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Pack football heads to national championship

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Tight end Zach Boyd celebrates the ThunderWolves' winning touchdown. Photo by Dustin Cox
Tight end Zach Boyd celebrates the ThunderWolves’ winning touchdown.
Photo by Dustin Cox

The NCAA Division II semifinals are over, and now two teams are headed to the national championship; the CSU-Pueblo ThunderWolves are excited and proud to be one of those teams.

CSU-Pueblo quarterback Chris Bonner threw a 38-yard touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter, and the Thunderwolves’ defense was able to hold off West Georgia’s offensive attack as CSU-Pueblo beat West Georgia 10-7, Saturday night. The ThunderWolves advance to the NCAA Division II Championship game for the first time in program history.

With 6:50 left in the first quarter, Greg O’Donnell put the Pack on the scoreboard with a 24-yard field goal. The West Georgia Wolves answered the Pack’s first score with a 30-yard pass to Shaq Hall for a touchdown, with 1:50 left in the first quarter.

The second and third quarters did not produce any scoring plays, and the Wolves held their 7-3 lead. Pack quarterback Chris Bonner passed for 157 yards and the offense netted 92-yards rushing. Kieren Duncan ended the game with 49 receiving yards.

With 4:50 left on the game clock in the fourth quarter, LeVon Floyd intercepted a pass from Dallas Dicky, quarterback for the Wolves, turning the game in the favor of the ThunderWolves. This was the pivotal point in the game, helping to change the momentum with the later Pack touchdown.

Although West Georgia dominated in possession time with 34:31, they could not convert that time into more points on the board. CSU-Pueblo had possession for a little more than 25 minutes and worked hard to keep the Wolves out of the endzone.

West Georgia finished the game with 156 net rushing yards and 210 passing yards. They tried hard to answer the winning touchdown, but were unsuccessful.

During Saturday’s game, both teams attempted to use some trickery, but not all those attempts were successful. Bonner completed just 10 of 25 pass attempts, but he came through with a fake reverse and hit tight end Zach Boyd, who stepped into the end-zone for the ThunderWolves’ only touchdown of the night, which sealed the win.

Head coach of the West Georgia Wolves Will Hall said that the loss was very disappointing with such a large amount of possession time but congratulated the ThunderWolves on their victory. The Wolves made it into the red zone three times and tried to make plays, but the ThunderWolves would not allow it.

Coach John Wristen, head coach of the ThunderWolves, said that it means more to him, seeing the smiles and hearing the fans cheering than anything else.

Chris Bonner, quarterback for the ThunderWolves, didn’t complete too many passes in the game, but said that when the team is in a game and under pressure that, “you can’t think too much. You just have to let it fly,” speaking about his play with Darrius Allen.

“Darrius makes big plays in our passing game. He has such great strength and speed,” said Wristen. Wristen also said that Allen has a relentless spirit about him.

It is the big spirits of both the players and the fans that helped drive the ThunderWolves to a 10-7 victory over West Georgia Saturday night.

Throughout the week, the Athletics Department at CSU-Pueblo worked hard, along with many fans, to help fill the ThunderBowl for Saturday’s game. The final attendance was 7,236, which was far more than the previous playoff games this year.

The CSU-Pueblo ThunderWolves move on to the NCAA Division II National Championship game in Kansas City, Kansas, Saturday, Dec. 20. CSU-Pueblo will take on undefeated Minnesota State Mankato in the championship game, which will be broadcast nationwide on ESPN2.

Those who plan to attend the game in Kansas City can purchase tickets online at www.ncaa.com.