Déjà vu were all what explain a 38-24 loss for the CSU-Pueblo ThunderWolves against RMAC leader and 13th-ranked University of Nebraska-Kearney Lopers on Saturday.
The first part of déjà vu starts off with the ThunderWolves, coming off a 19-16 loss last week and a 31-7 loss in 2009 to Colorado School of Mines,, having to host UNK in hopes of joining the top of the RMAC standing. Like in 2009, the ThunderWolves had the opportunity of rejoining both teams at the top of the RMAC standings.
The second part of déjà vu came from one of the RMAC’s leading receivers, Kyle Keiser.
Keiser, who tore up the ThunderWolves defense for 143 yards and twosecond half touchdowns in a 44-12 route last season, turned in a three-second half touchdown effort this year; two for 70 yards or more.
Keiser’s second touchdown, with the score at 24-17 and the ThunderWolves only down by a touchdown, came after a Jake Spitzlberger pass split ThunderWolves’ safety Josh Costa’s deflect attempt and into Keiser’s hands.
The reception lead to an open field for Keiser, who rumbled for a 71-yard touchdown that doused the Packs attempts to gain a share of first place in the RMAC.
The ThunderWolves showed resilience early against the Lopers though. A signature red- zone stop for the Pack, after the Lopers marched down the field after the opening kickoff, only resulted in a UNK field goal and a 3-0 lead.
But as the game dragged on, UNK became a statistical headache for the Pack, racking up 582 total yards of offense and five touchdowns.
Déjà vu struck again with Splitzilberger, the starting quarterback for the Lopers behind center last season, in the win against the ThunderWolves. Saturday, he threw for 410 yards and four touchdowns.
It wasn’t the big offense threat of UNK that head coach John Wristen pointed out though.
“It’s the little things that lose games like this,” Wristen said.
The little things, such as two would-be-scores for the ThunderWolves and constant mishaps on defensive coverage were what lead to the defeat, he said.
The most notable would-be-score was a Dausin pass to junior receiver Jared Sperber was called back on a holding call. CSU-Pueblo would have to settle for a Kyle Major field goal after the missed opportunity. It would have put the ThunderWolves down by only three in the first part of the fourth quarter.
The ThunderWolves only leads in the game came on a 71-yard run by Jesse Lewis, to put them up 7-3 in the second quarter, and a pass from Ross Dausin to receiver Derek Gainey that put them up 14-10 in the third quarter.
Exactly like last year, back-to-back losses to Colorado School of Mines and Saturday’s defeat, CSU-Pueblo’s hopes of an RMAC championship are most certainly crushed. Their record falls to 5-2 and 3-2 in RMAC play.
The Pack look to get back in the winning direction as they head to Grand Junction, Colo. to face the Mesa State Mavericks next Saturday before returning to the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl for the final home game of 2010 against New Mexico Highlands University.
And in regards to déjà vu, well, the ThunderWolves will have to wait till next season to see if it decides to show up again.