ThunderWolves battle Skyhawks in annual Homecoming game

PUEBLO, Colo. (October 14, 2016) - The Colorado State University-Pueblo football team will host Fort Lewis College Oct. 15 in the annual Homecoming game at Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl. The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference contest is set for 2 p.m. and also serves as the CSU-Pueblo Athletics Hall of Fame Game.

LIVE AUDIO (1350 Fox Sports Pueblo)


• The ThunderWolves are coming off a 56-12 road victory at Adams State to improve to 3-3 overall and 3-2 in RMAC play.
• The Pack totaled a program record 645 yards of offense in the win.
• The ThunderWolves recorded 394 of those yards on the ground, guided by a 276 yard effort by junior Bernard McDondle.
• McDondle set a career-high with that yard total and found the end zone four times. He averaged 15.3 yards per carry and was named RMAC (Offensive) and NFFCC Player of the Week for his efforts.
• McDondle owns 753 rushing yards this season and despite missing two games sits 14th nationally in the category.
• The defense held the Grizzlies to 15 yards rushing to improve to a 70.2 rushing yards allowed per game this season, which ranks fifth nationally.  
• Senior safety LaRon Tarkington recorded two interceptions, the second he took to the house from 22 yards out to post the third pick six for the Pack in 2016. CSU-Pueblo ranks tied for seventh nationally in defensive touchdowns.
• Senior linebacker Ryan Merrill totaled eight tackles to lead the team for the third time in the last four weeks.

• The Skyhawks are 1-5 overall and in conference play. FLC is coming off a 13-6 Homecoming loss to Western State.
• Turnovers have been an issue for Fort Lewis this season and that was no different against the Mountaineers, as all 13 points were results of a turnover.
• The Skyhawks are last in the league in turnover margin at -10 with 16 giveaways (8 fumbles, 8 INTs) and just six takeaways (4 fumbles, 2 INTs).
• Fort Lewis ranks second in the league in total defense (352.3 ypg) and rushing defense (119.5 ypg) and sits fourth in scoring defense (27.0 ppg).
• FLC leads the RMAC in time of possession with 33:39, is seventh in total offense with 404.7 yards per game, but ranks second to last in scoring with 22.7 points per contest.
• Drake Griffin leads the team and ranks fourth in the RMAC in rushing with 704 yards (117.3 ypg).
• QB Bo Coleman is second in the league in passing efficiency with a mark of 172.3.
• LB Andrew Ike's 50 tackles (19 solo) sits tied for sixth in the conference.

• The ThunderWolves lead the all-time series with Fort Lewis 35-16.
• The Pack have won four consecutive home games against FLC and are 8-1 since the restart of the program in 2008.
• CSU-Pueblo is 5-0 against the Skyhawks on Homecoming, which includes last season's 45-9 victory.
• The Pack rushed for 311 yards and four touchdowns in the win, while Bernard McDondle totaled 114 yards and two scores. The CSU-Pueblo defense held FLC scoreless in the second half and allowed just 221 yards of offense.

• 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)

• The ThunderWolves are 24-6 all-time on Homecoming, while the Pack have won all eight annual celebration games since 2008.
• CSU-Pueblo will introduce its 2016 class of the Athletics Hall of Fame at halftime Saturday. This year includes Thomas Calhoun (Men's Tennis, 1995-98), Monica Hashiguchi (Softball, 1999-2000), Cindy Pool (Women's Track and Field, 1981-83), Tommie Robinson (Men's Basketball, 1988-92), Don Schmidli (Four-Sport Athlete, 1946-48), Joe Prater (Football Coach, 1956-73) and the 1971-72 and 1972-73 men's golf teams.

• 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. CSU-Pueblo has five scores of 40 yards or more this season, as 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). McDondle recorded 43 and 80 yard rushing touchdowns at Adams State, while Daniel Wise was on the receiving end of a 43 yard touchdown from a Rex Dausin pass.
• 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 retaken the quarter and are leading their opponents 70-46 in the second.
• The ThunderWolves are winning the opening quarter 45-12 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 four 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 (83-21, .798) and is nearing the program record of 85 wins, held by Joe Prater (1956-73).

• Despite missing two games, Bernard McDondle sits 14th nationally and ranks fourth in the RMAC in rushing yards with 753. After leading NCAA Division II last season in rushing yards per carry, McDondle owns 9.1 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 12 100-plus yard games in his career (all four games this season), which includes a career-high 247 yards at Adams State (Oct. 8, 2016).
• 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.
• The Pack rank 20th in NCAA Division II in rushing with 228.3 yards per game.
• 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 19-for-23 (83%) 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 63.8 percentage is 30th nationally and third in the RMAC.
• The ThunderWolves sit 25th nationally in least tackles for loss allowed with 4.67 per game.
With 34.0 points per game, the Pack are fourth in the RMAC.

• 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 nine turnovers this season (seven interceptions, two fumble recoveries) and turned them into 39 points..
• The ThunderWolves had a pick six in back-to-back games (Sept. 17 and 24) and have three this season (Ict. 8). Since 2008, the Pack have totaled 27 interception returns for a touchdown. The most in a season is five by the 2014 and 2010 squads. The Pack are seventh in NCAA Division II in defensive TD's.
• Both LaRon Tarkington and 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 19 more occasions. The ThunderWolves held Adams State (Oct. 8) to just 15 yards this season.
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 fifth nationally this season after allowing 70.2 yards on the ground in the first six games.
• The Pack lead the conference in total defense, as they have allowed 349.3 yards per game. The scoring defense is also best in the RMAC with 21.8 points allowed per game.
• Linebacker Brandon Payer ranks tied for 10th in the conference in tackles with 44 (23 solo). His 6.5 tackles for loss (-13 yards) is tied for sixth, while linebacker Ryan Merrill's 40 tackles (18 solo) is tied for 18th and his 5.5 tackles for loss (-11 yards) is tied for 11th.
• Tarkington has seven passes defended (two interceptions) to rank tied for fourth in the conference.

• The Pack ranks tied for 18th nationally with three blocked kicks, but have also allowed two to be blocked.  
• CSU-Pueblo ranks second in the RMAC in kickoff returns with 22.7 yards per return.
• The ThunderWolves have the third most yards per punt return in the RMAC with 16.3 yards, which also ranks 17th nationally.
Daniel Wise leads the RMAC and ranks 27th in kickoff returns with 27.4 yards per return. His 353 combined return yards is fifth in the league.
• Freshman kicker Nathan Taylor is second in the conference in field goals per game (1.0) and third in field goal percentage (6-for-10, 60%).

#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) signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Los Angeles Rams and Sept. 4, earned a spot on the practice squad and then was promoted to the active roster Oct. 8. He played his first NFL snap Oct. 9. 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.

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.