Key RMAC matchup as Pack travel to No. 17 Colorado Mesa Saturday

Key RMAC matchup as Pack travel to No. 17 Colorado Mesa Saturday

PUEBLO, Colo. (September 29, 2016) - The Colorado State University-Pueblo football team heads to No. 17 and undefeated Colorado Mesa University, Oct. 1 for an important Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference contest. The game is set for a 1 p.m. kickoff at Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction, Colo.

LIVE STATS
LIVE VIDEO
LIVE AUDIO (1350 Fox Sports Pueblo)

CSU-PUEBLO (2-2. 2-1 RMAC) GAME NOTES
COLORADO MESA (4-0, 4-0 RMAC) GAME NOTES\

SCOUTING THE PACK
• The ThunderWolves won their second straight game this season and 12th straight against New Mexico Highlands, Sept. 24, when the Pack posted a 61-6 home victory.
• The 61 points was the most since the team rolled to a 66-0 victory against the Cowboys on Oct. 30, 2010. The 66 points is a record for the ThunderWolves since restarting the program in 2008, 61 is second.
• The Pack rushed for 246 yards on 35 attempts (7.0 yards per carry) with eight touchdowns. The eight scores on the ground is also the most since that 66-0 game in 2010.
Redshirt-freshman running back Austin Micci rushed for 130 yards and two scores on 12 carries for a 10.8 yards per carry average.
• CSU-Pueblo returned an interception for a touchdown (Darius Williams - 27 yards) for the second straight game and 26th time since 2008.
Kyle Rosenbrock picked up a fumble caused by Darien Brunson and returned it 54 yards down to the NMHU 6-yard-line. Three plays later the Pack were in the end zone.
Rosenbrock, a redshirt-freshman, led the team with nine tackles (three solo) and added his first-career sack (-13 yards) and 1.5 tackles for loss (-14 yards).
Daniel Wise totaled 91 return yards on five punts, which included an 80 yard return. On one kickoff he gathered 12 yards to compile 103 return yards.
• The Pack own a +3 turnover margin in the two wins after starting the first two games of the season with a -7 margin.
• The Pack have lost two straight to nationally ranked opponents after winning 10 straight against the top 25.

SCOUTING COLORADO MESA
• The Mavericks are the lone undefeated team in the RMAC with a 4-0 record, both overall and in league play.
• CMU is coming off a pair of close road wins, as they defeated then-No. 10 Colorado Mines, 41-40 in overtime on a blocked extra point. They then traveled to Fort Lewis and used 17 unanswered fourth quarter points, which included a  bad snap on a punt to score a go-ahead touchdown, to win 34-28.
• Colorado Mesa is one of seven teams in NCAA Division II that has not thrown an interception. CMU has intercepted seven passes to rank 17th in Division II and with a +9 (2.25 per game) turnover margin rank first in the league and sixth nationally.
• The Mavericks are second in the conference in scoring with 38.5 points per game, while their defense sits sixth after allowing 28.8 points through four games.
• The Colorado Mesa offense runs through quarterback Sean Rubalcaba, who is second in the conference with 302.2 passing yards per game. He has seven touchdowns through the air.
• Marcus Cross leads the team and ranks tied for sixth in tackles with 35 (16 solo). Blake Nelson owns 30 tackles (13 solo) with 6.0 tackles for loss (-20 yards) and 4.5 sacks (-18 yards).
• Ryan Sheehan leads NCAA Division II with 2.5 field goals per game, while his 10-for-12 (83 percent) effort is No. 19.

SERIES HISTORY VERSUS CMU
• The ThunderWolves trall the all-time series with the Mavericks 16-17-5.
• The Pack have won six consecutive games and in that run have outscored CMU 238-60 (39.7-10).
• CSU-Pueblo is 6-3 all-time on the road against Colorado Mesa, which includes a 52-3 victory in 2014.
• Last season the Pack defeated the then-No. 16 Mavericks 51-20.

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 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).

TEAM NOTES
• CSU-Pueblo is the second winningest NCAA Division II football program of the decade (2010-16) with  a 71-10 (.877) record.
• Since reinstating the program in 2008, the ThunderWolves are 43-11 (.796) 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 (Sept. 1) with a 71-yard run for a score, then Emery Taylor returned an interception 85 yards for a touchdown against South Dakota Mines (Sept. 17).
• 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 46-39 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 eighth nationally in fewest penalties with 16. CSU-Pueblo is second in the RMAC (ASU with 15). They also sit eighth in fewest penalties per game (4.0) and 15th in fewest penalty yards (164).
• 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 (82-20, .804) and is nearing the program record of 85 wins, held by Joe Prater (1956-73).

CSU-PUEBLO POSITION NOTABLES
OFFENSE
• Despite missing two games, Bernard McDondle leads the team 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 (doesn't qualify for national stats due to games played).
• 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).
Austin Micci's 6.6 rush yards per carry is 24th nationally.
• The ThunderWolves totaled eight rushing touchdowns against New Mexico Highlands to match the output of the Pack versus NMHU in 2010, as the most since the restart of the program.
• 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 12-for-13 (92.3%) this season to sit second in the RMAC and 20th in NCAA Division II.
• Junior Rex Dausin earned his first start Sept. 17 and threw 16-for-21, a 63.3 completion percentage. This season his 68.5 percentage is 14th nationally.
• The ThunderWolves sit 13th nationally in least tackles for loss allowed with 4.0 per game.

DEFENSE
• 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 five turnovers this season (three interceptions, two fumble recoveries) and turned them into 26 points.
• The ThunderWolves have a pick six in back-to-back games and since 2008 have totaled 26 interception returns for a touchdown. The most in a season is five by the 2014 and 2010 squads. The Pack are 13th in NCAA Division II in defensive TD's.
Darius Williams has returned an interception for a score in back-to-back seasons.
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 again leads the league and sits No. 14 nationally this season after allowing 85.3 yards on the ground in the first four games.
• Linebacker Brandon Payer ranks tied for sixth in the conference in tackles with 35 (18 solo). His four tackles for loss (-8 yards) is tied for ninth, while linebacker Ryan Merrill's 3.5 tackles for loss (-10 yards) is tied for 13th.
• Cornerback Emery Taylor is third in the RMAC with two interceptions, while his three passes defended is tied for 19th in the league with teammate LaRon Tarkington.

SPECIAL TEAMS   
• The Pack ranks tied for 19th nationally with two blocked kicks, but have also allowed two to be blocked.  
• The ThunderWolves have the third most yards per punt return in the RMAC with 16.9 yards, which also ranks 18th nationally.
• CSU-Pueblo sits 29th nationally in kickoff returns with 24.4 yards per return. The kickoff return defense is 23rd in NCAA Division II after allowing 16.7 yards per return.
Daniel Wise sits 17th nationally in punt returns with 17.0 and 51st in kickoff returns with 26.4 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 three 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. Wide receiver Kieren Duncan (2012-15) signed onto the practice squad with Winnipeg Sept. 27. 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.