No. 16 Pack knock off Hardrockers 41-14 on Homecoming

PUEBLO, Colo. (September 29, 2018) - The No. 16 Colorado State University-Pueblo football team didn't let the big win last week distract them from continuing their successful ways, as the ThunderWolves dominated in the annual homecoming game with a 41-14 victory against South Dakota Mines and Technology in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference contest Saturday.

The Pack (4-1, 3-1 RMAC) moved to 11-0 on homecoming since the return and posted a 17-7 lead through the first quarter with a 31-7 advantage at the half to run to the big victory. Statistically, the two teams were close, but the bend-don't-break defense kept the Hardrockers (2-3, 1-3 RMAC) off the scoreboard. CSU-Pueblo totaled three turnovers, with two coming on the home team's side of the field.

One of the giveaways came on the first South Dakota Mines drive when a tipped ball was corraled by senior Noor Shongolo (OLB, Commerce City, Colo.) at the home 25-yard line. The pick stopped a 50-yard drive by the Hardrockers and started an eight-play, 75 yard drive by the Pack to the end zone. The second interception came in the first five minutes of the second quarter when junior Emery Taylor (CB, Aurora, Colo.) collected his team-leading third interception of the season in the end zone. The ThunderWolves started on the their own 20 and marched 80 yards on eight plays to open a 31-7 lead. 

The CSU-Pueblo offense scored on its first five possessions of the game and finished with a balanced attack. The Pack compiled 426 yards with 214 on the ground and 212 yards through the air. Ten different players had a carry with junior Austin Micci (RB, Colorado Springs, Colo.) finishing with 10 attempts and 52 yards with a two-yard touchdown. Marcus Lindsay (R-Fr., RB, Aurora, Colo.) also carried the ball 10 times and posted 43 yards. 

Three touchdowns came on the ground, as quarterback Brandon Edwards (Sr., Bothell, Wash.) scored on a QB keeper from two yards out early in the second. Two wide receivers also got in the rushing mix, as John Todd (Sr., San Diego, Calif.) was the first to find the paint on a four-yard run. Senior Kevin Ribarich (Pueblo, Colo.) scored the final touchdown for CSU-Pueblo, as he cut and bounced his way to the end zone on a third quarter, 16-yard run. 

Edwards was an efficient 15-for-19 (78.9%) passing with 186 yards. He longest reception was a catch and run by Micci, a 48-yard play to give the Pack a 31-7 lead before half. Micci would finish with five receptions for 99 yards (both career-highs) and total 151 yards. With his score from the air and ground it marked the second time in his career he has done so. In his first two seasons, the junior had totaled just nine receptions for 96 yards. 

On defense, who else but senior inside linebacker Brandon Payer (Pine, Colo.) to lead the team in tackles, as he gathered eight (four solo) with 2.5 tackles for loss (-3 yards). He entered the game leading the RMAC in tackles and tackles for loss. 

Junior safety Tanner Draper (Amarillo, Texas) closed the game with seven tackles (five solo). Kyle Rosenbrock (Jr., ILB, Brush, Colo.) closed the contest with seven tackles, two tackles for loss (-2 yards) and a fumble recovery. 

The ThunderWolves were 6-for-6 in the red zone and didn't turn the ball over. The one Pack sack came from freshman Justin Jenks (DL, Helena, Mont.). Mitchell Carter (So., Colorado Springs, Colo.) finished 2-for-2 on field goal attempts, as he hit from 37 and 28 yards. 

CSU-Pueblo will stay at home Oct. 6 when it hosts New Mexico Highlands University beginning at 6 p.m.

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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.