Pack feeling blue after struggles in the red zone lead to 35-21 loss at Mines

Pack feeling blue after struggles in the red zone lead to 35-21 loss at Mines

GOLDEN, Colo. (September 15, 2018) - The No. 9 Colorado State University-Pueblo football team suffered a 35-21 loss at Colorado School of Mines Saturday after going 1-for-4 in the red zone and allowing big plays by the Orediggers in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference contest in Golden, Colorado.

The ThunderWolves (2-1, 2-1 RMAC) totaled 435 yards of offense (168 yards more than Mines), but fumbled twice inside the 10-yard-line in the second half, which resulted in 14 points for the Orediggers (3-0, 3-0 RMAC). The Pack also failed on a fourth-and-five late in the fourth quarter and missed a 38-yard field goal at the tail end of the second.

The Orediggers got up 21-14 in the first quarter behind two big run scores of 70 and 58 yards. The other score was a result of an eight-play, 42-yard drive following a failed fourth down attempt by the Pack. CSU-Pueblo had scored first, 46 seconds into the game, on the second play when Kyle Rosenbrock (Jr., ILB, Brush, Colo.) intercepted a tipped pass and returned it 23 yards to the house. The other score came on a senior Bernard McDondle (Littleton, Colo.) nine-yard run. McDondle gathered all 36 yards on the two-play drive that was set up by a 33-yard punt return by senior Kevin Ribarich (WR, Pueblo, Colo.).  

The CSU-Pueblo defense allowed 203 yards of offense with 147 of that coming on the ground (128 of that on two scoring plays) in the first quarter. For the final three quarters the ThunderWolves gave up just 64 yards, totaled three sacks (-16 yards) and forced and recovered a fumble. 

Both defenses were effective at neutralizing the other offense's strengths, as the Pack held the No. 4 passing team in Division II to just 88 yards (entered the game with 371.5 yards per game). CSU-Pueblo had the No. 1 rushing offense in the nation with 390.5 yards per game, but totaled 112 yards on 40 attempts in the loss. Contributing to the run game woes was the fact the ThunderWolves were without two starting offensive linemen in Dan List (Jr., Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Samuel Long (So., Colorado Springs, Colo.). 

In the end, 323 of the ThunderWolves' 435 yards came through the air, as senior Brandon Edwards (Bothell, Wash.) finished with 315 yards on 15-of-30 passing. His top target was senior Cole Forsgren (Gilbert, Ariz.), who recorded career highs with eight receptions for 130 yards with a long of 56 yards. McDondle was the top rusher with 55 yards and a score, while he also added 74 receiving yards, including a 68-yard fourth quarter touchdown. Senior Marché Dennard (Phoenix, Ariz.) entered the game fifth in the country in rushing yards, but was stymied and totaled 24 yards on 13 carries. 

On defense, senior inside linebacker Brandon Payer (Pine, Colo.) was again the team's tackle leader with 15 (three solo), a tackle for loss and a break-up. Senior defensive end Michael Wristen (Broomfield, Colo.) helped slow the pass game, as he gathered 11 tackles (three solo) with 1.5 tackles for loss, a sack and a fumble recovery. Rosenbrock gathered in his second interception of the year and this time returned it to the house. He also added nine tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, forced two fumbles and added a sack.

Ribarich returned three punts for 73 yards, while punter Tanner Cuda (Sr., Castle Pines, Colo.) averaged 40.2 yards on his six kicks, had a long of 52 yards and placed two inside the 20.

The ThunderWolves will have to turn around and travel to No. 1 and defending NCAA Division II National Champion Texas A&M-Commerce. The regional game is set to kickoff at 5 p.m. MT. 

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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.