ThunderWolves turn away scrappy Colorado Mesa

CSU-Pueblo receiver DeAndre Cooper hurdles a defender during a 58-yard catch-and-run in the Pack's 27-7 win over Colorado Mesa Saturday.  Cooper led all receivers with 70 yards.

Pack off to 8-0 start for just second time in school history.

PUEBLO, Colo. ( - Oct. 22, 2011) - In an obvious rivalry game Saturday that saw eight personal falls called, CSU-Pueblo persevered in its typical workmanlike fashion, cruising to a 27-7 win over Colorado Mesa.

The win puts the Pack at 8-0, equalling the program's best ever start to a season, set in 1980 by the ThunderWolves' only RMAC championship squad.

The star of the game for the Pack was undoubtedly its stellar defense, which picked off Mesa quarterback Steve Romero four times, including two by Jon Bailey (Sr., Fort Morgan, Colo.)

Though seven points were on the scoreboard, the CSU-Pueblo defense didn't allow a score for the third time at home this season.  Mesa's only score came on a 100-yard kickoff return by Jordan Price in the first quarter.

Despite that early set back, the game was all ThunderWolves from the outset.

With good field position on their first possession, the Pack took to the ground with Jesse Lewis (Sr., Loveland, Colo.) leading the way. Lewis took a direct snap from three yards out and walked untouched into the end zone for the first points of the night.

After the initial outbursts of scores the game slowed down and the teams began to trade blows literally and figuratively. Each team was the victim of multiple personal fouls - a combined eight in total - many of them unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.

"It's hard when someone is on your back yelling at you but you know it's for the greater good of the team to not commit those penalties," Pack linebacker Kyle McCall said of the physical nature of the game. 

The Pack would eventually take advantage of a missed field goal by the Mavericks with a 10 play, 73-yard drive. Quarterback Ross Dausin (Jr., San Antonio, Tex.) found tight end Roger Pfannenschmid (Jr., Pueblo, Colo.) in the back of the end zone from 7-yards out to put the Pack up 14-7.

Pfannenschmid would catch his second touhdown of the night in the third quarter on a pass from Jamaal Johnson (Sr., Fountain, Colo.). Johnson faked the run from the wildcat formation, taking a direct snap and finding a wide-open Pfannenschmid in the endzone to put the Pack up 21-7.

Kyle Major (Sr., Littleton, Colo.) kicked a 42-yard field goal late in the third quarter to extend the lead to 24-7. The field goal also put Major in the record books for the most field goals made in a season, breaking his own record set last season.  He entered the game leading the nation in field goals, as well.

The defense again was stout as it has been all year. In addition to Bailey's two picks, Josh Costa (Sr., Nanakuli, Hawaii) picked off a pass for his third interception of the season.

The ThunderWolves maintained all week there would be no let down after its big win over nationally-ranked Nebraska-Kearney last weekend, and Saturday night's win showed there wasn't. 

"We don't look ahead and we treat each team the same no matter what their record is," McCall said. "As your second and third string players can back up your first string players you can go a long way."

The Pack would add one last interception to ice the game on a well-timed jump from Jarrod Lacy (RFr., Boynton Beach, Fla.).

Defensively, the Pack were dominant, causing the Mavericks to turn the ball over five times. Four of the turnovers came on interceptions and one was a fumble recovered by McCall.

The Pack will play their final road game next Saturday when they travel to play New Mexico Highlands. The game will kick off at 6 p.m.