, as they average 215.7 yards passing and just 68.3 yards rushing.
• Despite allowing 566.3 yards per game, the Cowboys have dominated the time of possession this season by nearly 10 minutes (34:49-25:11).
• Cody Keith has started all three games at quarterback for New Mexico Highlands and has compiled 647 yards and three touchdowns with just one interceptions in 110 attempts. His favorite target is Vincent Venegas, who owns 14 receptions for 157 yards.
• Defensively, the team has totaled four interceptions and forced and recovered three fumbles to sit tied for second in the league in turnovers gained.
• Jake Harrelson leads the team in tackles with 21 (8 solo), while Eric Smith owns 18 tackles (10 solo) with 1.5 tackles for loss (-7 yards) and an interception.
SERIES HISTORY VERSUS NMHU
• The ThunderWolves are 16-5 all-time against the Cowboys. The Pack have won 11 consecutive games and since 2008 have outscored NMHU 314-127.
• CSU-Pueblo is 8-3 all-time at home versus New Mexico Highlands.
• 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 consecutive losses to start the season, The ThunderWolves dropped out of both top 25's.
• The Pack ranked in the AFCA top 25 for 66 consecutive polls ranging from Sept. 5, 2011 (21st) to Sept. 5, 2016 (19th).
• 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 is the second winningest NCAA Division II football program of the decade (2010-16) with a 70-10 (.875) record.
• Since reinstating the program in 2008, the ThunderWolves are 42-11 (.792) 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.
• 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, then Emery Taylor returned an interception 85 yards for a touchdown.
• 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 have been outscored 46-13 in the second quarter this season.
• CSU-Pueblo accumulated five scoring drives of 90 or more yards last season and 16 scoring drives overall of 80 yards or more. This season the Pack have two drives of 80 or more yards.
• The Pack rank 23rd nationally in fewest penalties with 15. CSU-Pueblo is third in the RMAC (leaders with 12).
• ThunderWolves played their 100th game since the re-start in 2008, Sept. 10. The Pack accumulated an impressive 80-20 (.800) record in those first 100 games.
• Head Coach John Wristen celebrated his 100th game as a head coach Sept. 10. He is currently the winninest head coach in program history (81-20, .802) and is nearing the program record of 85 wins, held by Joe Prater (1956-73).
CSU-PUEBLO POSITION NOTABLES
• Despite missing a game, Bernard McDondle is 39th nationally in rushing yards with 289. After leading NCAA Division II last season in rushing yards per carry, McDondle owns 8.26 yards per attempt in 2016.
• 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 10 100-plus yard games in his career, which includes a career-high 207 yards at Chadron State (Oct. 17, 2015).
• 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 is 6-for-7 (84%) this season.
• Junior Rex Dausin earned his first start Sept. 17 and threw 16-for-21, a 63.3 completion percentage that ranks 41st nationally.
• The Pack have been one of the most stingiest and unforgiving defenses in the nation the past five seasons. Since 2011, the ThunderWolves have finished the season in the top 22 nationally 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.
• 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 has gained three turnovers this season (two interceptions, fumble recovery), but owns a -6 turnover margin, which is tied for last in the RMAC.
• The Pack recorded three or more sacks in nine of the 14 games in 2015, but have just two this season.
• 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 ranks third in the league and No. 26 nationally this season after allowing 96.3 yards on the ground in the first three games.
• Linebacker Brandon Payer ranks tied for second in the conference in tackles with 30 (17 solo). His four tackles for loss (-8 yards) is tied for third, while linebacker Ryan Merrill's 3.5 tackles for loss (-10 yards) is tied for sixth.
• The Pack ranks tied for 11th nationally with two blocked kicks, but have also allowed two to be blocked.
• CSU-Pueblo ranks 26th nationally in kickoff returns with 26.2 yards per return. The kickoff defense is 10th in NCAA Division II after allowing 15.6 yards per return.
• The ThunderWolves have the third most yards per punt return in the RMAC with 14.0 yards, which also ranks 33rd nationally.
• Daniel Wise sits 24th nationally in kickoff returns with 30.0 yards per return.
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.
STREAKS: 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.
The Pack recorded 28 consecutive regular season home victories from a 66-0 win against New Mexico Highlands Oct. 30, 2010 to a 51-20 win against Colorado Mesa Nov. 7, 2015.
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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.