Special in to the Today from Gothunderwolves.com
The playing surface at Elliott Field in Chadron, Neb. Saturday was muddy and filthy.
And the game taking place on the field between 19th-ranked Chadron State and 5th-ranked CSU-Pueblo certainly followed suit.
In a wacky matchup that featured a total of 33 penalties for more than 300 yards between the two teams, which negated 1,208 yards of combined total offense from both teams, CSU-Pueblo largely held the lead throughout in a heated and emotional 51-42 win over the Eagles in Chadron.
In a game defined by equal parts gutsy performances and sloppy play, the Eagles drew first blood by driving 80 yards in 14 plays, culminating in a 1-yard touchdown rush by RMAC leading rusher, Glen Clinton, as Chadron State took a 7-0 lead, becoming the first team since Northern Colorado on Sept. 7 to take a lead on CSU-Pueblo.
CSU-Pueblo answered right back with a 9-play, 65-yard drive ending with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Paul Browning, tying the game at 7-7. But at the end of the score, Browning was flagged for taunting on the celebration, and it started the flood gates of a penalty-riddled game for both teams.
Teams traded scores until the Pack surged ahead on a bubble-screen-turned-touchdown pass from Chris Bonner to Kieren Duncan, who ran the ball in from 59 yards out to put the Pack up 21-10.
Chadron drove in for a score with 21 seconds remaining in the first half to cut the Pack’s lead to 21-16, but CSU-Pueblo needed just one play to make it a two-score game as Bonner threw a bomb to Duncan from 70 yards out to put the ThunderWolves up 28-16 at halftime.
After a ho-hum third quarter that saw each team add field goals, a wacky fourth quarter got underway, beginning with a 70-yard fumble return by Darius Allen for a touchdown, breaking a 30-year-old record held by Dan DeRose by just one yard, putting the Pack up 38-19.
Both teams would trade scores with Chadron State making things interesting following an 84-yard pass from Jonn McLain to Nathan Ross, bringing the Eagles within 10, 44-34, with 8:35 left.
After a Brandon Kliesen punt pinned the Eagles on the 2-yard-line, linebacker Ryan Cummings earned his second interception of the game, helping to set up a back-breaking touchdown run by Chris Ashe, who ran for a career-high 158 yards in the game, to put the Pack up 51-34 with 3:18 left in the game, all but icing the win for the Pack and preserving the eventual 51-42 victory.
With the victory, CSU-Pueblo moves to 6-0, winning its 32nd consecutive game and its 26th straight Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference game, one away from tying Chadron State’s RMAC streak of 27 wins from 2006-09. The Pack also secured its first win over a ranked opponent this season in defeating the 19th-ranked Eagles.
The ThunderWolves will return home next week to face Colorado School of Mines at the Neta & Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl.