PUEBLO, Colo. (Sept. 30, 2017) - The No. 17 Colorado State University-Pueblo football team recorded a 30-24 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference home victory against No. 8 Colorado Mesa University Saturday at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl.
Although the ThunderWolves (4-1, 4-0 RMAC) allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown for the first time since 2011, special teams played a large role in the victory against the Mavericks (4-1, 3-1 RMAC). Redshirt-freshman kicker Mitchell Carter (Colorado Springs, Colo.) was called upon and he answered in a big way, as he went 4-for-4 on field goal attempts, which included a 47-yarder, and was 3-for-3 on extra points. Junior punter Tanner Cuda (Castle Pines, Colo.) helped reverse the field on multiple occasions, which included a punt of 77 yards. He finished averaging 45.8 yards per punt on six attempts.
The ThunderWolves finished with 412 yards of offense and allowed 374. Despite a slow start, senior quarterback Rex Dausin (San Antonio, Texas) finished with 306 yards passing on a 26-of-42 effort and a touchdown. His lone interception didn't turn into points for the Mavericks, thanks to a fourth down stand on the goal line by the defense. Dausin hit 10 different receivers and completed three or more passes to five of them. Junior Marché Dennard (Phoenix, Ariz.) had to work a little harder for his 106 rushing yards and two touchdowns than he has in the past two weeks. The running back totaled 22 carries to average 4.8 yards per attempt.
On the defensive side, junior Brandon Payer (Pine, Colo.) was again the top dog. The inside linebacker gathered 11 tackles (three solo) with a tackle for loss (-3 yards), a break-up and a forced fumble. The Pack defense forced three fumbles and recovered one. The recovery came with the ThunderWolves leading 27-24 midway through the fourth quarter. The recovery by junior Deyon Sizer (Aurora, Colo.) placed the CSU-Pueblo offense at the CMU 27-yard-line. The Mavericks responded with a goal line stand of their own and forced an 18 yard field goal to move the score to 30-24 with 3:09 remaining.
After a scoreless first quarter, the teams traded long field goals in the first four minutes of the second frame. Following the 47-yard field goal from Carter, the Mavericks took the kickoff 97 yards to the end zone. It was the first kickoff return for a touchdown the ThunderWolves had allowed since a member of the Mavericks returned a kick 100 yards for a score in 2011.
The Pack offense came back on the field and marched 55 yards on 11 plays to setup a 37-yard field goal by Carter. The defense forced a punt and gave the ball back to the offense with 1:48 to play in the half. They were able to move the ball to striking distance of a hail mary play, which proved to be fruitful. Flushed from the pocket, Dausin ripped a pass 43 yards to the corner of the end zone where senior Osha Washington (Stockton, Calif.) got his hands on it first, but was bobbled right into the mitts of junior Josh Smith (Everett, Wash.).
The excitement and momentum rolled into the opening drive of the second half, as the Pack only needed three plays to go 68 yards to the paint and lead 20-10. Dennard's 13-yard touchdown run was setup by a 53 yard catch and run by senior tight end Zach Boyd (Fort Lupton, Colo.).
CMU came back with an 82-yard drive to the end zone to cut the deficit to 20-17 and then used a one-play, 56-yard drive to regain the lead 24-20 late in the third.
The ThunderWolves started the fourth with a 51 second drive that saw three plays and 65 yards end with Dennard's second score of the game. The defense tightened up in the final 15 minutes, as the three Maverick drives were of six, five and six plays that totaled 49 yards of offense. The fumble recovery setup the final score of the game and the Pack remained undefeated in league play.
Next, the ThunderWolves remain in Pueblo for a homecoming showdown with Adams State University Oct. 7 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.