Pueblo, Colo. - The Neta & Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl was an electric sea of red Saturday as the No. 5 ThunderWolves defeated the Western New Mexico Mustangs 44-7 in the 2013 CSU-Pueblo home opener.
The ThunderWolves amassed 553 total offensive yards and forced 13 Mustang punts in the victory, which was a school record third consecutive game of scoring at 40 or more points.
Quarterback Chris Bonner (Jr., San Diego, Calif.) and the ThunderWolves got off to a fast start, driving 52 yards on just seven plays on the opening possession of the game, capped off by a one yard touchdown reception by Chris Ashe (So., Colorado Springs, Colo.) less than two minutes in.
CSU-Pueblo ran a no-huddle offense for most of the game, making it difficult for the Mustang defense to keep up. The up-tempo offense was effective, as proved by a 57-yard touchdown from Kieran Duncan (So., Goodyear, Ariz.) on an end-around run that gave the ThunderWolves a 14-0 advantage in the first quarter.
"The way that play opened up in the game, it was just a culmination of the hard work we've put in," Duncan said of his big play. "I had good blocking on the end, so that made it that much easier for me."
Paul Browning (Jr., Widefield, Colo.) added to the offensive onslaught in the second quarter as he continued his dynamic season full of big plays. Browning hauled in yet another long touchdown pass from Bonner, this one from 63 yards, to help the ThunderWolves build a 24-0 lead in the first half.
"We wanted to try to use some up-tempo to help us out," Coach Wristen said, "But we also have the ability to slow it down and call the plays we need to."
The ThunderWolves dominance was not limited to just offense, however. The CSU-Pueblo defense was suffocating, preventing the Mustangs from getting anything going whatsoever.
In the first half, the Mustangs were held to 70 yards on 37 offensive plays, compared to an astounding 318 yards on 44 plays for the ThunderWolves.
"We wanted to make them go 80 yards and not give them the big plays," Wristen said, "Our defense did a heck of a job with that."
The story was much of the same in the second half, as the ThunderWolves defense stifled the Mustangs offense and held them to 211 total yards, while a 33-yard touchdown run by the other member of the ThunderWolves' potent running attack, Cameron McDondle (So., Littleton, Colo.), added to the already overwhelming ThunderWolves lead.
A fourth quarter strip-sack by Josh Croy (Fr., Littleton, Colo.) halted one of the more successful drives by the Mustangs and all but sealed the deal for the ThunderWolves.
The victory kept several streaks alive for the ThunderWolves, including 28 consecutive regular season wins and 23 consecutive wins in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
The ThunderWolves continue RMAC play next Saturday as they head to Alamosa to take on Adams State at 6 p.m.