A back and forth contest at the Mountaineer Bowl in Gunnison Saturday culminated in a 42-yard game-winning field goal by Kyle Major (Fr., Littleton, Colo.), as the Pack came away with a 20-17 win.
The game began looking like a runaway for the ThunderWolves, as the Pack forced a quick four-and-out on Western's first possession, and promptly went on an 8-play, 67-yard scoring drive, settling for a field goal after moving the ball at will and taking a 3-0 lead.
After halting another Western State drive, the Pack took three plays to convert a 92-yard scoring drive, coming on a huge 69-yard touchdown pass to Markus Turner (Jr., Peoria, Ariz.) from Bobby Washington (RSo., Colorado Springs, Colo.), giving the Pack a 10-0 lead with 5:19 remaining in the first quarter.
After that stretch, however, Western State took control of the game. After both teams traded a series of four-and-outs, Western State got good field position at the CSU-Pueblo 40-yard-line following a Pack punt, and ran the ball to paydirt. The Mountaineers handed the ball to Nathan Acrey on four consecutive plays, culminating in a 12-yard touchdown jaunt, slicing the Pack lead to just three.
On their next possession, Western went on a 10-play, 33-yard scoring drive, netting a 32-yard field goal to tie things up.
In the third quarter, the Mountaineers kept up the pressure, forcing the Pack into two more four-and-outs and then going on a 58-yard touchdown drive to take the 17-10 lead.
But with their backs against the wall, both the offensive and defensive units for CSU-Pueblo ratcheted up their level of play.
On the very next possession, the ThunderWolves went on a game-changing 13-play, 63-yard touchdown drive, tying things up with a four-yard touchdown pass from Washington to Aromous Robinson (So., Lakewood, Colo.), setting up a showdown for the remaining game, daring one team to step up and take the win.
With 3:13 remaining, the ThunderWolves started a drive at their own 29-yard-line, and the Pack rushing game, which had been largely dormant all game long, took over.
Brandon Gray (So., Burdett, Kan.) rattled off an 8-yard gain, and then was followed by a 28-yard gain by Turner on a reverse, getting the Pack within Major's field goal range.
With 17 seconds remaining, Major nailed a 42-yarder, evening the Pack's 2008 record at 4-4 and 3-4 in conference play. The ThunderWolves continue to be all alone in fifth place in the RMAC standings.
The ThunderWolves continue their road trip next weekend with a long trek to Silver City, N.M. to take on the winless Western New Mexico Mustangs.