PUEBLO, Colo. (Oct. 6, 2018) - The No. 15 Colorado State University-Pueblo football team established it's 100th win since returning the program in 2008 when it defeated New Mexico Highlands University 48-3 at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl Saturday.
The program restarted in 2008 and quickly become one the best in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. In 2014 the ThunderWolves became the best in the nation when it posted a 13-0 victory to win the NCAA Division II National Championship. Head Coach John Wristen started it all and also celebrates his 100th victory as the head coach of the Pack. In 10 and a half seasons, the Pack have accumulated a 100-24 (.806) record.
New Mexico Highlands (2-4, 2-3 RMAC) took the opening kickoff and drove 66 yards on 13 plays, which ate up the first 4:57 of game time, but had to settle for a 21-yard field goal to lead 3-0 in the first quarter. For the rest of the game (62 offensive plays), the Pack (5-1, 4-1 RMAC) held the Cowboys to 127 yards of offense. On the flip side, CSU-Pueblo recorded 48 unanswered points, 35 of which came in the second half. The defense allowed 97 yards rushing and 96 yards passing to a team that was averaging 424 yards per game of offense and had been putting up 35.4 points per game.
CSU-Pueblo finished with four takeaways, which included three interceptions. The Pack entered the game ranked sixth nationally in turnovers gained and No. 19th in interceptions. The home team benefited from the turnovers and scored 21 points off the NMHU miscues.
Senior nose guard Deyon Sizer (Aurora, Colo.) gathered a team-best 11 tackles (three solo) with a half tackle for loss. Junior Kyle Rosenbrock (ILB, Brush, Colo.) added 10 tackles (seven solo) with 2.5 tackles for loss (-6 yards). Three of Michael Wristen's (Sr., DL, Broomfield, Colo.) five tackles were for loss (-11 yards), which included a sack (-3 yards). The ThunderWolves entered the game ranked seventh in Division II in tackles for loss (9.8 TFLpg) and compiled 12 against NMHU, which resulted in a loss of 34 yards.
The offense started slow, as the ThunderWolves led by just 10 at 13-3 at the half. After missing the last six quarters, senior running back Marché Dennard (Phoenix, Ariz.) returned to the lineup in a big way. He scored the Pack's lone touchdown in the first half and had 44 yards at the break. The senior would finish with a career-high 213 yards and three touchdowns on just 14 carries to pull a 15.2 yards per carry average. His long run was a 51-yard score in the third to put the Pack ahead 27-3.
The ThunderWolves gobbled up 337 rushing yards and scored five times on the ground. CSU-Pueblo would finish the game with 532 total yards of offense, as senior quarterback Brandon Edwards (Bothell, Wash.) finished with 195 yards on 13-of-19 passing (68.4%), which included a 38-yard touchdown strike to senior John Todd (Sr., San Diego, Calif.). Todd was the top receiver with five catches for 74 yards.
All three of Mitchell Carter's (So., Colorado Springs, Colo.) field goal attempts came in the second quarter. He hit from a season-long distance of 44 yards to put the Pack ahead 10-3 and knocked one through from 27 yards to give the home team a 13-3 lead it would hold until halftime. In between his 45-yard attempt was blocked, which marked the first block of any kind the ThunderWolves have allowed this season.
In addition to Todd scoring in the fourth quarter, junior quarterback AJ Thompson (Denver, Colo.) converted a fourth-and-one with a 37-yard rush to the house. The final score came from senior David Cardinal, Jr. (Denver, Colo.), who finished off a short drive thanks to a fumble recovery with a one-yard score.
A side note, following the 2015 season CSU-Pueblo self-reported two players as ineligible. The NCAA removed the postseason appearance from that 2015 season and the 2-1 record it accumulated.
• 24 players on defense recorded at least one tackle.
• Emery Taylor (Jr., CB, Aurora, Colo.) brought in his team-leading fourth interception. He also added two break-ups. The junior entered the game ranked 12th nationally in passes defended with nine.
• Michael Wristen was T-2nd in the RMAC in sacks entering tonight's game. He now has five this season.
• CSU-Pueblo had 339 more yards on 15 less plays. The Pack earned 22 first downs, while the Cowboys had 13.
The ThunderWolves will play four of their final five regular season games on the road, starting with a Oct. 13 showdown with Colorado Mesa University. The 2 p.m. start in Grand Junction, Colo. will air live on ESPN3, as the contest was selected to be an NCAA Division II Showcase game.
– 30 –
As a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Colorado State University – Pueblo competes in 22 varsity sports in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics.