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Pack seniors step up in senior appreciation game against Colorado Mesa

Senior Kieren Duncan led the team with 42 receiving yards. | Photo by Jason Prescott
Senior Kieren Duncan led the team with 42 receiving yards. | Photo by Jason Prescott

In the team’s final home game of the 2015 season on Nov. 7, fourth nationally ranked CSU-Pueblo rolled over No. 16 Colorado Mesa, 51-20, ensuring at least a share of their fifth consecutive Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference title.

Both teams entered the contest riding 7-0 in-conference records in the RMAC, which led to a closely contested first half, ending in just a two point Pack lead of 19-17.

The rest of the game, however, belonged to the Pack, with CSU-Pueblo coming alive both offensively and defensively in the second half and outscoring the Mavericks 32-3.

Senior running back Cameron McDondle once again led the charge for the Pack’s offense, amassing 150 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. Younger brother Bernard McDondle, provided his usual change-of-pace role for the Pack’s rushing attack, running for 117 yards and two TD’s on just 10 carries and improving even more upon his nation-leading average in yards-per-carry.

After uncharacteristically surrendering 17 points in the first two quarters, the ThunderWolves’ elite defensive unit got back to their usual stingy and dominant identity in the second half, holding CMU to just three points in the games final 37 minutes.

The Pack’s defense finished the game with four sacks for -27 yards, as well as three turnovers, with two interceptions by junior safety Joseph Jones, and a forced fumble by junior defensive end Ian Kelly recovered by redshirt freshman linebacker Brandon Payer.

Senior defensive end Morgan Fox provided an explosive spark to the Pack’s defense, totaling eight tackles and three sacks, including a pivotal momentum-changing safety in the second quarter.

Saturday’s win against CMU was satisfying, but also predictable for the Pack.  The lopsided victory accounted for the ThunderWolves’ sixth straight win against the Mavericks dating back to 2010.

But perhaps a better pre-game indicator of Saturday’s victory than past wins was the location at which the game was played.

To put it quite simply, the Pack does not lose at the ThunderBowl. CSU-Pueblo has now won 28 straight at home, including an unblemished 6-0 record in 2015.

For the team’s traditional senior appreciation game, where a pre-game ceremony was held to honor the senior football athletes playing in their last game at the home, many senior Pack players put their best foot forward in their last game in front of the home fans.

In addition to the strong outings of seniors McDondle and Fox, the Pack got key performances out of other senior leaders as well.

Senior Kieren Duncan led the team in receiving yards once again with 42, including an incredible 24-yard, one-handed sideline catch in the fourth quarter. Duncan also totaled 98 yards on four kick returns.

Photo by Jason Prescott
Photo by Jason Prescott

Senior kicker Greg O’Donnell made his lone field goal attempt of the day, and went 4-for-6 on extra points, having two PAT’s blocked in the second half.

The ThunderWolves senior defensive leadership controlled the line of scrimmage and second level, with nose guard Tony Campton, as well as linebackers Kevin Cuff, D’ere Moore, and Ben Estica, totaling 4 tackles apiece and accounting for 16 of the Pack’s 77 total tackles.

Going into the regular season’s final contest on Nov. 14 against New Mexico Highlands, the Pack will seek to ride their current eight game winning streak and finish the season on a high note.

In addition to a crucial momentum-win on the line, all-time program records will also be at stake as Cameron McDondle and Morgan Fox find themselves well within reach of milestone Pack records.

McDonnell is currently 71 yards short of his own CSU-Pueblo record of 2014 rushing yards in a season, set last year, while Fox is currently a half-sack away from former teammate Darius Allen’s records of sacks in a season, at 15.5, as well as career sacks, with 34.5.