At the beginning of this season, if someone had told me that the ThunderWolves were going to be national champions, I probably would have said that it was too early to tell, a goal to aim for. But I always believed it was within reach.
Saturday’s game in Kansas City was the realization of that goal and an early Christmas present for the team and the many fans who traveled 600 miles to the NCAA Division II Championship game.
The attendance for both teams at Sporting Park was 6,792. Along with those watching from home on ESPN 2, they witnessed history as CSU-Pueblo won its first national title.
The first scoring play of the game wasn’t until the second quarter when CSU-Pueblo’s Greg O’Donnell put the ThunderWolves on the board with a 27-yard field goal.
Both teams came to the game ready to battle, and battle they did, as a strong defense on both sides of the field limited the scoring plays.
The Pack went on to score one touchdown, caught in the end zone by senior Paul Browning, and another three points on a 24-yard field goal from O’Donnell. They kept MSU scoreless, taking the victory 13-0.
Statistically speaking, the ThunderWolves outplayed the Mavericks across the board. The Pack had 327 total offensive yards and gained 16 first downs over MSU’s 12.
Defensively, the score is the story. The ThunderWolves secured the first shutout in a Division II championship game since 1997 and against one of the top scoring teams in the country.
The ThunderWolves went into the season carrying the motto, “Win The Last Game.” It was established in August when the coaching staff handed out T-shirts that read “WTLG,” alluding to Saturday’s national championship game. The team lived up to that motto with every Pack player on the field giving 100 percent, and now they are going home with a national title.
But along with the great plays and the victory came the Pack Nation. CSU-Pueblo fans showed up in the thousands and were louder than ever on the sideline. Pack Cheer kept the fans excited, loud and proud. The CSU-Pueblo marching band welcomed the fans to the stadium with the fight song and played all during the game and at halftime.
My best description of the excitement in the air would be “intense.”
Being a part of such a historic game is something that I’ve looked forward to since I came to CSU-Pueblo in the summer of 2012. Now, I’ve been there, and it’s an amazing feeling to say that I go to a school with a national champion football team, the CSU-Pueblo ThunderWolves.