PUEBLO, Colo. (September 6, 2017) - The No. 7 Colorado State University-Pueblo football team travels to West Texas A&M University Sept. 9 for a 5 p.m. (MT) regional showdown.
• The ThunderWolves are ranked No. 7 in both AFCA and D2Football.com polls.
• The Pack have lost two straight to the Buffs, which includes a 31-30 loss in Canyon in 2015 and a home loss in 2016 by the score of 26-10.
• All-time, the ThunderWolves and Buffs have an even series record at 3-3.
• The contest features an interesting match-up with former ThunderWolves defensive coordinator (of nine years), Hunter Hughes now serving as head coach of West Texas A&M.
SCOUTING THE PACK
• The ThunderWolves avenged a 2016 loss to Colorado Mines by defeating the then-No. 16 Orediggers by the score of 38-7 Thursday at the ThunderBowl.
• The Pack were extremely balanced on the offensive side of the ball with 37 carries for 237 yards and 28 passing attempts for 228 yards. Four touchdowns came from the air, while one was on the ground.
• Sophomore RB Austin Micci totaled 99 yards of offense and scored a receiving and rushing touchdown.
• The ThunderWolves defense created two turnovers, both interceptions. The first interception turned the momentum back to the Pack and set up a one-play, 17-yard drive to the end zone.
• Senior DE Josh Croy was named RMAC Defensive Player of the Week after guiding the defense with 10 tackles, included two for loss (-3 yards).
• The ThunderWolves were 5-for-5 in the red zone with four touchdowns and a 26-yard field goal from the new kicker, R-Fr. Mitchell Carter. Last season the ThunderWolves ranked No. 18 nationally with a red zone scoring rate of 87.5 percent.
SCOUTING WEST TEXAS A&M
• The Buffs are coming off a 24-13 loss at home to then-No. 13 Azusa Pacific. WT trailed 17-13 late, after two fourth quarter field goals put the home team within four. With under three minutes remaining, a fumble by the Buffs at midfield was taken 46 yards to the end zone to cap the win for the ranked Cougars.
• RB Warren Witherspoon totaled 124 of his career-high 138 rushing yards in the second half. The Buffs rushed for 223 yards.
• DB Chazz Slatinsky totaled eight tackles and one breakup, while DL Daelin Young had six tackles with two sacks (-15 yards) and three tackles for loss (-16 yards).
• WT was seventh in the Lone Star preseaon poll.
• CSU-Pueblo wasn't ranked at the end of a season for the first time since 2012 last year. The Pack entered the 2017 ranked No. 12 in both the AFCA and D2Football.com polls and are No. 7 this week.
• 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 47-11 (.810) at the ThunderBowl.
• CSU-Pueblo owns a 16-6 (11-4 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
• Last season the Pack lead their opponents 132-63 in the second quarter. The ThunderWolves totaled 21 first half points against Colorado Mines with 14 coming in the second.
• CSU-Pueblo accumulated eight drives of 80 or more yards in 2016. The Pack totaled two 75-yard or more drives against the Orediggers.
• The Pack have a 66-7 record since 2008 when scoring first.
• Since 2008, CSU-Pueblo is undefeated when scoring 35 or more points (48-0) and when allowing 10 points or less (36-0).
CSU-PUEBLO POSITION NOTABLES
• Running back Bernard McDondle returned to the lineup after playing in just five games last season where he still led the team with 759 rushing yards. McDondle recorded 8.9 yards per attempt in 2016.
• He totaled 53 yards on nine carries and 58 recieving yards on two catches to total 111 yards against Orediggers.
• McDondle owns 12 100-plus yard games in his career (four games last season), which includes a career-high 247 yards at Adams State (Oct. 8, 2016).
• Even without their top back, the Pack ranked 35th in NCAA Division II in rushing with 195.8 yards per game. They opened the year with 237 yards rushing against the Orediggers. Sophomore Austin Micci led the team against CSM with 65 yards and a score.
• In his first NCAA Division II start, junior QB Brandon Edwards went 13-for-19 (68.4%) for 152 yards and two touchdowns.
• The ThunderWolves finished the 2016 season 12th nationally in least tackles for loss allowed with 4.36 per game. CSU-Pueblo has five seniors on the offensive line this season.
• 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) in all but one season in that span with the nation's best mark in 2014.
• The 2016 scoring defense was 11th nationally and second best in the RMAC with 17.4 points allowed per game. CSU-Pueblo started off on the right foot against Mines, allowing just seven points.
• CSU-Pueblo gained 21 turnovers last season (14 interceptions, seven fumble recoveries) and turned them into 81 points. The Pack have two interceptions in 2017 with seven points resulting in those picks.
• The ThunderWolves had a pick six in back-to-back games (Sept. 17 and 24) and totalled four in 2016 (Oct. 8 and Nov. 12). Since 2008, the Pack have totaled 28 interception returns for a touchdown. The most in a season is five by the 2010 and 2014 squads. The Pack finished 10th in NCAA Division II in defensive TD's with five last season.
• Junior Darius Williams has returned an interception for a score in his first two 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. Last season, 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.
• CSU-Pueblo led the league and finished seventh nationally last season after allowing 84.1 yards on the ground.
• The Pack led the conference in total defense (19th nationally), as they allowed 305.9 yards per game.
• Junior inside linebacker Brandon Payer finished tied for second in the conference in most tackles with 103 (40 solo). His 10.5 tackles for loss (-19 yards) is tied for seventh, while his three forced fumbles tied for second in the league.
• Williams recorded 14 passes defended to rank tied for third in the conference.
• Emery Taylor's three interceptions ranked tied for fifth most in the league.
• In 2016, CSU-Pueblo ranked third in the RMAC in kickoff returns with 21.7 yards per return, while the kick return defense was fifth after allowing 19.5 yards per return.
• The ThunderWolves compiled the third most yards per punt return in the RMAC last season with 15.1 yards, which ranked 12th nationally.
• The Pack were third in the RMAC with four blocked kicks, two of them were punts, which ranked them tied for first in the league and 24th nationally.
• CSU-Pueblo blocked a punt in the win against Colorado Mines.
#PACKPROS: CSU-Pueblo has three former players in the NFL right now. Ryan Jensen (2009-12) enters his fifth season with the Baltimore Ravens and Mike Pennel (2013) is in his fourth overall season and first with the New York Jets. Morgan Fox (2012-15) moved from the practice squad to active roster last season and enters year two with the Los Angeles Rams. The Pack also have a player in the Canadian Football League (CFL), as Darius Allen (2011-14) is on the practice squad for the Edmonton Esks. Finally, Paul Browning (2010-14) finished his second season in the Arena Football League (AFL) in July with the Baltimore Brigade. Former quarterback Chris Bonner (2013-14) finished his first season in the AFL with the Tampa Bay Storm.
VS. RANKED SQUADS: CSU-Pueblo owns a 16-6 (11-4 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.
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.