PUEBLO, Colo. (November 9, 2017) - The No. 23 Colorado State University-Pueblo football team will have the opportunity to win its sixth Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championship in the last seven years Saturday when it travels to Chadron State College for a 12 p.m. kickoff. The ThunderWolves would move to 9-1 with a victory and share the title with Colorado Mesa University.
• With a win, CSU-Pueblo will go 9-1 in RMAC play and will share the 2017 RMAC Championship with Colorado Mesa. The title would be the sixth for the Pack in the last seven years.
• The ThunderWolves are No. 23 team in the AFCA top 25 poll.
• This season, the ThunderWolves will play six road games in six different states (Texas, South Dakota, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Nebraska) and travel roughly 5,000 miles roundtrip.
• The Pack have won eight straight games against Chadron State and own an 8-1 all-time record.
• In the last three meetings, CSU-Pueblo has outscored CSC 116 (38.7 ppg) to 37 (12.3 ppg). The ThunderWolves has scored more than 30 points in six of the meetings.
• The Pack have won all four meetings in Chadron, which includes a 48-10 win in 2015.
• In last season's meeting at the ThunderBowl, the ThunderWolves defeated the Eagles 27-14. CSC scored the first 14 points and led 14-0 after the first quarter, but the Pack rebounded with 27 unanswered points for the win.
SCOUTING THE PACK
• The ThunderWolves are coming off a 31-10 road win in their first trip to St. George, Utah and Dixie State.
• The Pack gathered two more interceptions at DSU to push the season total to 19, which is second in NCAA Division II.
• One of the interceptions was by CB Darius Williams, as he established a new program record for interceptions in a season with eight. He is tied for the lead nationally.
• QB Rex Dausin threw for 177 yards and two touchdowns on 13-of-18 (72.2%) passing. His 59.1 completion percentage is third in the RMAC this season.
• The Pack defense allowed just 168 yards (105 passing) and now rank 11th nationally in total defense (278.3 ypg). With 15.1 points allowed per contest, the ThunderWolves are 15th in NCAA Division II. Both lead the league.
• RB Marché Dennard rushed for 80 yards and two touchdowns in the win, while adding 30 receiving yards and his first TD catch of the season. His 15 rushing TD's this season ranks 11th nationally and with 96 points scored, he ranks 13th in DII. The junior's 7.6 yards per carry is 5th in Division II.
• The Pack are 20th nationally (2nd RMAC) in scoring offense with 38.6 points per game.
• ILB Brandon Payer is 3rd in the RMAC in total tackles with 92. His 62 solo efforts is 2nd in the league and ranks 11th in Division II.
• The ThunderWolves rank 19th nationally in red zone offense (88.9%). The team is 40-of-45 this season with 32 touchdowns.
• The defense ranks 11th nationally in the red zone, as they allow the opponent to score only 65.2 percent of the time.
• The defense hasn't allowed a fourth quarter score in the last four games and just 10 in the last eight games (all against ASU Oct. 7).
• The Pack have two touchdowns on special teams (blocked punt and punt return).
• R-Fr. K Mitchell Carter is 50-for-51 on EXPT and 10-of-12 on FGs in 2017. He ranks 13th nationally in field goal percentage (83.3%).
SCOUTING CHADRON STATE
• The Eagles are 6-4 overall with a 6-3 RMAC record to rank tied for 3rd in the league.
• Chadron State has won three of its last four games, which includes a road win at Black Hills State last week by the score of 35-14.
• CSC ranks 4th in the RMAC in both scoring offense (32.8 ppg) and scoring defense (26.3 ppg).
• The Eagles are averaging 251.2 yards per game through the air to rank 3rd in the league.
• Chadron State leads the conference in sacks with 26 (-148 yards) and are 2nd in least sacks allowed with 11 (-53 yards).
• The defense has scored five touchdowns this year to rank T-4th nationally.
• The Eagles rank 19th nationally and 2nd in the RMAC in kickoff returns (24.03 ypk).
• RB Derek Jackson (Pueblo West HS) has 14 rushing touchdowns this season to rank 14th nationally. He is 3rd in the RMAC in rushing yards with 1,016.
• The Eagles have two players that rank in the top seven in the RMAC in tackles, as LB Keenan Johnson is sixth with 82 tackles (42 solo) and DB Ryan Wood owns 71 tackles (40 solo) to sit seventh.
• CSU-Pueblo entered the 2017 ranked No. 12 in both the AFCA and D2Football.com polls. The Pack are No. 23 in the AFCA this week and is No. 20 in the D2Football.com poll.
• 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).
• Since 2008, CSU-Pueblo is undefeated when scoring 35 or more points (51-0) and when allowing 10 points or less (39-0).
• Since 2008, the ThunderWolves are 51-11 (.823) at the ThunderBowl.
• CSU-Pueblo is winning the first half 232-87, specifically scoring 146 points in the second quarter.
• The defense has given up just 64 points in the second half (23 in the fourth quarter).
• The Pack have totaled 11 75-yard or more scoring drives. The longest drive was a 15-play, 96-yard drive to the end zone at South Dakota Mines. It ate up 7:18 of the clock, which is the most time a scoring drive has taken this season.
• CSU-Pueblo has recorded four drives under 20 seconds this season. Two came at New Mexico Highlands (Sept. 23) on a one-play 30 yard run by Austin Micci that took seven seconds and a 19 second, one-play run 69 yard run by Marché Dennard. The other two came against Black Hills State (Oct. 21). The first was a two-play 21 yard drive that ran 11 seconds off the clock, then a two-play, 15-yard drive that ticked eight seconds off.
• The ThunderWolves have a 72-8 record since 2008 when scoring first (7-1 this season).
• The Pack scored in all three areas of the game against Adams State for the first time since Sept. 12, 2015 at West Texas A&M. The Pack totaled six offensive scores, posted a 99-yard pick six by Darius Williams and got two on special teams, a 35-yard punt block for a score and a 63-yard punt return for a touchdown.
• CSU-Pueblo owns a 17-6 (12-4 at home) record versus ranked opponents (Division II) since 2011. That includes a 6-1 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. Ranking history since 2011 page 4
CSU-PUEBLO POSITION NOTABLES
• Junior RB Marché Dennard leads the team with 916 rushing yards on 120 attempts for a 7.6 yards per carry average that ranks 5th in NCAA Division II. He owns 15 rushing touchdowns to rank 11th nationally, while he ranks 11th in total touchdowns (16, 1 rec TD) and 18th in scoring.
• RB Austin Micci has seven rushing touchdowns and has found the end zone eight times this season (one receiving). The sophomore back owns 615 rushing yards this season on a 119 carries. He averages 61.5 yards per game.
• The Pack are 4th in the RMAC in rushing offense with 190.1 yards per game. The 405 rushing yards against New Mexico Highlands was the third most in program history. The Pack rushed for 435 yards on 50 attempts against Western New Mexico, Oct. 31, 2009 and 481 against Westminster in 1977.
• Scoring 38.6 points per game they sit 2nd in the RMAC and 20th in NCAA Division II.
• In his first NCAA Division II start, junior QB Brandon Edwards went 13-for-19 (68.4%) for 152 yards and two touchdowns. His recorded a 72.4 completion percentage before suffering an injury in week three.
• As a team, the ThunderWolves rank 1st in the RMAC with a 61.3 completion percentage. The combined seven interceptions thrown through 10 games ranks 3rd in the league in least interceptions.
• Senior QB Rex Dausin threw for 318 yards in the win against No. 8 Colorado Mesa. It was the first 300 yard game by a Pack QB since Chris Bonner Oct. 18, 2014. He is 3rd in the RMAC in completion percentage (59.1%).
• Senior WR Osha Washington leads the team in receptions with 40 (472 yards). Sophomore WR Ammon Johnson leads in receiving yards with 484 (33 receptions), while eight different receivers have touchdowns this season with junior WR Josh Smith leading the way with six.
• 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 on Nov. 11, 2014.
• The ThunderWolves have five seniors on the offensive line this season and rank 5th in the RMAC in the least tackles for loss allowed (5.8). They rank 39th nationally (3rd in RMAC) in sacks allowed (1.4 per game).
• The Pack rank 19th in NCAA Division II in red zone offense, as they are 40-for-45 (88.9%)this season. They have 32 touchdowns and seven field goals. Two misses were when the Pack went into victory formation.
• CSU-Pueblo sits 28th nationally (2nd RMAC) in 3rd down conversion percentage (44.4%).
• The Pack are 5th in the RMAC in total offense with 416.3 yards per game.
• 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 15th nationally (1st in RMAC) in scoring defense this season at 15.1 points per game.
• The Pack have 19 interceptions in 2017 to rank 1st in the RMAC and 2nd nationally. With five fumble recoveries added to the INT total, CSU-Pueblo ranks 1st in the RMAC and 14th in Division II in turnovers gained (24).
• The ThunderWolves totalled four pix sixes in 2016. CSU-Pueblo has five returned for scores (T-4th nationally in defensive TDs). CB Darius Williams has three this season to tie for the most in NCAA Division II (25 yards at NMHU - Sept. 23, 99 yards versus ASU - Oct. 7, and 35 yards against BHSU - Oct. 21). CB Emery Taylor also had a pick six against Black Hills State, as his went for 46 yards then returned on for 25 yards against WSCU (Oct. 28).
• Williams has at least one pick six in each of his three seasons with the Pack and four in his career. His eight interceptions establishes a new program record, is a RMAC best and ranks T-1st in NCAA Division II. His 196 return yards is also a program record, set by C.J. Roberts in 2012 (187 yards) on five interceptions.
• With eight interceptions and eight break-ups, Williams also leads the RMAC in pass break-ups with 16 to sit 12th nationally. Taylor adds five interceptions and nine break-ups to rank 6th in the RMAC and 24th nationally in passes defended with 14.
• Since 2008, the Pack have totaled 33 interception returns for a touchdown. The most in a season is five by the 2010, 2014 and 2017 squads. The Pack finished 10th in NCAA Division II in defensive TD's with five last season.
• 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 1st in the league (29th nationally) in rushing defense, allowing 114.2 yards per game.
• The ThunderWolves allowed just 14 passing yards to Western State (Oct. 28) and 84 total yards, then followed it with allowing Dixie State (Nov. 4) 63 passing and 168 total yards.
• The Pack lead the RMAC and rank 11th nationally in total defense, allowing 278.3 yards per game.
• Junior inside linebacker Brandon Payer has 92 tackles with 62 solo. He is 3rd in the RMAC in tackles and second in solo tackles (11th nationally). The 62 solo tackles is a new modern era program record. He adds 4.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss (-49 yards).
• The Pack's red zone defense is the best in the RMAC and ranks 11th nationally. They are allowing their opponent to score on 65.2 percent of their attempts (15-of-23). Of their 15 scores, 12 have gone for touchdowns.
• The Pack have two blocked punts (vs Colorado Mines, Aug. 31, vs Adams State, Oct. 7) and a blocked extra point (at New Mexico Highlands, Sept. 23) this season to rank 4th in the RMAC in blocked kicks. CSU-Pueblo is T-3rd in the RMAC and T-19th nationally in blocked punts.
• Sophomore ILB Kyle Rosenbrock blocked and returned a punt 35 yards to the end zone in the win against Adams State. It was the first blocked punt for a score for the Pack since 2015.
• CSU-Pueblo has allowed just one blocked kick (an extra point).
• Sophomore WR Brandon O'Donnell recorded the second longest punt return for a touchdown in the RMAC this season when he returned a kick 63 yards to the end zone against Adams State (Oct. 7.). It was the first punt return for a score for the Pack since Dec. 6, 2014 against Ohio Dominican.
• WR Kevin Ribarich returned seven punts for 88 yards at Dixie State (Nov. 4) to record the most punt returns and punt return yards in a game in the RMAC this season.
• CSU-Pueblo is 41st nationally in kick returns (22.3 ypr) and 37th (2nd in RMAC) in punt returns (12.4 ypr). CSU-Pueblo ranks 6th nationally in punt return defense, allowing just 2.7 yards per attempt.
• New kicker, R-Fr. Mitchell Carter is 50-for-51 on extra points and 10-of-12 on field goals this season. He ranks 13th in NCAA Division II in the category of field goal percentage (min. 1 FGA per game). His 80 points is second on the team and is 6th in the RMAC.
• Junior punter Tanner Cuda is averaging 39.3 yards per kick to rank 5th in the RMAC. He has placed 21 of his 41 attempts inside the 20 and has five over 50 yards, which includes a 77 yard punt against Colorado Mesa (Sept. 30) - the second longest in the RMAC this season.
#PACKPROS: CSU-Pueblo has three former players in the NFL right now. Ryan Jensen (2009-12) is in 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. Jensen is starting at center for the Ravens, while Fox and Pennel are regulars on the defensive line. 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.
As a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Colorado State University – Pueblo competes in 22 varsity sports in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics.