Colorado State University-Pueblo might not quite be ready for primetime.
Preseason Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference player of the year Joe McLain led a balanced and methodical Chadron State (3-1, 2-0 RMAC) attack to a 32-0 victory, handing CSU-Pueblo their first loss of the season.
“We took one right on the chin,” CSU-Pueblo linebacker Jerry McWilliams said. “Their quarterback was very smart. He knew who was blitzing and we just couldn’t disguise anything.”
McLain finished the game with 204 yards passing and one touchdown pass.
Chadron State, ranked No. 18 nationally, took control of the game early in the first quarter when defensive pressure forced a fumble by CSU-Pueblo quarterback Sean Gavin. The Eagles converted a touchdown two plays later on a 20-yard run by sophomore tailback John Ritzen.
The ThunderWolves (2-1, 1-1) had several chances to get on the scoreboard in the first half, but they couldn’t finish several drives, one that included a missed 27-yard field goal.
“It could’ve been 21-14 at the half, but breaks went their way and it was 25-0,” CSU-Pueblo head coach John Wristen said.
After running past the 100-yard mark in each of his first two games, ThunderWolf running back Brandon Gray couldn’t find any creases in the stout Chadron State defense. Gray finished the game with 48 yards on 11 carries, but 55 of those yards came on a run at the end of the first half.
“We couldn’t run the ball with any consistency. They really controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball,” Wristen said.
With Chadron State keying in on the ThunderWolf running game, freshman quarterback Sean Gavin struggled to find any consistency in the first start of his college career. Gavin, replacing injured starter Bobby Washington, finished 9-of-21 for 132 yards and an interception.
One bright spot for the ThunderWolves was converted running back Brock Veasley. Head Coach John Wristen added a new wrinkle to the offense by taking out Gavin on several plays and replacing him in the backfield with Veasley.
“It worked pretty good at first, but then they noticed what was going on after a few plays,” Veasley said.
The crowd of 7,722 began filing out of the stands late in the third quarter despite the pre-game excitement and first ever “red-out” game. Red ThunderWolf shirts were handed out to the crowd before the game.
Chadron State extended its conference winning streak to 20 games with the victory.
“We’ve got to flush this one, and we’ve got to get to work on Monday for Mines,” Wristen said.
The Pack will travel north to Golden next Saturday when they face the Colorado School of Mines (3-1, 2-0).