Following an emotional return to football after 24 years, as well as starting off the season 2-0, the ThunderWolves were on cloud nine.
Then Chadron came to town. And brought the Pack down to reality.
The Eagles popped the Pack squarely in the mouth, swinging into Pueblo and scoring a 32-0 win, handing the ThunderWolves their first loss since November 1984.
The tone of the game was set early when the ThunderWolves, who drove to the Chadron 44-yard-line on their first possession, had their fortunes change with one big hit.
Chadron's Cory Beran came unevaded to Pack quarterback Sean Gavin (Fr., Canyon Country, Calif.) and knocked the ball loose before he could get his arm into throwing motion, causing a fumble which Beran also recoverd, and setting up Chadron's first possession.
Then, it only took two running plays by Chadron tailback John Ritzen, who uncorked runs of 32 yards and 20 yards, the latter of which going for the Eagles' first touchdown.
Tack on another touchdown, this one off of a 15-yard Aaron Cooksely run, Pack was forced to play catch up for the first time this season, down 14-0.
With Chadron's defense bearing down on the Pack's running game, the ThunderWolves were turned into a one-dimensional team behind Gavin, who made his first career start after the injury to starter, Bobby Washington. Gavin had a valiant effort, throwing for 132 yards with one interception on nine completions, but it wasn't enough to threaten a team that hasn't lost to an RMAC school since 2005.
"We just couldn't run," Pack coach John Wristen said. "We became one-dimensional and it took us out of our game plan."
The ThunderWolf rush defense, which came in to the game boasting the nation's top yards allowed mark (23.5 yards per game) was dealt a monumental blow by Chadron, giving up 235 yards on the ground.
"They're a good team and very physical," Wristen said of Chadron State. "But we have to put this one behind it, flush it away, and go back to work on focus on [our next game]."
The next game for the ThunderWolves is a road tussle with Colorado Mines, the RMAC's representative in the Dixie Rotary Bowl in 2007. That game takes place in Golden on Sept. 27 at noon.
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