NCAA Division II Showcase: No. 17 ThunderWolves host No. 8 Mavericks

PUEBLO, Colo. (Sept. 28, 2017) - The No. 17 Colorado State University-Pueblo football team hosts the No. 8 Colorado Mesa University Mavericks in the NCAA Division II Showcase Saturday, Sept. 30 at 2:05 p.m. at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl. 

LIVE STATS
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TICKETS

CSU-PUEBLO GAME NOTES (3-1, 3-0 RMAC)
COLORADO MESA GAME NOTES (4-0, 4-0 RMAC)

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THE GAME 

• The ThunderWolves are ranked No. 17 in the AFCA poll, while Colorado Mesa comes in at No. 8.

• The two teams shared the RMAC Championship last season in a three-way tie with Colorado Mines.

• All-time, the ThunderWolves trail the series 16-18-5. 

• The Pack lost 20-19 in Grand Junction last season to end a six-game winning streak against the Mavericks. The game ended on the one-yard line, as the Pack were unable to get into the end zone on a quarterback sneak as time expired. CSU-Pueblo had six red zone chances in the game and converted on four, but had to settle with three field goals. 

• The Pack recorded a 51-20 win against CMU at home in 2015.

SCOUTING THE PACK 

• The ThunderWolves (3-1, 3-0 RMAC) recorded a 56-13 win at New Mexico Highlands University Saturday. The Pack totaled 574 yards of offense and created three turnovers.

• The Pack totaled 405 yards on 33 carries to average 12.3 yards per attempt. The ThunderWolves rank 14th nationally with 242.5 yards per game. Five touchdowns came on the ground against the Cowboys and the team has totaled 12 rushing touchdowns in 2017.

• RB Marché Dennard carried the ball just seven times for 159 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 22.7 yards per carry.  

• The CSU-Pueblo defense had three interceptions against NMHU, which included a 25-yard interception return for a score by CB Darius Williams. He has now recorded a pick six in each of his three seasons. Williams had two interceptions in the game and tied a career high with eight tackles to earn RMAC Defensive Player of the Week.

• RB Austin Micci added a touchdown at NMHU to push his total to seven (six rushing and one receiving). Nationally, he ranks seventh in rushing touchdowns and eighth in total points scored (42).  

• After allowing 14.5 points per game in the first four weeks, the ThunderWolves rank No. 18 in Division II in total defense. With eight interceptions the Pack rank fifth in NCAA Division II.   

• The ThunderWolves are 16-for-16 in the red zone. CSU-Pueblo has scored 13 touchdowns and three field goals in the red zone. The Pack are tied with 11 other teams for the lead in NCAA Division II. 

SCOUTING COLORADO MESA

• The Mavericks are 4-0, both overall and in RMAC play. They have played three home games and one road contest (24-20 at Chadron).

• Colorado Mesa ranks 13th in NCAA Division II in total offense with 486.0 yards per game. 

• CMU is guided by QB Eystin Salum, who ranks 11th nationally in total offense (325.3 ypg) and RB David Tann, who sits 12th in Division II with six total touchdowns.

• The Maverick defense allows 20.8 points per game and is third in the RMAC in rushing defense, as they allow 135.0 yards per game.

• CMU has allowed just 13 first half points, but 56 in the fourth quarter (56-17 in the 4th in 2017).

• DL Blake Nelson leads the team with 31 tackles (15 solo), while DB Dustin Rivas owns 24 tackles (15 solo) with four passes defended (one interception). 

THE POLLS 

• 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. 17/10 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).

TEAM NOTES

• Since 2008, CSU-Pueblo is undefeated when scoring 35 or more points (49-0) 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.

• 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 28-6. 

• CSU-Pueblo is winning the first half 105-39 and have only allowed 19 second half points.

• The Pack have totaled six 75-yard or more scoring drives this season.

• The ThunderWolves have a 68-8 record since 2008 when scoring first (3-1 this season).

CSU-PUEBLO POSITION NOTABLES

OFFENSE

• Sophomore Austin Micci has found the end zone seven times this season, six rushing and one receiving. His seven scores places him tied for 7th nationally, while the six rushing touchdowns is tied for 7th in NCAA Division II.  He ranks tied for 8th in total points scored (42) and is 12th in scoring per game (10.5 ppg). 

• Junior Marché Dennard leads the team with 340 rushing yards on 30 attempts for a 11.3 yards per carry average. He owns four touchdowns and averages 85.0 yards per game.

• The Pack are 14th nationally in rushing offense with 242.5 yards per game. The 405 rushing yards against New Mexico Highlands was the second most in program history. The Pack rushed for 435 yards on 50 attempts against Western New Mexico, Oct. 31, 2009.

• 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.  

• As a team, the ThunderWolves rank first in the RMAC and 12th nationally with a 63.3 completion percentage.

• WR Osha Washington leads the team in receiving with 202 yards. Six different receivers have touchdowns this season with Washington lead the way with two.

• QB Rex Dausin's 83-yard touchdown strike to Washington at NMHU (Sept. 23) was the longest since an 82-yard connection between Chris Bonner and Paul Browning 11/11/14. 

• 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 18th nationally in the least tackles for loss allowed (4.0). 

• The Pack rank tied for first in NCAA Division II in red zone offense, as they are 16-for-16 this season, tied with 11 other teams. 

DEFENSE

• 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 18th nationally and first in the league in scoring defense this season, as it allows 14.5 points per game.

• The Pack have eight interceptions in 2017 to rank first in the RMAC and 5th nationally. With two fumble recoveries added to the INT total, CSU-Pueblo ranks first in the RMAC and 23rd nationally in turnovers gained (10).

• 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). CSU-Pueblo earned its first interception for a score against NMHU (Sept. 23) when CB Darius Williams took a pick 25 yards to the paint. 

• Since 2008, the Pack have totaled 29 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.

• Williams has returned an interception for a score in each of his three 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 33rd in NCAA Division II in rushing defense, allowing 113.8 yards per game.

• The Pack are second in the RMAC in total defense, allowing 331.8 yards per game.

• Junior inside linebacker Brandon Payer has 41 tackles with 26 solo. He is third in the RMAC tackles (37th nationally) and solo tackles (25th nationally). His 3.5 sacks is 31st nationally and tied for first in the league, while the eight tackles for loss (-33 yards) is a RMAC best and tied for 11th in NCAA Division II. 

• Williams recorded 14 passes defended to rank tied for third in the conference in 2016. He has five this season, which includes three interceptions. 

• CB Emery Taylor has six passes defended (one interception), which is fifth in the league and 30th nationally.

• The Pack's red zone defense is the second best in the RMAC and ranks 25th nationally. They are allowing their opponent to score on 64.3 percent of their attempts. Of their nine scores, six have gone for touchdowns. 

SPECIAL TEAMS   

• The kick return defense has allowed 16.4 yards per return to rank 19th nationally and first in the RMAC.

• The Pack have one blocked punt (vs Colorado Mines, Aug. 31) and an extra point (at New Mexico Highlands, Sept. 23) this season to rank tied for 20th nationally in blocked kicks.  

• CSU-Pueblo has not allowed their opponent to block any kick attempts. 

• New kicker, R-Fr. Mitchell Carter is 3-for-3 on field goals and 20-for-20 on extra points. 

#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.

Aug. 31, 2017 - W, 38-7 - (16) Colorado Mines
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.