The ThunderWolves had their sights set on something remarkable - finishing with a winning record in their first season of competition in 24 years. But the Pack's motivation for that mark was not as high as that of Western New Mexico, which was seeking to avoid an 0-fer season, claiming a 24-14 win over the Pack Saturday.
Playing nothing like an 0-8 team, the Mustangs established control early and kept it. After an initial punt-fest in the first quarter, WNM drew first blood when tailback Tramell McGill ran the ball in from 11 yards out, which was a season-long for the top back in WNM's anemic rushing attack, putting the Mustangs up 7-0.
The touchdown run was an omen, as WNM, coming in with the second-worst rushing offense in the country (netting just 151 total rushing yards through eight games), suddenly was slashing through the Pack's front seven and showing much more prowess running the football than CSU-Pueblo. WNM ran for a grand total of 126 yards, nearly double their season output coming into Saturday.
In the second quarter, the Mustangs put together a 13-play, 70-yard drive, relying largely on the pass, as quarterback Chris Voller connected with John Means for a 5-yard touchdown, extending their lead to 14-0.
The ThunderWolves had no choice to play catch up, and though they were able to score 14 points in the game (all coming on a last-ditch comeback attempt in the fourth quarter), the Pack never exacted control of the game.
A big reason for this was the Pack secondary, which was torched by Voller and his 378-yard, 2 touchdown performance, as well as Means, who caught 8 passes for 163 yards, with two coming on touchdowns.
Offensively, quarterback Bobby Washington (RSo., Colorado Springs, Colo.) threw his first two interceptions of the season, only going 12-for-32 for 150 yards. Overall, the ThunderWolves were only able to muster 62 yards rushing, a bulk of the carries going to fullback Vinny Papasedero (Fr., Seattle, Wash.).
The Pack's performance was lacking, head coach John Wristen said, but the team needs to get right back on the horse in time for their season finale against Adams State at CSU-Pueblo next Saturday.
"We didn't have the usual focus, but that happens sometimes," Wristen said. "We weren't able to overcome [bad breaks] and we weren't as sharp as we needed to. But we'll get it turned around."