RMAC title on the line in season finale Saturday at the ThunderBowl

PUEBLO, Colo. (November 11, 2016) - The Colorado State University-Pueblo football team hosts Chadron State College Saturday, Nov. 12 in the regular season finale at 2 p.m. A win would secure a fifth Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference title in the last six years for the ThunderWolves.

Food Drive: The CSU-Pueblo Pack Pantry will be collecting non-perishable food at the gates. The first 1,000 donations will recieve a Pack Athletics sticker.

Senior Day: The ThunderWolves will celebrate 19 senior student-athletes and four members of the cheer and dance team before the game.

Military Day: The CSU-Pueblo Athletics Department is proud to announce Military Appreciation Day, Saturday, November 12 at 2 p.m. at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl. All active duty and military veterans will receive a free ticket (with Military ID) and four additional tickets for immediate family members. Tickets can be claimed Nov. 7-10 at the Massari Arena Ticket Office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.   

CSU-Pueblo Athletics will be honoring all active and military veterans during the game with a special public service announcement. A special flyover from Doss Aviation during the playing of the National Anthem will also be featured.

LIVE AUDIO (1350 Fox Sports Pueblo)


• CSU-Pueblo hasn't allowed more than 14 points to their opponent in the last five games, all of which have been wins. Nov. 5, the ThunderWolves defeated RMAC newcomer Dixie State, 24-13.
• The Pack (7-3, 7-2 RMAC) need a win against Chadron State to secure a share of the 2016 RMAC title.
• 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 efficiently 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 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.
• Senior outside linebacker Ryan Merrill led the defense with 15 tackles (five solo). He also posted a career-high 3.5 tackles for loss (-9 yards). The effort earned him the Pack's fourth straight RMAC Defensive Player of the Week award.
• 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 was the ThunderWolves' leader in receptions and reception yards with three catches for 49 yards (career-high).
• Running backs Austin Micci and Fradlet Dort combined for 110 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.
• The ThunderWolves were ranked No. 10 in the final NCAA Super Region Four rankings this week. The top seven teams advance to the playoffs.

• The Eagles are 3-7 overall and 3-6 in RMAC play.
• Chadron State lost to Black Hills State last week, 21-19. QB Matt Vinson threw two interceptions for touchdowns and a third pick was converted into a touchdown by the Yellow Jacket offense.
• CSC outgained BHSU 408-278 (300 yards passing) and scored 16 points in the fourth quarter, but the turnovers were too much to overcome for the Eagles.
• Chadron State ranks fifth in the league in scoring defense with 28.1 points allowed per game. The Eagles are first in pass defense, allowing 184.8 yards per game
• The offense owns 219 yards per game passing to rank fifth in the league. They are sixth in the RMAC in scoring offense with 29.2 points per game.
• Vinson is third in the conference with 211.0 passing yards per game. He has 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions this season.
• Joey Hopkins leads the team and ranks seventh in the RMAC in tackles with 67 (36 solo). Keenan Johnson owns 66 tackles (35 solo), 7.5 TFL (-15 yards) and two sacks (-6 yards).

• The ThunderWolves are 7-1 all-time against the Eagles. The Pack are on a seven-game win streak, which includes three wins at the ThunderBowl.
• Last season on the road, CSU-Pueblo won 48-10 behind  619 yards of offense, which included 452 on the ground. The ThunderWolves were down 10-0 after the first quarter, but rattled off seven rushing scores in the final three frames to run away with the win.

• 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)

• Since reinstating the program in 2008, the ThunderWolves are 45-11 (.804) 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. Ranking history since 2011 page 3
• 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:
    • Bernard McDondle with 71-yard run at Colorado Mines (Sept. 1)
    • 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,
    • Daniel Wise and Rex Dausin connected for a 43-yard pass and catch score vs ASU.
• 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 in the opener Sept. 1. Since then, the Pack have allowed just 27 points in the second and are leading their opponents 119-63.
• The ThunderWolves are winning the opening quarter 76-28 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 eight drives of 80 or more yards.
• 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 65-7 record since 2008 when scoring first, but have lost twice in 2016 when placing the first points on the board. Four wins this season have come when the opponent has scored first.

• Running back Bernard McDondle is out for the season due to an injury suffered Oct. 15 after compiling 759 rushing yards in five games. After leading NCAA Division II last season in rushing yards per carry, McDondle recorded 8.9 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 (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.
• Even without their top back, the Pack rank 34th in NCAA Division II in rushing with 199.5 yards per game. They are seventh in the league.
• Last season the Pack offense scored on 86.8 percent of their red zone chances to rank second in the league and 24th nationally. The offense is 33-for-38 (86.8%) this season to sit second in the RMAC and 24th in Division II.
• Junior Rex Dausin earned his first start Sept. 17 and threw 16-for-21, a 63.3 completion percentage. This season his 62.5 percentage is 33rd nationally and fourth in the RMAC. He ranks fifth in the league in passing efficiency with a 141.0 mark.
• The ThunderWolves sit 13th nationally in least tackles for loss allowed with 4.3 per game.
With 32.0 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.
• CSU-Pueblo has gained 16 turnovers this season (11 interceptions, five fumble recoveries) and turned them into 60 points.
• The ThunderWolves had a pick six in back-to-back games (Sept. 17 and 24) and have three this season (Oct. 8). Since 2008, the Pack have totaled 27 interception returns for a touchdown. The most in a season is five by the 2010 and 2014 squads. The Pack are 11th in NCAA Division II in defensive TD's with four.
• Both LaRon Tarkington and Darius Williams have 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 20 more occasions. The ThunderWolves held Adams State (Oct. 8) to just 15 yards this season and Black Hills State (Oct. 22) to only 35 yards.
• 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 81.7 yards on the ground.
• The Pack lead the conference in total defense (26th nationally), as they have allowed 316.8 yards per game.
• The scoring defense is 16th nationally and tied for the best in the RMAC with 17.7 points allowed per game.
• Inside linebacker Brandon Payer ranks second in the conference in most tackles with 93 (38 solo). His 9.5 tackles for loss (-18 yards) is tied for ninth, while his three forced fumbles is tied for second in the league.
• Outside linebacker Ryan Merrill's 76 tackles (30 solo) is 13th and his 11.5 tackles for loss (-28 yards) is tied for second.
• Sophomore defensive lineman Brock Davies has five sacks to lead the team and rank seventh in the RMAC.
• Tarkington and Williams each have nine passes defended to rank tied for ninth in the conference.
• Emery Taylor's three interceptions ranks tied for fourth most in the league.

• Daniel Wise is 10th nationally and second in the RMAC in punt returns with 14.4 yards per game. He leads the RMAC and ranks ninth in kickoff returns with 31.1 yards per return. His 618 combined return yards is fifth in the league and 39th in NCAA Division II.
• CSU-Pueblo ranks second in the RMAC in kickoff returns with 22.5 yards per return, while the kick return defense is also second after allowing 18.7 yards per return.
• The ThunderWolves have the fourth most yards per punt return in the RMAC with 14.2 yards, which also ranks 23rd nationally.
• The Pack ranks tied for first in the RMAC with four  blocked kicks, two of them were punts, which ranks them tied for first in the league and 20th nationally.  
• Freshman kicker Nathan Taylor is second in the conference in field goals per game (.90) and second in field goal percentage (8-for-12, 69.2%). His 64 points in third among the league's kickers.

#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 and earned a spot on the practice squad to start the 2016 season. He was promoted to the active roster Oct. 8 and played his first NFL snap Oct. 9 before being sent back to the practice squad Oct. 11. 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.