Pack football heads to Alamosa for RMAC showdown

PUEBLO, Colo. (October 6, 2016) - The Colorado State University-Pueblo football team will head to Alamosa, Colorado Oct. 8 to battle Adams State University in a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference contest set to kickoff at 1 p.m.

LIVE AUDIO (1350 Fox Sports Pueblo)


• The ThunderWolves lost their third game of the season for the first time since 2009, as they went on the road and suffered a 20-19 setback to then-No. 17 Colorado Mesa.
• The Pack led the entire game and owned a 13-3 lead at the half and a 16-3 advantage early in the third. The loss marked fifth time since 2008 the team had lost when owning a halftime lead.
• Down 20-19 with 54 seconds remaining, the Josh Johnson blocked a CMU punt to give the Pack the ball at the home team's 40-yard-line. Three plays later they were at the two yard line. A quarterback sneak appeared to be in the end zone for the go-ahead score, but the ball was spotted at the half yard line with 11 ticks left. Another QB keeper didn't cross the goal line and time expired for a one-point loss.
• The Pack defense totaled two interceptions on a Maverick squad that was just one of seven teams without a pick through the first four games. Both interceptions led to points for the ThunderWolves. CSU-Pueblo recorded two sacks and held the league's second best scoring offense (38.5 ppg entering Saturday) in check.
• The Pack offense ran 16 more plays and totaled 410 yards to CMU's 352 yards. The ThunderWolves racked up 202 yards on the ground and allowed just 65. CSU-Pueblo also held the ball for 12 more minutes (36:00-24:00).
• After starting his collegiate career 2-of-5 on field goal attempts, freshman Nathan Taylor was a highlight for the Pack, as he made his first three field goals and went 4-for-5 in the game. He hit from 33-, 41-, 25- and 25-yards out with the lone miss coming in the fourth from 36.
• After missing two games because of injury, Bernard McDondle returned and rushed for 188 yards on 30 carries (6.3 ypc). He recorded a long run of 73 yards.
• Senior outside linebacker Ryan Merrill led the team with 10 tackles (six solo) and brought in the first interception of the season for the Mavericks.
• The Pack own a +4 turnover margin in the last three games after starting the first two games of the season with a -7 margin.
• The Pack have now lost three straight to nationally ranked opponents after winning the previous 10 straight against the top 25.

• The Grizzlies are 1-4 overall with the same mark in league play. ASU's lone win came at home Sept. 24 against Chadron State, 31-30.
• Adams State fell to South Dakota Mines 62-35 on the road last week. S.D. School of Mines  racked up 615 yards of total offense while going 6-for-6 on scoring opportunities inside the red zone.
• The Grizzlies are averaging 28 points per game to sit seventh in the league, but are allowing 40.6 to rank 10th.
• Quarterback Jorge Hernandez is ninth in the conference in total offense with 173.2 yards per game.
• ASU is second in the RMAC in kickoff returns with 23.8 yards per attempt.
Addie Brown leads NCAA Division II in combined kick returns with 520 yards.
• John Reed is the RMAC leader in tackles with 53, while Morris Gilbert is second with 52. Wesley Brandon has forced and recovered two fumbles this season.

• The ThunderWolves lead the all-time series with Adams State 20-10-2.
• The Pack have won seven consecutive games and in that run have outscored the Grizzlies 239-42 (34.1-7.0).
• Last season the Pack went to Alamosa and posted a 56-0 victory. CSU-Pueblo racked up 592 yards of offense (386 rushing) and allowed 254 (10 rushing).
• The defense recorded six interceptions to establish a new program record. Darius Williams totaled two picks, which included a 53-yard return for a score.

• CSU-Pueblo was No. 5 in both the AFCA and final 2015 polls. The Pack began the new year with the No. 5 ranking in the AFCA poll and No. 4 by, 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).

• Since reinstating the program in 2008, the ThunderWolves are 43-11 (.796) at the ThunderBowl.
• CSU-Pueblo owns a 15-6 (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 ThunderWolves are winning the opening quarter 31-6 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 three drives of 80 or more yards.
• 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.
• Twice the ThunderWolves have lost this season after totaling 200 or more rushing yards. Those losses are the only two since 2008, as the Pack own a 45-2 record in that time span.
• The Pack have a 64-7 record since 2008 when scoring first, but have lost twice in 2016 when placing the first points on the board.
• Head Coach John Wristen celebrated his 100th game as a head coach Sept. 10. He is currently the winninest head coach in program history (82-21, .796) and is nearing the program record of 85 wins, held by Joe Prater (1956-73).

• Despite missing two games, Bernard McDondle leads the team and ranks fourth in the RMAC in rushing yards with 477. After leading NCAA Division II last season in rushing yards per carry, McDondle owns 7.3 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 11 100-plus yard games in his career, which includes a career-high 207 yards at Chadron State (Oct. 17, 2015) and all three games played this season.
• 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 16-for-19 (84.2%) this season to sit third in the RMAC.
• Junior Rex Dausin earned his first start Sept. 17 and threw 16-for-21, a 63.3 completion percentage. This season his 63.2 percentage is 32nd nationally.
• The ThunderWolves sit 23rd nationally in least tackles for loss allowed with 4.4 per game.

• 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 seven turnovers this season (five interceptions, two fumble recoveries) and turned them into 32 points.
• The ThunderWolves had a pick six in back-to-back games (Sept. 17 and 24) 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 19th 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 again leads the league and sits No. 10 nationally this season after allowing 81.2 yards on the ground in the first five games.
• The Pack lead the conference in total defense, as they have allowed 340.4 yards per game. The scoring defense is also best in the RMAC with 23.8 points allowed per game.
• Linebacker Brandon Payer ranks tied for ninth in the conference in tackles with 40 (20 solo). His five tackles for loss (-11 yards) is tied for eighth, while linebacker Ryan Merrill's 4.5 tackles for loss (-11 yards) is tied for 10th.
• Cornerback Emery Taylor is third in the RMAC with two interceptions.
With four pass defended starting safeties LaRon Tarkington and Joseph Jones sit tied for 16th in the RMAC.

• The Pack ranks tied for 11th nationally with three blocked kicks, but have also allowed two to be blocked.  
• CSU-Pueblo leads the RMAC and sits 21st nationally in kickoff returns with 25.3 yards per return. The kickoff return defense is 32nd in NCAA Division II after allowing 17.95 yards per return.
• The ThunderWolves have the third most yards per punt return in the RMAC with 15.3 yards, which also ranks 22nd nationally.
Daniel Wise sits 16th nationally in punt returns with 15.1 yards per return and 15th in kickoff returns with 30.6 yards per return. He ranks second in the league in both those categories. His 320 combined return yards is fifth in the league and 44th nationally.

#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.
• The Winnipeg Blue Bombers play the BC Lions Saturday, Oct. 8, which will see a combined three former Pack players on the two rosters.

VS. RANKED SQUADS: CSU-Pueblo owns a 15-6 (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.

Oct. 1, 2016 - L, 20-19 - (17) at Colorado Mesa    
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

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.