In the team’s second home game of the 2015 season, the Colorado State University-Pueblo ThunderWolves took on the Western State College Mountaineers Sept. 19, in a 20-10 victory that was dominating, yet somewhat uninspired.
Though the Pack came out strong against WSCU from the opening moments, the team didn’t have its normal panache against an outclassed and outmatched Mountaineers team.
To power the team to victory, the Pack decided to stick to what they do best: dominate defensively and give Cameron McDondle the ball.
McDondle carried the Pack’s offense throughout the contest, rushing for 189 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries, adding a 75-yard reception.
Senior defensive end Morgan Fox, who entered the game tied for second in the nation in sacks and tackles for loss in Division II, continued his streak of dominance as he sacked junior WSCU quarterback Brett Arrivey three times for a combined loss of 21 yards.
It was a new look under center for the Pack, as a season ending shoulder injury to senior Malcolm Ruben last week against West Texas A&M paved the way for freshman A.J. Thompson to lead the ThunderWolves in his first start.
Thompson added an element of versatility to the team’s offense unseen in past weeks, as the Pack ran numerous play-action passes and option-reads to compliment the speedy youngster’s skill set.
Thompson put that speed on display during the games first drive, as he rushed for the teams first touchdown of the game on a 7-yard scramble with 11:42 remaining in the first quarter.
Thompson finished the day 11-for-18 for 169 yards through the air, adding 56 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Two missed field goals by senior kicker Greg O’Donnell in the second and third quarters seemed to suck some of the life out of the Pack, as the team’s offense seemed lethargic throughout the second half. A 6-yard touchdown by McDondle with 7:49 remaining broke the stagnation.
Injuries once again plagued CSU-Pueblo, as explosive wide receiver and kick-returner Kieran Duncan left the game in the first half with a concussion.
“The first half was just a blur to me,” Duncan said.
Although the old saying, “a win is a win” of course rings true, the Pack seemed to have a bit of a lingering hangover after last week’s tough loss in West Texas.
Although the Pack will need to be more balanced if they hope to defend their national championship title, sticking to what they know by leaning on McDondle and their elite defense, has been a tried and true formula for the Pack so far in the 2015 season.