PUEBLO, Colo. - The number-one ranked CSU-Pueblo ThunderWolves increased their regular season win streak to 23 games Saturday behind a big day through the air to knock off RMAC newcomer Black Hills State, 45-13.
Once the Pack got an early first quarter lead with a 13-play, 91-yard drive on their opening possession, capped off by a six-yard touchdown run by senior tailback Justin Jackson (Sr., Pueblo West, Colo.) they never looked back, running away from the Yellow Jackets to claim sole possession of first place in the RMAC with the win.
Earlier in the day, previously undefeated New Mexico Highlands was bested by Chadron State 36-33.
Jackson, the fourth different starter this season for the ThunderWolves at running back took over for third-stringer and last week's starter Cameron McDondle (Fr., Littleton, Colo.), sat out of the game due to a violation of team rules. Jackson played well, rushing for 71 yards on 21 attempts.
"I just wanted to focus on the details and make sure that I executed," Jackson said. "It is real nice to run behind this offensive line and they help me out a lot. With the offense that we run, I just needed to be patient and wait for the holes to open up."
Give credit to the newcomers to the conference, Black Hills State, as they made the Pack earn everything they got and stayed within striking distance through the early parts of the game.
After the ThunderWolf defense forced an interception, they gave it right back when Jackson fumbled. The Yellow Jackets went on an impressive 54-yard drive over 2:08 and tied the number-one ranked ThunderWolves 7-7.
From there, quarterback Ross Dausin (Sr., San Antonio, Texas) took the game over. On the first play of the second quarter, Dausin hit Kieren Duncan (Fr., Goodyear, Arizona) on a quick wide receiver screen, which he took 27 yards for a Pack touchdown, his first collegiate score, and once again grabbed a seven-point lead, 14-7.
When it was all said and done, Dausin found himself with two new ThunderWolf records at night's end. His 390 yards and 26 completions were both good enough for single-game CSU-Pueblo records. Dausin also added eight rushing yards to set a record for total offense in a single game with 398 yards.
"The offensive line gave me all day to throw," Dausin said. "Our receivers made plays and when all that happens, life is easy for me."
As the theme went all night, the Pack defense came up with a big play right behind the offense. When C.J. Roberts (So., Boynton Beach, Fla.) read quarterback Ward Anderson's eyes, he intercepted the pass and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown, it quickly took the wind out of the sails of the upset-minded Yellow Jackets, giving the Pack a 21-7 lead.
After Black Hills State added a field goal to get the score to 21-10, Dausin again picked the Yellow Jacket secondary apart, this time finding Marcial Williamson (Sr., Lakewood, Wash.) for a 12-yard touchdown pass increasing the ThunderWolf lead to 28-10.
Once halftime hit, it was all but over. However, just for good measure, Dausin and Williamson hooked up one more time. On the opening drive of the second half, which took just three plays for the Pack to increase their lead to 35-13, Dausin's 18-yard touchdown pass to Williamson sealed a ThunderWolf win, making them 8-0 and 6-0 in RMAC play.
"We just had to take care of business and play as hard as we could on each snap," Head Coach John Wristen said. "We needed to establish that we were not a one-hit wonder being ranked number one."
The ThunderWolves take to the road next weekend to battle Colorado Mesa in Grand Junction. The Mavericks will be looking to avenge a 20-point loss to the Pack a season ago. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.