PUEBLO, Colo. (Sept. 21, 2017) - The No. 19 Colorado State University-Pueblo football team will play its third road game in a row Sept. 23 when it travels to New Mexico Highlands University for a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference contest beginning at 12 p.m.
• The ThunderWolves are ranked No. 19/14 in the AFCA/D2Football.com national polls.
• The Pack are heading on the road for the third straight week, which has happened four other times in the program's four-year era - 2014, 1976, 1965 and 1964.
• CSU-Pueblo has won 12 straight against New Mexico Highlands and are 17-5 all-time against the Cowboys.
• The Pack are 8-1 on the road versus NMHU, which includes a 33-7 road win in 2015.
• Since 2008, CSU-Pueblo has outscored the Cowboys 375 (41.7 ppg) to 93 (10.3 ppg), allowed seven or less points five times (two shutouts) and have scored more than 40 points four times (66 in 2010 and 61 in 2016).
• Last season in Pueblo, the ThunderWolves won 61-6 and scored eight rushing touchdowns, while the defense posted a shutout for 59:52 of game clock. Four different players scored a rushing touchdown, while the other score came on a 27-yard interception return by Darius Williams.
SCOUTING THE PACK
• The ThunderWolves rebounded from a week two loss with a 34-14 road win at South Dakota Mines.
• The CSU-Pueblo defense came up with four turnovers to help overcome 133 yards of penalties.
• RB Marché Dennard carried the ball 16 times for 141 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 8.8 yards per carry to help the Pack to 236 yards of rushing yards. RB Austin Micci added 90 yards and a score on the ground.
• Micci has six touchdowns this season, five on the ground to rank tied for third nationally in total touchdowns and tied for seventh in rushing scores.
• WR Osha Washington brought down nine receptions for 73 yards.
• After allowing 15.0 points per game in the first three weeks, the ThunderWolves rank No. 17 in Division II in total defense. With five interceptions the Pack rank 13th in NCAA Division II.
• The ThunderWolves are 14-for-14 in the red zone after going 6-for-6 in the game at South Dakota Mines. CSU-Pueblo has scored 11 touchdowns and three field goals in the red zone. The Pack are tied with 19 other teams for the lead in NCAA Division II. Last season CSU-Pueblo finished 18th nationally in the category.
SCOUTING NEW MEXICO HIGHLANDS
• The Cowboys are 2-1 this season and 1-1 in RMAC play. Last week they posted a 42-7 homecoming victory against Texas-Wesleyan.
• After a 23-22 upset victory against Dixie State at home week 1, NMHU lost 70-0 at Colorado Mines.
• The offense is averaging 21.7 points and 333 yards per game. The Cowboys are allowing 33 points and 430.7 yards per contest.
• RB Dione Alston leads the rushing attack with 271 yards on 44 attempts and four touchdowns. He is averaging 90.3 yards per game and 6.2 yards per carry.
• The Cowboy defense has five takeaways (two INT, three fumble), but just one sack on the season.
• The defense three players with 20 or more tackles, guided by Jake Harrelson with 23 (8 solo).
• NMHU was last in the RMAC preseason 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. 19/14 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).
• This season, the ThunderWolves will play six road games in six different states (Texas, South Dakota, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Nebraska).
• The Pack will travel roughly 4,940 miles in those six road games.
• The Pack are winning the third quarter 14-0 this season. CSU-Pueblo is winning the first half 70-32.
• Last season the Pack lead their opponents 132-63 in the second quarter. The second quarter is by afar the team's most productive this season with 42 points.
• CSU-Pueblo accumulated eight drives of 80 or more yards in 2016. The Pack have totaled six 75-yard or more scoring drives this season.
• The Pack have a 67-8 record since 2008 when scoring first. They are 2-1 this season.
• Since 2008, CSU-Pueblo is undefeated when scoring 35 or more points (48-0) and when allowing 10 points or less (36-0).
• 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.
CSU-PUEBLO POSITION NOTABLES
• Sophomore Austin Micci has found the end zone six times this season, five rushing and one receiving. His six scores places him tied for 3rd nationally, while the five rushing touchdowns is tied for 7th in NCAA Division II. He ranks tied for 3rd in total points scored (36) and is 4th in scoring per game (12.0 ppg).
• In his first NCAA Division II start, junior QB Brandon Edwards went 13-for-19 (68.4%) for 152 yards and two touchdowns. His 72.4 completion percentage this season ranks first in the RMAC and 4th nationally. He is 37th in passing efficiency (150.0%).
• As a team, the ThunderWolves rank 12th nationally with a 68.5 completion percentage.
• 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 and rank 21st nationally in the least tackles for loss allowed (4.33).
• The Pack rank tied for first in NCAA Division II in red zone offense, as they are 14-for-14 this season, tied with 19 other teams. Of those 19 teams, only four have 14 or more attempts in the red zone. The ThunderWolves have scored 11 touchdowns in those 14 attempts.
• The Pack have been one of the most stingiest and unforgiving defenses in the nation the past seven 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.
• CSU-Pueblo ranks 17th nationally and first in the league in scoring defense this season, as it allows 15.0 points per game.
• The Pack have five interceptions in 2017 to rank tied for first in the RMAC and 13th nationally. With two fumble recoveries added to the INT total, CSU-Pueblo ranks second in the RMAC and 35th nationally in turnovers gained.
• 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 is first in the league and 34th in NCAA Division II in rushing defense, allowing 109.7 yards per game.
• The Pack are 36th nationally and second in the RMAC in total defense, allowing 312.0 yards per game.
• Junior inside linebacker Brandon Payer has 28 tackles with 19 solo. He is third in the RMAC tackles (56th nationally) and solo tackles (29th nationally). His 1.0 sacks per game is 21st nationally, while the 1.7 tackles for loss per contest is 37th in Division II.
• Williams recorded 14 passes defended to rank tied for third in the conference in 2016.
• Emery Taylor's three interceptions last season 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 Pack haven't had many opportunities, as they have five kick returns and five punt returns totalling 121 yards.
• The kick return defense has allowed 14.82 yards per return to rank 10th nationally and first in the RMAC.
• The Pack have one blocked punt this season and have not allowed their opponent to block any kick attempts. CSU-Pueblo blocked a punt in the win against Colorado Mines (Aug. 31).
• New kicker, R-Fr. Mitchell Carter is 3-for-3 on field goals and 12-for-12 on extra points. He joins 22 other Division II kickers with a perfect field goal percentage.
#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.