PUEBLO, Colo. (November 5, 2016) - The Colorado State University-Pueblo football team hasn't allowed more than 14 points to their opponent in the last five games, all of which have been wins. Saturday at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl, the ThunderWolves defeated Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference newcomer Dixie State University, 24-13.
The Pack (7-3, 7-2 RMAC) are now one win away from a 2016 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference title. CSU-Pueblo will host Chadron State College, Nov. 12 at 2 p.m. and with a win will secure a share of the regular season RMAC championship for the fifth time in the last six years.
Against Dixie State (5-5, 5-4 RMAC), the Pack got it done with a balanced offensive attack and a stingy defensive effort. CSU-Pueblo was outgained 313-268, but moved the ball as efficently as DSU with each team recording 18 first downs. The ThunderWolves totaled 135 yards passing and 133 yards rushing with a touchdown both ways.
Turnovers proved to be key, as the Pack defense came up with their fourth score of the season when Emery Taylor (R-Fr., CB, ) picked up a fumble and returned it 39 yards to the end zone just 44 seconds from halftime. The scoop and score gave the Pack a 21-6 lead at the break.
Four players from the CSU-Pueblo defense recorded double-digit tackle figures, as senior outside linebacker Ryan Merrill (Scottsdale, Ariz.) led the way with 15 (five solo). He also posted a career-high 3.5 tackles for loss (-9 yards). Both senior LaRon Tarkington (S, Phoenix, Ariz.) and sophomore Brandon Payer (ILB, Pine, Colo.) posted 14 tackles (four solo). Sophomore linebacker Noor Shongolo (Commerce City, Colo.) had a career game with 10 tackles (four solo) and two sacks (-9 yards) with a quarterback hurry.
The defense didn't allow a touchdown until there was 4:20 left on the clock in the third quarter. The Pack also tied a season high with four sacks, resulting in a loss of 20 yards.
Tight end Aaron Eckhoff (Jr., Dallas, Texas) was the ThunderWolves' leader in receptions and reception yards with three catches for 49 yards (career-high).
Running backs Austin Micci (R-Fr., Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Fradlet Dort (Sr., Lake Worth, Fla.) combined for 110 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. They each carried the ball 11 times with Micci totalling 56 yards and finding the end zone from 28 yards out and Dort compiling 54 yards.
After quarterback Rex Dausin (Jr., San Antonio, Texas) threw just his second interception in the last five games on the Pack's first possession, DSU marched 49 yards in 10 plays to convert a 38-yard field goal.
For the third time in this five-game win streak, the Pack allowed their opponent to score first, but like the other games, the ThunderWolves immediatly responded. Following a 58-yard kickoff return by Daniel Wise (Sr., WR, Arlington, Texas), CSU-Pueblo went 39 yards to the end zone in six plays. The scoring drive was capped by a junior Zach Boyd (TE, Fort Lupton, Colo.) 15-yard touchdown.
The Trailblazers opened the second quarter with a 6:57 drive that ended with a 40-yard field goal to make the score 7-6.
The Pack again responded to a score and marched 75 yards in 11 plays. The Micci 28-yard run was the endcap to the drive.
Dixie State tried to move the ball in the final minutes of the half, but the Pack defense stood tall and forced the fumble Taylor returned for his second defensive score of the season.
The 21-6 lead remained until DSU scored late in the third to make it 21-13.
Freshman kicker Nathan Taylor (Phoenix, Ariz.) gave the Pack some breathing room with a 22-yard field goal and the lead was 24-13 with three minutes remaining in regulation.
The Trailblazers were able to move the ball into field goal territory in the final minute, but sophomore Deyon Sizer (DL, Aurora, Colo.) blocked the 40-yard attempt with 15 seconds remaining in the game.
The ThunderWolves have blocked four kicks this season and Sizer has two of them.
The Nov. 12 game will serve as senior day, while the ThunderWolves will also honor those who serve and protect our nation with Military Day. Finally, Pack Pantry will again be collecting non-perishable food items at the gate.
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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.